Sugar is such a staple of the American diet, yet we don’t understand why we love it so much…rather why we are addicted. Sugarcane was domesticated on the island of New Guinea about 10,000 years ago. People would chew the cane in anticipation of the sweet taste of sugar. Eventually sugar became the cure for just about everything. Sugar can be found as part of the folklore. In fact sugar water would be sipped by priests during religious ceremonies (hmmm, like Coke). The Arabs were the ones who perfected the refinement process and by 1500 the demand for sugar was surging. Sugar was the equivalent of oil today, many countries and cultures went to battle over the control of sugar. This is a primary catalyst of the slave trade. Sugar refinement was considered low level labor and the ones in control didn’t want to pay for that labor at all. Eric Williams, a Trinidadian politician and historian, says “slavery was not born of racism, rather racism was the consequence of slavery”‘; in other words people were enslaved not because they were seen as inferior but because they were necessary to the prosperity of the sugar trade at that time.
Now that you’ve had a history lesson on the origin of sugar, I’ll cut right to the chase on why people are addicted to sugar. The simple answer is because an injection of sugar into the bloodstream stimulates the same pleasure centers of the brain that respond to heroin and cocaine. Yes, so in effect, the body could be interpreting sugar as a drug. That’s we, the brain, loves sugar. Let’s discuss why our bodies hate it.
Refined sugar is what is found in almost all of our foods. The sugar our bodies prefer is complex or found in fruits. Refined sugar are also empty calories, meaning we don’t get any real nutritional value from it. The ability to make one hyper is not the same thing as having sustainable energy. This is why people have a sugar crash. American eat 22.7 teaspoons of sugar per day. The food industry has been very sneaky about putting sugar into processed foods. For example, four slides of beef and pork bologna has 1.18 teaspoons; three tablespoons of ketchup has 1.77 teaspoons; can of cola has 7.93 teaspoons – you get the picture. The American Heart Association recommends a daily limit of six and nine teaspoons of sugar for women and men respectively. As a result of the increase use of sugar the population of type II diabetics (those not born with it) has increased from 2% of the total population, 4.2M, in 1973 to 7% or 21.1M in 2010. The Center for Disease Control estimates one in three people will have diabetes by 2050.
Given these stats it’s very difficult for people to just give up sugar, remember it behaves as a drug in our brain – but it behaves as shards of glass in our bodies. Not only does sugar put on the pounds it destroys the body from within. Read the nutrition labels to find out what is in the food you’re eating. It’s very difficult to avoid refined sugar all together, but if you’re sticking to whole foods you reduce your exposure significantly.
Start breaking your sugar addiction TODAY. Opt for a piece of fruit versus candy. Stick with whole food. And put down that can of soda. Yes…diet soda too. While diet soda doesn’t contain refined sugar it contains other chemicals that aren’t good for you and actually mimics the effect of sugar on the body. If you’re trying to lose weight, cut down on the refined sugars.
I’m just keeping it new.