In 1900 the average yearly consumption of sugar was 5lbs per person, a figure which sky-rocketed to 150lbs by 2000. In the last decade, consumption has increased a further 23%.
Where sugar was once used sparingly, sugar has found its way into almost every processed food. Sure, packaged cakes, cookies and chocolate are sugar-laden, but most consumers don’t think twice about the sugar content in ‘savory’ foods like crackers, chips, bread, fries, sauces, spreads, processed meats, and even ‘healthy’ foods like juices, yogurt and low-fat cereals.
While we might take the ‘everything in moderation’ approach, and try to limit our intake of ‘sweet things’, the fact remains that with all the hidden sugar, the average American consumes 22 teaspoons per day (the average child consumes 32). A glass of juice or soda alone contains approximately 10 teaspoons of sugar, which in liquid form hits the liver faster.
How far off are we from a healthy ‘moderation’ you ask? The American Heart Association recommends no more than 6 teaspoons per day for women and 9 teaspoons for men.
So what’s so bad about sugar? After all it is naturally occurring right? Yes, absolutely. But so is Ethanol.
Everyone knows consumption of refined sugar can cause obesity and type 2 diabetes, but did you know it is directly linked to metabolic syndrome (cancer and heart attack), cardiovascular disease, insomnia, skin problems, ADD/ADHD, hypoglycemia, depression, allergies, mood swings, hair loss, asthma and a whole host of gut-related ailments. The American Dietetic and Diabetic Associations credit increased sugar consumption as the leading cause of degenerative disease.
How? Sugar works in many ways. Fructose (which makes up 50% of sucrose, or table sugar) is the only molecule with no corresponding appetite hormone to tell us when we’ve had enough, making it extremely addictive. It depletes the body of Vitamin B, causing heart palpitations, chronic fatigue, paranoia, anxiety, insomnia, difficulty focusing, restlessness, indigestion and cravings.
Sugar converts to fat faster and more easily than high-calorie, natural saturated fats, and it a purely ’empty’ calorie, containing no vitamins or minerals whatsoever. In fact, research has shown that an animal will live longer consuming only water rather than a water/sugar solution. It makes the digestive system acidic, pulling vitamins and minerals, particularly potassium and magnesium, from the body.
By suppressing the immune system, sugar causes an over-production of digestive enzymes that puts stress on the pancreas, impairs liver function (leading to high blood pressure), inhibits blood flow and affects the aging process.
But the worst part? It’s so addictive. It releases an opiate-like substance that activates the brain’s reward system. Studies have shown it to be more addictive than a host of recreational drugs, and it’s removal from the diet causes withdrawal symptoms like fatigue, depression, headaches, achy limbs and cravings.
So if we know all this, why are we still being sold what is possibly the world’s most addictive poison? Food producers know that it is one of the most addictive substances on earth, which is why they put it in their hamburger buns, and salad dressings, pasta sauces and mayonnaise.
When you think that our digestion and metabolism haven’t changed in the last 130,000 years, one has to ask how our bodies are coping. The answer is in the statistics; they aren’t.