Sugar Addiction and What it Does to You

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Sugar Addiction and What it Does to You

These days conventional wisdom says that the healthiest diet is plant-based (think The China Study), removes all red meat, and minimizes animal products.

I disagree.

According to Westin Price (a dentist who researched traditional diets around the world in the 1930s), the real culprits for Western diseases are white flour, sugar, and processed vegetable fats.  Traditional diets ranging from almost entirely plant based to almost entirely animal based all produced healthy populations; it was not until the Western processed foods listed above infiltrated those societies that their health began to decline.

What Counts as Sugar?

The glycemic index is a measure of how quickly a particular food turns to sugar in the body.  (Glucose is assigned a glycemic index of 100, and everything else is assigned a number relative to that.)  At the top of the glycemic index list are all things white, especially processed white flour (including white bread, pancakes, and pastries), most processed white grains (including white rice, instant oatmeal, popcorn, and most cereals), and white potatoes, especially potato products (including french fries, potato chips, and instant mashed potatoes).

Why is Sugar so Bad?

Think of sugar as quick energy. It can get converted into the currency your body uses for energy very quickly. But your blood can only accommodate a few tablespoons of sugar at a time.  Here’s why.

Picture table sugar – it’s granular and it has relatively rough edges.  If you have too much sugar in your bloodstream over a period of time, those rough edges nick the walls of your blood vessels and cause damage.  When that happens, your body has to patch up the damage with a “band-aid,” so that it can heal.  The “band-aid” is called LDL (aka “bad” cholesterol).  The more extensive the damage, the more cholesterol you need to form an adequate band-aid.  But with continued high intake of sugar, over time that LDL plug gets bigger and bigger.  Eventually it may impede blood flow, or the plug can become unstable and break off, traveling to some other part of the body until it encounters a blood vessel too small to accommodate it.  (This is cardiovascular disease – and it can lead to heart attacks and strokes.)  That’s problem #1 with too much sugar.  (Note that the LDL isn’t the cause of the problem.  Sugar is the real culprit.)

So your body tries to get rid of excess sugar from the bloodstream in order to minimize this process.  Sugar has to get inside the cells in order to get out of the blood.

Sugar can’t just rush into the cells though – it has to have the “key “to get in.  The key is insulin, and it gets produced from the pancreas in response to high sugar in the bloodstream.  This works great for awhile… but problems come in when this cycle is repeated too often, too long.  Like a drug addict needing a bigger dose to achieve the same high, the body will start to require more and more insulin to keep up with your sugar intake. Eventually, the pancreas can’t keep up with the demand. This leads to Insulin Resistance and Diabetes.  That’s problem #2 with too much sugar.

Once the sugar gets inside the cells, it can’t be stored in its present form – it has to be converted from “quick” energy into “potential” energy — fat (or more precisely, triglycerides.)  So sugar also leads to obesity.  That’s problem #3 with too much sugar.

Other prevalent Western diseases include cancer (and cancer cells consume sugar as energy before the rest of the body, so eating sugar will feed cancer cells), dementia and Alzheimer’s disease (the link between these and sugar is becoming clearer), IBS (sugar feeds several of the dysbiotic flora contributing to gas, bloating, and constipation), and many more.

Why do we eat so much sugar?

Sugar is an addiction, just like alcohol, smoking, and drugs.  This study found that sugar produces a chemical in the brain called enkephalins, which work much like opiates (including heroin, morphine, and oxycontin) – that is, they stimulate the release of dopamine.  Most other addictions do the same thing: dopamine is the neurotransmitter in the brain linked to pleasure and reward.

Are you addicted?

Here’s a few questions to ask yourself in order to find out.

  • Do you use sugar and foods that act like sugar (with a high glycemic index) to make you feel better after a bad day?
  • Do you crave sugar or high glycemic index foods?
  • Do you think lower glycemic index foods taste bland, and feel the need to add sweetener?
  • Have you ever tried to avoid sugar and found that either you couldn’t, or once you tasted something sweet you felt compelled to consume all of it?
  • Do you use sugar, and foods that act like sugar, as a reward for yourself?

If you answered yes to several of the questions above, you are far from alone!  Although it is not an easy habit to break (they never are), it is one of the very best choices that you can make for your health.

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By | 2017-05-30T07:37:33+00:00 May 31st, 2013|Categories: Articles, Nutrition|Tags: , , , |19 Comments

About the Author:

Dr. Lauren Deville is board-certified to practice medicine in the State of Arizona. She received her NMD from Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine in Tempe, AZ, and she holds a BS in Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics from the University of Arizona, with minors in Spanish and Creative Writing. She also writes fiction under a pen name in her spare time. Visit her author website at www.authorcagray.com.

19 Comments

  1. […] which means the carbs turn into sugar as soon as they hit your saliva (which is a problem for a variety of reasons.)  You might not have an allergic response to it, but that doesn’t make it […]

  2. […] which means the carbs turn into sugar as soon as they hit your saliva (which is a problem for a variety of reasons.)  You might not have an allergic response to it, but that doesn’t make it […]

  3. […] Refined bleached flour. This is bad for you for two reasons: first, all of the nutrients and fiber in the grain have been stripped away, leaving only the gluten and the carbohydrates. Second, refined carbohydrates act turn into glucose as soon as they hit your saliva, so eating these is just like eating sugar.  […]

  4. […] Chlorogenic acid. This is most likely the reason why moderate coffee consumption (around 3 cups per day, and up to 6!) is linked to decreased risk of Type 2 Diabetes. According to the researchers of the journal Diabetologia, test subjects’ increase of one cup of coffee per day over a 4 year period decreased risk of Type 2 Diabetes by 11%, while those who decreased their consumption by more than a cup had a 17% higher risk of Type 2 Diabetes. (Of course the best way to decrease the risk of diabetes is to stop eating sugar and white carbs). […]

  5. […] day), and that you are adding high quality calories to places where there usually weren’t any. Do not overdo the sugar in order to do this—too much sugar will make you gain weight, but the wrong kind. It’s not worth […]

  6. […] a healthy diet.  High sugar, high saturated fat, and nutrient deficiencies can all cause inflammation and a physiologic stress […]

  7. […] Avoid white bread. It’s basically sugar. […]

  8. […] up liver, elevated androgens (hormones in the testosterone family) sometimes due to PCOS, too-high sugar and insulin resistance, and occasionally low essential fatty […]

  9. […] Much of this has to do with the SAD (Standard American Diet), which is high in processed foods and sugar, and low in […]

  10. […] Minimize processed bread products (which you should do anyway, because processed white bread is all straight sugar.) […]

  11. […] Table sugar: FAIL. I wrote here on regular sugar and what too much of it does to you. That said, if you have a choice between some […]

  12. […] walls of your blood vessels can get damaged just like your skin can. When damage occurs (from too much sugar or uncontrolled diabetes, from too many trans fats, from cigarette smoke, etc), you get a scab to […]

  13. […] way you can end up with an imbalance in the oral microbiome, for instance, is to eat a lot of sugar and white carbs—the very same culprits that create an imbalance in the gut. This is why a poor diet, low in the […]

  14. […] sugar/white carbs, especially not counterbalanced with protein or fat. This sets off of cycle of glucose instability. Repeat this cycle too long and too often, and you end up with insulin resistance, metabolic […]

  15. […] Unlike artificial sweeteners, stevia is an herb that grows in Japan, China, South America, and several other countries around the world. Unlike most other natural sweeteners, it has no effect on blood sugar. This in and of itself is a great health benefit, as most of the big Western diseases are linked to excess sugar consumption. […]

  16. […] glucose and fructose in HFCS are not bound to one another. This means even more rapid absorption: all the negatives of sugar, yet even […]

  17. […] system suppression (from chronic illness, autoimmunity, toxic burdens, lack of sleep, poor diet, […]

  18. […] (nightshades like potatoes, eggplant, peppers, and tomatoes are common culprits). For many it’s sugar. Sometimes essential fatty acid deficiency plays a […]

  19. […] Today’s episode comes from this article: Sugar Addiction and What It Does To You. […]

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