Over the course of the next few paragraphs I will not tell you anything that you don’t already know. I will not surprise or startle you and I will not reveal the hidden secret to weight loss. I will however, elaborate on some details and my aim is to enlighten you as to why you feel the way you do – the main crux of this post is as obvious to you as it is to me. Sugar Is Killing Us.
We, as a culture have embraced sugar over the past few decades as a warm long-lost friend returning from the cold. We have allowed it to gain a foothold at our table and be a part of almost everything we consume. We have in short normalised what is arguably the most addictive and harmful drug of recent times.
Before we dig into the specifics let’s be clear. This is not a witch hunt against carbohydrate based foods, yet an educated analysis of proven true facts.
Sugar is a carbohydrate based molecule which is present in many naturally occurring foods such as fruits, vegetables and even dairy. To maintain a healthy, balanced diet the consumption of certain sugar dense foods, such as fruit , is a must, and for the purpose of this post we need not concern ourselves with that. The villain of our story and focus of our attention today is refined sugar.
Sucrose is naturally occurring in things such as sugar canes and is broken down to create what we know as refined sugar. Refined sugar has absolutely zero nutritional benefit. There is not one legitimate argument to be held as to why somebody would need it, and it provides absolutely no positive purpose. Yet it is present in many of the foods we consume on a day-to-day basis, and a large majority of those without our knowledge!
Any trip to a health conscious cafe or trendy eatery will probably come with an advert above the food claiming that it is “refined sugar-free”. It is the health and fitness buzz phrase of the moment and if you’re honest you have to work pretty hard to eat in a cafe that doesn’t advertise this. Which kind of tells you something. It Isn’t Good.
The relationship with refined sugar started hundreds of years ago when it was classed as a luxury, yet it is only in the past several decades where it has spiralled out of control and created health issues on a global scale.
So here are a few facts that you probably already know. We will call this the cons list and then stack it against the pro’s.
Cons of eating refined sugar
- Causes Non Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease
- Rots Your Teeth
- Causes Obesity
- Causes Diabetes
- Causes Metabolic Syndrome
- Raises Cholesterol
- Causes Heart Disease
- Creates Insulin Resistance
- Causes Cancer
- It’s Highly Addictive
Pro’s of eating refined sugar
- You Like The Taste
Doesn’t make pretty reading does it, but you probably already knew that didn’t you? The offset in such a list would be hard to replicate anywhere else, whether it be smoking, drinking alcohol or mainlining heroin. Yet much like a smoker defending his/her reasons for a 20 per day habit our justification for the consumption of refined sugar continues.
It is safe to say that the majority of people who consume sugar on a more than regular occurrence are educated, knowledgable rational people who run businesses, hold down jobs and raise families. So why, when we are fully aware of the facts, are we still consuming refined sugar on an immeasurable scale.
The reasons for this are many but I have drilled down on what I feel is the main factor for the sugar addicts buzz.
Dopamine. This is an organic chemical that plays several major roles in the body, with one of its major roles being in reward induced behaviour. To simplify, that awesome feeling you get when you have been rewarded for something, that’s Dopamine. Also that awesome feeling you get during an encounter with a chocolate bar, yep thats the dopamine as well!
The consumption of sugar causes a massive release of dopamine, much like would be experienced when consuming an addictive drug. The body will then do whatever it can to illicit that response again and due to the association created between sugar and dopamine it is not long before rounds 2,3 and 4 on the sugar cycle have turned into 2000, 3000, and 4000 and you have got yourself a legitimate addiction.
It’s that easy and it is proven. Sugar is addictive much like alcohol, narcotics or prescription medicine. The big issue now comes via adaptation.
With your body being the clever machine it is, it’s not long before the levels of dopamine produced by that one chocolate bar are on the decline, and your body will do anything and everything in its power to rectify that. Now the easiest way to do this, yep, more chocolate, and this is an endless cycle. The level of dopamine produced declines so we must bring it up to gain the same reward feeling. It certainly gives some context to the statement, “I’ve done so well I’m going to reward myself with this chocolate bar”.
The cycle continues and much like any addiction, it takes a huge amount of discipline to break it. With that said there are three crucial points that I would like you to take from this post.
- Refined sugar is of no nutritional use to you. Firstly just rationalise that. If you stop eating sugar nothing bad will happen to you. It’s not like if you stopped drinking water. You have zero legitimate need for it.
- You are not addicted to the sugar but the feeling that it gives you. In simple terms you are addicted to the release of Dopamine. With that identified it is now possible to find substitutes for the sugar that are of benefit to you.
- You are still reading. Which means that you are committed to change and are now hopefully a little more educated than you were earlier. Over the next few weeks we can attempt to implement some change.
In my next post I will look at how close an addiction to the supermarket sweet section is to a 5 day gym habit and help build some steps that could see you kick the sugar for good.
Once again, many thanks for reading and please hook up with us on the social’s to discuss any of these matters further.