The holidays bring a lot of good moments, presents, hangouts and…sugar! Wherever you go, you can find sugary products – brownies, cookies, candies etc. It seems that sugar is an inevitable part of the holiday season.
However, even during this festive season we should not forget that sugar brings many potential dangers to human health. According to many studies, sugar can be more dangerous than salt and it is a well-known contributor to the development of cardiovascular diseases. It also increases the risk of developing hypertension, liver disease, type 2 diabetes, kidney disease and obesity.
Most people are fully aware about this information, but many of them still eat sugary products in large quantities. The reason behind that is simple – sugar is addictive. Many experts claim that sugar is addictive just like drugs or nicotine. On top of that, the food industry is not doing anything to help us with this addiction. In fact, it seems that they are taking advantage of this addiction.
We can confirm that this crave for concentrated sugars is not natural because people that lived just few hundred years ago didn’t have access to concentrated sugars. Things have obviously changed and people today consume sugar even from products that they don’t expect to find sugar in. Around 75% of packaged food contains sugar. People in developed countries consume between a quarter pound and a half-pound of sugar every day.
Fruits and vegetables contain sugar too, but this sugar comes in a completely natural form and it is not concentrated. Besides that, fruits and vegetables contain fiber, water, and other nutrients, which change the effects of sugar. Packaged foods usually contain concentrated sugar that comes in a form of sugar crystals. Many studies have confirmed that refined sugar affects both, your body and brain.
For example, in animals, increased sugar consumption results in the appearance of three symptoms that are similar with those typical for substance abuse and addiction. These symptoms are – cravings, tolerance and withdrawal. In addition, some animals have experienced cross-dependence, reward, opioid effects and few other changes in the brain. There is no doubt that someone can become sugar-addicted.
The situation is similar when we talk about humans. Sugar works in the same way like opioids. People experience brain pathway stimulation and some people develop habits of sugar consumption. The urge for sugar they experience is very similar to the urge cocaine and nicotine addicts feel. People enjoy sugary products and they enjoy other foods too, but it looks like they can develop addiction easily only when we talk about sugar.
There is no doubt that foods that contain large amounts of sugar should be avoided, but how can we do that? First of all, the government can increase the price of foods and drinks that contain added sugar (increase the taxes). Schools, hospitals and other public institutions should limit or regulate the offer of products with added sugar.
Source: New York Times