According to the US National Institute on Drug Abuse, sugar addiction is likely as harmful as cocaine or alcohol. Eating foods high in sugar produces chemical changes in the brain’s “reward” center causing addictive cravings. Don’t be fooled by replacing white sugar with honey or agave because they essentially have the same effects. In fact, sugar overuse may lead to problems other than addiction … like diabetes or liver disease.
SUGAR CAN BE FOUND IN TWO FORMS
- Free sugars are those added to food and liquids. You will find these in agave, raw sugar, cane sugar, corn syrup, fructose, sucrose, molasses, glucose, dextrose, coconut sugar, and honey. They are the most addictive.
- Natural sugars are in fresh, frozen, or dried fruits. Surprisingly you can discover them in dairy products like yogurt or milk.
HOW DOES SUGAR CAUSE SUGAR ADDICTION?
Large amounts of sugar over a long period of time stimulate brain activity and hormone levels. This increases glucose levels leading to the pancreas producing insulin. As a result, the body retains calories as fat and that causes weight gain and joint pain.
Carbohydrates like rice, pasta, chips, and fries process slower in the body than free sugar, however, they still break down into sugar. The result is excess weight that strains the joints. Most problematic, sugar causes the body to crave even more sugar, thus creating a vicious cycle of sugar addiction.
Since sugary foods stimulate the same areas of the brain as abusive drugs, they may cause loss of control over consumption and cravings. Currently the average American consumes almost 20 teaspoons of sugar every day. That’s over 65 pounds of sugar a year per person!
HOW DO WE BATTLE THIS WAR ON SUGAR ADDICTION?
- The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that we consume a maximum of 10% and ideally less than 5% of our calories from added or natural sugar. To help determine quantities of sugar in groceries, labels list ingredients in descending order of dominance. If sugar or a form of sugar is in the first 3 ingredients, don’t buy the product.
- If more than one sugar is listed in your item, put it back!
- Eliminate soft drinks and fruit juices that are high in sugar.
- Limit consumption of candy, baked goods, and desserts. Save those treats for a special occasion.
- It’s important to read labels. “Low fat” packaged foods often compensate with extra sugar.
- Replace canned fruit with fresh.
- Protein such as eggs, beans, and nuts help control sugar cravings.
- Eliminate sugars from your diet slowly; don’t go “cold turkey”.
- Drink water!
The good news is that when cutting back, no math or calorie counting is involved in eliminating sugar. Try replacing sugar with tempting flavors like ginger, lemon, vanilla bean, nutmeg, or cinnamon. Herbs and spices add a kick to your meals. Bottom line, the easiest way to cut back is to avoid processed sugar whenever possible and eat fresh fruits instead.
Taking care of our bodies through eating well and proper exercise is paramount to healthy bones and muscles. If you experience pain or discomfort in your joints or muscles, give us a call.
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