I know. Sugar tastes great. I like sugar and there’s nothing like a nice sweet desert to finish a great meal. But these days I rarely eat sugar. When I do I actually get a pretty good buzz. I get a huge dopamine rush and all is great in my world. At least for a few minutes and after that I can never catch that high again no matter how much tiramisu I stuff in my face.
Now that I rarely eat sugar I am much more sensitive to its effects. I always feel less energetic the next day and my brain is not operating at its normal level. But for years I had no clue. I ate it, it tasted great, and I wasn’t aware of how it made me feel afterwards. I lived in a constant state of mediocrity.
And Americans are eating more sugar than ever these days. I’m talking all day, every day. According to the USDA the average American consumes 150 pounds of sugar a year and about 64 pounds of this is High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS), which is even worse than sugar. The next time you’re in the grocery store, go to the baking isle and pick up a 5 pound bag of sugar and put it in your cart. Now grab 29 more and put them in your cart and that’s how much sugar the average American eats.
Following are ten reasons you should dial back your sugar habit:
- Sugar is making us fat. It’s no secret that obesity is nearly everywhere in this country. Go to a Walmart or the county fair and look around. 35% of Americans are obese and 69% are overweight. Sugar is 50% glucose and 50% fructose. High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) is 60% fructose. When fructose enters you liver, 30% of it converts to fat. Also, sugar does not suppress ghrelin (ghrelin is a hormone that suppresses hunger), so although we consume a high number of calories from sugar, it doesn’t make us full and we keep on eating.
- Sugar is more addictive than cocaine. At least for rats. According to this study, http://bit.ly/ZgAwTo, given the choice between sugar and cocaine, rats will choose sugar. Even rats that already have an addiction to cocaine. Given the choice 94% will choose sugar. This is why it’s so hard to kick the sugar habit. We are completely hooked. Sugar and hard drugs both fire the same neural pathways in our brains, which stimulate dopamine signaling giving us feelings of pleasure and reward.
- Sugar is making us sick. Chronic fructose exposure promotes metabolic syndrome, which include obesity, Type II Diabetes, Cardiovascular Disease, and Hypertension. And we can now add cancer to the list. Cancer’s food of choice is sugar.
- Sugar causes Leptin resistance. You may not be familiar with Leptin but is the master hormone in our body and controls all of the other hormones. Having thyroid issues? Leptin resistance can cause this. Leptin resistance causes inflammation in the body and inflammation leads to a number of health problems.
- Sugar has ZERO nutritional value. ZERO Vitamins; ZERO Minerals; ZERO Enzymes; ZERO Fiber. Sugar does give us a quick energy boost, as it is rapidly absorbed in the bloodstream. However, the quick release of energy that sugar provides also fades quickly, and next thing we know we experience an energy crash.
- Sugar causes fatty liver disease. Fatty liver disease, also called NALFD (non-alcoholic fatty liver disease), affects 90 million Americans. Fatty liver disease causes inflammation, insulin resistance, high triglycerides, high small LDL (the bad cholesterol), low HDL (the good cholesterol), and increased belly fat, which is the hardest to get rid of. Pre-teen children raised on high sugar diets are now requiring liver transplants as a result of fatty liver disease.
- Sugar does the same thing to our liver as alcohol. Giving a child alcohol is not only illegal but is child abuse. However the sugar industry targets children and gets them hooked at a young age. The brain and liver can both metabolize alcohol however the liver is the only organ that can metabolize fructose. When the brain metabolizes alcohol we feel the effects. We get drunk and sometimes do stupid things. Because our brain cannot metabolize fructose, we don’t feel the effects. Chronic fructose exposure causes nearly all of the symptoms of chronic alcohol exposure. Fructose is a chronic liver toxin and is basically alcohol without the buzz.
- Sugar consumption causes erectile dysfunction. Yep, you heard that right. When fructose enters the liver and gets metabolized it blocks production of Nitric Oxide. Nitric oxide is believed to be neurotransmitter and chemical mediator of penile erection1.
- Sugar consumption interferes with the body’s use of protein. Sugar is sticky. Not only does it stick to your fingers but it sticks to proteins. When this happens it damages the proteins causing something called glycation. This leads to inflammation in the body, which can cause arthritis and headaches among other issues.
- Sugar alters the balance of microbes that inhabit our gut. There is a ton of new research showing the important role of bacteria in our gut. When your gut is healthy you have a healthy balance of bacteria. When it is not you often have an overgrowth of bad bacteria, which leads to all sorts of modern day disease. And just like cancer, the bad bacteria in our gut love sugar. When you have an excess of this bad bacteria you extract more calories from your food that are stored as fat.
So do yourself a favor and decrease your sugar consumption. You’ll look better, feel better, and most likely live a lot longer.
What have you noticed after reducing sugar in your diet?