Why is Sugar So Addictive?
Research has shown that when we eat food, the simple sugar glucose found within is absorbed by the intestines and sent through the bloodstream to all cells in the body. The brain in particular gets a boost from sugar. Glucose is a particularly important nutrient used by the brain. It serves as a major fuel source for billions of neuronal nerve cells. These neurons are unable to store glucose, so they need a constant supply from the bloodstream. When someone has low blood sugar, such as a diabetic, they can slip into a coma. Studies have also shown that just the taste of sugar can boost the brain. Participants in a study who tasted water sweetened by sugar did better on mental tasks than their counterparts who tasted artificially sweetened water.
Many in the science community believe that we are primed from birth to enjoy and crave sugar. Evolutionarily, sugar, along with fat and salt, played a vital role in our survival. A study from Washington University found that infants have a distinct preference for sugar over other flavors. Throughout history, children who had a preference for higher-calorie foods would have a better chance of survival if food sources were unreliable.
Despite our instinct to consume sugar, it has become a major issue in the modern world. The problem is that processed sugar is readily available and has led to high consumption and ever-increasing obesity rates. Many of our foods today are processed and excessively sweetened by sucrose (regular cane sugar). Sucrose is made from two sugar molecules tightly bound together: glucose and fructose in equal amounts. High Fructose Corn Syrup also consists of glucose and fructose in a 45-55 ratio in an unbound from. This is key. Unbound form means there is not a chemical bond between these two molecules. More on this in the section on why HFCS is bad for you. Fructose is sweeter than glucose. HFCS is less expensive to manufacturers of foods and drinks due to the government farm bill corn subsidies. It is also sweeter than products made with cane sugar. Other common foods, like breads, also have a surprisingly large and hidden amount of processed sugar. Those in the healthcare field recommend that parents should refrain from giving their babies and children processed sugar or HFCS foods and drinks. This will help them from developing a preference or addiction early in life for sugar.
Along with sugar being readily available, our bodies are not equipped to fully handle certain types of sugar. Research has found that our bodies cannot tell when we have had enough. High fructose corn syrup, for example, does not trigger the same sense of being full as other foods with similar calories do. Yale University released a study that revealed that glucose does suppress the parts of the brain that trigger our need to eat while high fructose corn syrup does not.
Why is high fructose corn syrup bad?
Due to the fact there is not a chemical bond in HFCS between the glucose and fructose with a 45-55 ratio, no digestion is necessary, therefore the glucose and fructose are rapidly absorbed into the bloodstream. Fructose goes straight to the liver and triggers lipogenesis, which is the production of fats like triglycerides and cholesterol. This is a major contributing factor to the 70 million people acquiring fatty liver disease. The rapid absorption of glucose into the blood stream triggers a spike in insulin release from the pancreas to try to hold the blood sugar within a normal range. Insulin is our body’s major fat storing hormone. By this increase in insulin release from consumption of HFCS the body is storing more and more fat and the lipogenesis in the liver contributes to fatty liver disease. The activity that HFCS causes with the liver and the pancreas has increased metabolic disturbances that results in increased appetite, weight gain, diabetes, heart disease, cancer, dementia, metabolic syndrome, infertility and more. HFCS also wreaks havoc on the intestinal lining triggering an immune reaction and systemic inflammation.
How can I get over my sugar cravings?
If you feel you have a sugar addiction and know you need to cut your sugar consumption down, consider undergoing a sugar detox. There are a few key things you can do to detox your body of sugar:
- Ditch the High Fructose Corn Syrup – As stated, HFCS is a “bad” sugar as your body tends to store it as fat by stimulating the liver and the release of insulin. Begin your sugar detox by avoiding things like high fructose corn syrup and white table sugar. Be sure to take these sugars into account when consuming any processed foods, like ketchup, salad dressings, and barbeque sauce or breads
- Ditch the Sugary Drinks – Soda is one of the main culprits for sugar over-consumption. Consider that a 12-ounce cola has more than 20 grams of HFCS by itself or cane sugar if you are lucky. When detoxing from sugar, avoid soda, smoothies sweetened with additional sugar, sweetened coffee beverages, wine coolers or any drink that contains additional sugar. Rather, drink water or unsweetened coffee or tea
- Incorporate Some Starch with fiber – Some starchy foods, like whole wheat pasta no GMO, beans and even whole-grain bread non GMO in moderation, are actually good for you. This is because they are rich in fiber which helps maintain steady glucose levels in the body
- Think Beyond Food – Aside from cutting sugar from your diet, consider getting more active. Did you know that you can boost your metabolism with only 30 minutes of exercise per day?
- Eat Good Sugars in Moderation – Just because you are cutting sugar does not mean you cannot indulge occasionally. Doctors encourage a small amount of dark chocolate or raw fruit to control sugar cravings. Be sure to eat no more than 35g of fructose per day from fresh fruits and vegetables
- Eliminate Sugar Substitutes – Artificial sugars stimulate taste receptors that sense sweetness in the stomach and esophagus. Because of this stimulation, the pancreas is anticipating a blood sugar increase and releases insulin. Insulin is a hormone that regulates blood sugar but also causes the body to store fat and create insulin resistance. Bottom line, until more research is done stay away from the chemicals and only use organic stevia or raw local honey. Also stay away from agave nectar. This product has more fructose than HFCS ranging from 55 to 97 percent, depending on the brand, and is more dangerous for your health and liver. There is a TON of media claiming agave is good for you. This is not the case. It stimulates lipogensis even more than HFCS.
- Completely Cut Foods That Have Added Sugar – If you are really serious about detoxing from sugar, consider eliminating all sugar from your diet. Sugar is hidden in many places like ketchup, pasta sauces, salad dressings, barbecue sauces and many other sauces. Sugar from fruit and vegetables have fiber and other nutrients that are beneficial to a healthy diet. Processed HFCS is what wreaks havoc with the body. When people eat a diet high in calories and high in processed HFCS, the liver gets overloaded and starts turning the fructose into fat. HFCS consumption has been strongly associated as a risk for obesity, Type II diabetes, heart disease, metabolic syndrome and even cancer. If you cut out all HFCS for two weeks, you can break this cycle. Once your system is clear of all traces of HFCS, avoid it and stick to natural sugar in fruits or real organic cane sugar in moderation
How Can Living Nutrilicious Help Me?
Gina Eubank is an award-winning pharmacist and integrated health expert who boasts more than two decades of experience during which she has helped thousands of people improve their health and lives. Her extensive knowledge has led her to found Living Nutrilicious, a system and methodology designed to heal both the body and mind. Through Living Nutrilicious, Gina can simplify complex health issues into everyday terms. Gina is able to bridge Western medicine’s science and combine it with other integrative and functional medicine approaches to help individuals who want to live a more natural and healthy life.