Are we all addicted to sugar without realising?

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Dopamine brain levels

The ‘reward’ hormone dopamine changes our brain activity and makes us want more and more of the substance

Sugar is up to  8 times more addictive than cocaine

I first realised I could be addicted to sugar when I returned to Malaysia this year and found that I could not finish a savory meal without having something sweet afterwards. Even if I was really full. This wasn’t simply a case of my mind ‘fancying’ something sweet, it actually wouldn’t relent until I satisfied the craving. I knew how bad it was for me to eat this much sugar but somehow I couldn’t stop. Until one day I decided enough was enough and decided to go cold turkey. No table sugar, syrup, honey or sugary fruit. After 3 days this craving went and I’m not gradually adding healthier sugars back into my diet . Here’s why I decided to do this:

Facts about sugar I believe everyone should know:

How did sugar become such a huge part of our normal diets?

In the 70’s  Americans protested about the rising costs of food . Under Nixon’s leadership small farms were gradually replaced with large-scale industrial  farms. Corn production dramatically increased to feed the ever-growing beef production. This surplus of corn was turned into a sweetener called fructose. This exciting new product was 1/3 cheaper than sugar (sucrose ).

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What did they use this corn syrup for?

Answer: just about everything. Bread, ketchup, cereals, juices and fizzy drinks, crackers, relishes and sauces, basically all processed food. Chips were fried in it and cows were fed it as a cheaper alternative to grass which fattened them up. However it also increased the risk of E-coli and heart disease for consumers.

highfructose.supermarket

In 1985 Coca cola changed its recipe and switched to corn syrup. They reinvested the huge profit made from this into manufacturing bigger bottles and cups at outlets. Coca Cola stated they were simply following the market, however their marketing became stronger and more aggressive. In under two decades, consumption doubled from an average 350 cans to 600 cans a year per person.

Fructose  is actually sweeter than sucrose so we should be able to use less of it, however Coca Cola actually used MORE because they found that the sweeter the drink the more we buy.download (1)

And so began our obesity epidemic.

Fizzy drinks are the single biggest cause of obesity yet the soft drinks manufacturers deny this.

Health consequences

We eat more than twice the safe amount of sugar (40kg a year).

Fructose suppresses our production of leptin. This is the hormone that tells us we are full. Without this we can carry on eating and eating and our brains won’t tell us to stop (I certainly know this feeling!)

80% of.Americans foods available contain sugar

1/3 American adults are obese

Obesity caused heart disease, diabetes, cancer and many other ailments

Why personal responsibility is not enough

The production of corn is government-subsidised more than the vegetable and fruit market. This food is then brought into our supermarkets, home and schools

It is neurochemically and biologically addictive in the same way as cocaine, heroin, nicotine and caffeine.

Snacking didn’t exist until the 70’s when the sugar industry literally created a gap in the market , began targeting children and thereby increasing our sugar intake further.

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TV advertising means that the average 2-year-old can name junk food brands in supermarkets, whilst many elementary school children cannot differentiate between a potato and a tomato.

There is a reason why it took so long for us to realise how bad sugar was for us

In 1972 John Yudkin published his book ‘Small white and deadly’ exposing how bad sugar was for our health. The sugar industry made great attempts to prevent his publication and attempted to discredit his name when this failed. So unfortunately his advice was ignored by us and we continued to consume sugar at an alarming rate.

In 1977 George McGovern, in charge of publishing the nutritional guidelines for Americans recommended a reduction in salt, sugar and fat and an increase in vegetables and whole grains. After the report’s release, the sugar industry buried the report, shifting the focus onto fat. For weeks after, media stories on the report didn’t even mention sugar.

This resulted in an increase of processed ‘low fat’ foods which we still see on our shelves today.

And voilà another market had been created.

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0% fat but 3.25g sugar

In 2003 the World Health Organisation were set to release a report setting limits on sugar in our diet. The sugar association threatened the director with a cut of $400 million of government funding. As a result these recommendations were never made)

 

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The sicker we get from sugar, the richer the pharmaceutical companies become. This is no coincidence.

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Companies argue it is our personal responsibility but information is kept secret , access is limited and healthy foods are more expensive

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What you can do

Avoid processed foods and check labels

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34g sugar (1/3 recommended daily consumption)

 

Don’t believe everything you see

Good news! A new sugar tax has been announced this year (March 2016) in the UK which will target high-sugar drink such as Coca Cola and Pepsi.

 

References

‘The men who made us fat 1,2&3’ BBC
‘The truth about sugar’ BBC
‘The secrets of sugar’ Science Channel National Geographic
‘Sugar : the bitter truth’ Dr Lustig
‘Sugar – the elephant in the kitchen’ Dr Lustig

‘Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution’

http://www.theguardian.com/society/2003/apr/21/usnews.food

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