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Sugar: The Legal Heroin
Sweet Grains of Destruction:
Okay, so lets cut right to the chase here,“Sugar” is a deadly toxin — not only does it rot your teeth, cause obesity, induce unnatural mood swings and create unsightly pimples; but like cigarette smoke it is responsible for a wide array of serious illnesses such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure and cancer.
A major study published online in Feb 2014 by JAMA Internal Medicine concluded that an excess of sugar in the diet may increase the risk of dying from heart disease. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), obesity has doubled worldwide since 1980 — in 2013, forty two million children under the age of 5 were either overweight or obese, although numerous individuals are in strong denial about the lethal repercussions of sugar consumption. The hard truth is that every one of us knows deep down that sugar is bad news; and we would secretly love to significantly reduce its presence in our diet. However, sugar is a highly addictive substance; if this were not true, then people would not be consuming it in the absurd quantities they do.
Basic Brain Chemistry
Many readers may be shocked to learn there are startling similarities between sugar and heroin consumption, regarding the chemical effects these substances have on the brain — both trigger an immediate thrill of intense pleasure, (though initially heroin creates a much stronger reaction).
Particles of heroin rapidly attach themselves to endorphin receptors, in the case of sugar it is the dopamine receptors that are mostly affected. In both cases the body is flooded with these two feel good chemicals, as tolerance to these hormones increases, sensitivity is decreased — thus, in order to attain the same level of satisfaction more of each particular substance is required. Sugar consumption also leads to the release of endogenous opioids in the brain, when this happens it causes a pleasant rush similar to injecting heroin (if not of the same magnitude).
Interestingly enough, recovering heroin addicts display increased cravings for sugar based products in the initial phase of withdrawal. This is known as cross-tolerance, and happens between two different substances that induce the same brain chemistry, the result being that the one substance makes it easier to become addicted to the other substance.
Food Manufacturers are the World’s Biggest Drug Pushers
Unfortunately, there is yet more bad news to come — since food manufacturers are intent on creating a strong continuous market for their products, they need to find a way to ensure that the consumer will keep coming back for more. The most effective way of achieving this is to sneak in all kinds of food additives; this causes consumers to become addicted to their products, thus ensuring a strong and continuous stream of income.
One of the most common additives in commercially produced food today is High Fructose Corn Syrup. (HFCS) which is simply Cornstarch that has been intensely refined to produce a syrup. This technique was first discovered in 1957 by Richard O. Marshall and Earl R. Kobin at the Oklahoma Agricultural Experimental Station, it was further developed by Japanese scientists in the 1960’s.
Fructose is the sugar that is found naturally in fruit and certain other plants, however in concentrated form it becomes profoundly toxic. When fructose based foods are processed or refined it becomes much easier to consume this type of sugar in greater quantities. For example, consider the unlikely scenario of attempting to eat 20 large oranges every day; it would be infinitely easier to achieve this by processing the oranges through a juice extractor and eliminating the fibre.
A study published in 2008 by the American Journal of Physiology showed that excess fructose consumption causes an increase in leptin resistance — leptin is the hormone that sends a signal to the brain to tell it that we are no longer hungry. If the body becomes resistant to this chemical however the brain does not respond properly, hence overeating occurs.
Because it is so cheap to produce as well as being highly addictive, HFCS is favoured as an additive by food manufacturers, and hence it is to be found in almost any type of processed food. From breakfast cereals through salad dressings to commercial bread — you will find HFCS in almost every packaged or processed food item on sale. It gets even worse though — since there are three enzymes that are used in the processing of HFCS, two of which, Alpha-amylase and Glucose isomerase are genetically modified in order to increase their stability.
According to Dr Mark Hyman MD; sugar is one of the biggest culprits of a condition known as Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease, (NFLD) this is where fat accumulates around the liver and can lead to scarring of the tissue and even liver failure. Dr Hyman states that “High Fructose Corn Syrup found in our processed foods is the single biggest cause of fatty liver disease”. The number one HFCS product in the American diet that contributes to this condition is drinking soda.
The First Steps to Breaking Your Sugar Addiction!
Although the information presented in this article hitherto may appear somewhat bleak and dismal the intention here is not to impose depression upon the reader — rather it is hoped that this will instead prompt them to seek out ways of breaking this dangerous addiction. In anticipation we have provided a few basic pointers to help you get started on your journey to a healthier sugar free life.
A word of warning: breaking your sugar habit is not going to be easy; you will need to modify your eating habits for life and you will need to overcome multiple obstacles. For example, many of your favourite foods will be out of bounds, since they harbour the addictive comestibles you are striving to break free from.
In order to succeed it is going to require a significant amount of, planning and willpower — a good place to begin would be to start reading the ingredients on food labels (with a magnifying glass if necessary) and research the impact of each additive. As you study food labels you will quickly come to realize that many of your favourite savoury foods and snacks are also liberally laced with sugar; thus you will need to seek out healthy alternatives to replace these items, such as spicy roasted nuts and seeds in place of chips.
In your quest to eliminate harmful sugar and sugar based products from your diet, beware of swapping out one harmful substance and replacing it with another, such as substituting sugar with artificial sweeteners like Aspartame, which is a hydrolysate comprised of hydrogenated starch. These lethal chemically based sweeteners are to be found in almost any product that is labelled as sugar free.
Your commitment to a reduced sugar intake will inevitably create certain social issues, such as those described by Eve O Schaub in her article What I Learned From a Year of no Sugar. Accept that you will become a social outcast at gatherings, since most likely the majority of food items on the menu will be off limits for you as most dishes will probably contain hidden sugar of one form or another.
Taking into consideration the fact that you will need to start preparing more of your own food rather than relying on convenience foods, it would be prudent to invest in a slow cooker or two. These are wonderful appliances to have around your kitchen as they greatly simplify the process of healthy home cooking; from freshly made pasta sauces to hearty stews and casseroles. The good news here is; these gadgets can be picked up for as little as $20, while many models now incorporate advanced features such as smart timers which can be controlled from mobile devices.
As with all forms of addiction, you will most likely succeed by progressive withdrawal rather than attempting to go Cold Turkey. Since your body will need time to adjust to the lower quantities of sugar it receives, it will be less stressful if you reduce your sugar intake gradually. The author suggests using the 30 Day Habit technique; by breaking down your withdrawal program into discrete phases, each of which you should practice for 30 days continually before moving on to the net phase. The theory behind this, is that when you constantly execute an activity for 30 days straight (such as eliminating sugar from hot beverages) it then becomes a lifestyle habit.
During your sugar detox program your taste buds will start to regain their sensitivity, and become less tolerant of sugar based products. In a nutshell you will become disgusted with all the sugary foods you used to consume, wondering how on earth you managed to devour so many bad calories; void of nutrition but loaded with danger.
It’s Time to Take Control Back From the Food Manufacturers
In 2013 the fast food industry alone generated 191 billion dollars within the US, and this figure is predicted to reach in excess of 210 billion by 2018 — in essence, all of this profit comes at a high cost to your health. Although corporations are meant to be there to serve the public, in the case of the food industry it seems the converse is true, as food manufacturers continue to shamelessly rake in record profits to the detriment of the consumer.
It’s time to take control out of the hands of the food manufacturers and give it back to the consumer. We need to understand the only reason these corporations are in business is due to consumer buying — knowing this the food manufacturers have done a sterling job of enslaving society by introducing unnatural substances into their products. Consequently the world is full of feeble addicts. hooked on lethal foodstuffs containing substances that will ultimately destroy their lives if not kill them.
It doesn’t have to continue to be this way however; we can start changing attitudes by exposing the scandalous practices employed by the food industry. Eventually there will be enough support from the masses to force these manufacturers into producing safer food — we are already starting to see the first signs of opposition to this ridiculous insanity from several high profile groups and celebrities.
In her crusade to end childhood obesity in America and encourage healthier eating habits — first lady Michelle Obama has been promoting her Let’s Move initiative; a collaborative based campaign which educates communities on the dangers of unhealthy food choices. In addition, the campaign has put pressure on Congress to force food manufacturers to practice more responsible food labelling.
Meanwhile in 2008 British celebrity chef Jamie Oliver began his Ministry of Food Campaign to ban unhealthy eating in British schools. His efforts have reached the forefront of the British political system, and succeeded in changing the types of meals that were served in British schools — recently Oliver has been active in educating Americans in the US.
However, with billions of dollars at stake the food industry is not going to simply roll over in submission — using its significant lobbying power, it has been able to wield substantial influence over the politicians. Such tactics can be evidenced by the Republican party’s attempt to Weaken the School Nutrition Standards that the Let’s Move campaign was successful in getting passed.
We should realize that while the food industry continues to increase its profits every year, obesity related diseases which are largely due to the food industry’s irresponsible push to impose precarious eating habits on society which now costs the American Health Care Industry 150 billion dollars per year. More importantly than this, the lives of millions are being destroyed by the virulent foods that are forced onto them by cold heartless food producers.
Although the battle against food manufacturers is a tough one, it is by no means an impossible one. However, it will take an unwavering determination and persistence on the part of medical professionals, nutritionists and other fervent campaigners, to bring indisputable evidence to the masses on how the food industry has betrayed them — only then will it be possible to defeat this treachery.
During the process of refinement, certain chemicals and unnatural processes are applied to food and drugs — the more excessively a substance has been refined, the more harmful it becomes. Consider how morphine which is an opiate extracted from the opium poppy is less addictive and harmful than heroin, which is an intensely refined form of morphine. The same paradigm runs true for the food industry; the more intense the refinement and processing the more harmful it becomes. This is the reason that products such as HFCS and white sugar are more detrimental to your health than the raw product — also do not be fooled into believing that brown sugar is somehow healthier than white sugar. Brown sugar is merely white sugar that has been coloured with molasses.
However, there are several products on the market consisting of partially refined sugar-cane which result in larger crystals and hence are distinct from the brown sugar as described above. Although these products are all partially refined sugars, each one undergoes a slightly different process and is marketed under its own special name such as Demerara, Muscovado, and Turbinado sugar.
In this article the author has endeavoured to document an accurate and candid account regarding the dangers associated with a sugar laden diet — the main objective being to alert the reader to the truth behind sugar and sugar related diseases. It is hoped that the reader will now begin to view sugar as the subtle yet deadly addictive substance it truly is, and not merely a delightful naughty food of empty calories.
Other types of processes applied to foodstuffs such as Genetically Modified (GMO) fruits and vegetables are also a cause for deep concern. however, a discussion on such a topic is out of the scope of this article.
- Wanjek Christopher “Sugar Should be Regulated as a Toxin Experts say” Live Science 02/01/2012, Web 01/08/2015: http://www.livescience.com/18244-sugar-toxic-regulations.html
- Fuhrman, Dr. “Dr Fuhrman’s 3 Day Sugar Detox” The Doctor Oz Show 10/9/2014 Web 01/04/2015: http://www.doctoroz.com/article/dr-fuhrmans-3-day-sugar-detox
- Black Rosemary “Sugar as addictive as cocaine heroin study suggests” The New York Daily Times 12/11/08 Web 01/04/2015: http://www.nydailynews.com/life-style/health/sugar-addictive-cocaine-heroin-studies-suggest-article-1.356819
- Keller Alania Sugar is as addictive as heroin says study” Collective Evolution 10/14/2013, Web 01/09/2015: http://www.collective-evolution.com/2013/10/14/sugar-is-addictive-one-of-the-most-dangerous-substances-we-consume/
- Avens, Nicole. M. (et al,) “Evidence for sugar addiction: Behavioral and neurochemical effects of intermittent sugar intake” Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews 01/01/2009, Web 01/066/2015: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2235907/
- Cann, Kevin, “Sugar is a drug” Robb Wolf Revolutionary Solutions to Modern Life 12/21/2012, Web 01/06/2015: http://robbwolf.com/2012/12/21/sugar-drug/
- UCTV, Sugar the Bitter Truth, Youtube Youtube 07/30/2009, Web 01/05/2015: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dBnniua6-oM
- Andrews, Travers “Experts warn of increasing threat of sugar addiction to SA’s population” Youtube Youtube 10/17/2013 Web 01/09/2015: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3nQXWDx4hs8
- Kirkpatrick, Kristin “10 things you don’t know about sugar(And what you don’t know could hurt you)” Huffington Post 07/30/2013 Web 01/08/2015: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/kristin-kirkpatrick-ms-rd-ld/dangers-of-sugar_b_3658061.html
- Helmich, Nancy “Eating Too Much Added Sugar may be Killing you” USA Today 02/04/2014 Web 01/08/2015: http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2014/02/03/added-sugars-heart-disease-death/5183799/