“Like heroin, cocaine, and caffeine, sugar is an addictive, destructive drug, yet we
consume it daily in everything from cigarettes to bread.”
-William Dufty, author of Sugar Blues
Sugar addiction is real! I for one have experienced this, and perhaps some of you have also. Before we discuss how sugar affects our bodies, let’s talk about how it all started.
• In 1689, the first sugar refinery was built in New York City.
• In 1699, Colonists began to sweeten their breakfast porridge with refined sugar, and within 10 years, individual consumption had reached 4 pounds a year.
• The average American now consumes more than 100 pounds of sugar and sweeteners per year.
• In contrast, Americans consume an average of about 8 pounds of broccoli per year.
• The USDA recommends we get no more than 10 teaspoons per sugar per day, yet most Americans eat about 30 teaspoons per day, 3 times the liberal recommended daily value.
• The United States is the largest consumer of sweeteners and one of the largest global sugar importers.
Wow! This information is not only shocking but alarming. Before we can address what to do about the sugar crisis, we need to discuss the difference between unprocessed and refined sugar.
We as humans love sweet things. Even before we started refining sugar, we sought out foods with sweet tastes. Sugar is a simple carbohydrate that occurs naturally in foods such as: Grains, Beans,Vegetables, and Fruits. When sugar is unprocessed it contains a variety of vitamins, enzymes, proteins, and minerals. For instance, when brown rice and other whole grains are cooked, chewed, and digested, the natural carbohydrates break down uniformly into separate glucose molecules. These molecules enter the bloodstream where they are burned smoothly and evenly, allowing your body to absorb all the good stuff. However, refined table sugar, also called sucrose is very different. Extracted from either sugarcane or beets, sucrose lacks vitamins, minerals, and fiber and thus requires extra effort from the body to digest. The body must deplete its own store of minerals and enzymes to absorb sucrose properly. Therefore, instead of providing the body with nutrition, it creates a deficiency. It enters swiftly into the bloodstream and wreaks havoc on the blood sugar level, first pushing it sky high-causing excitability, nervous tension, and hyperactivity-and then dropping it extremely low-causing fatigue, depression, weariness, and exhaustion. This is where the emotional roller-coaster ride begins; We feel happy and energetic for a while, and then suddenly hit rock bottom and find ourselves acting like a crazy person. How many of us can relate to this? I certainly can!
Check out my next post where we will explore why sugar is addictive, how sugar affects our overall health, and how the food industry disguises sugar by using fancy language.
Source: Joshua Rosenthal, Integrative Nutrition, Article 2008