By: Michael Brown
Are you addicted? Well of course not — most would say!
When we hear that word, we think: alcohol, tobacco, even drugs. Maybe (though probably not) we think: caffeine.
How often do we think: sugar?
Not so much, is the bet here, but in fact sugar is one of the great addictions — perhaps the great addiction — of our time. You heard that correctly. Who among us has not encountered it?
Any addiction is bad. But overuse of sugar is hardly ever seen as that. Instead, we might say, “I have a sweet tooth,” or “I love my chocolate,” as if it’s simply a trait we’re born with.
Everyone loves something sweet. Few indeed are those who don’t “love” candy (especially milk chocolate, as opposed to the healthier dark variety). The problem comes in when we overuse sugar, when we rely on it, when we “can’t go” without it, when it is always on our minds. Scientists have learned that sugar as used most commonly in Western nations stimulates the same part of the brain as is excited by something like cocaine.
It gives us a “jolt.” It touches a place that brings a result that is pleasing at least initially, at least to the senses.
But we are also finding out that it too can be a deadly habit.
This can become a “spirit of addiction”; at the least it indicates a lack of discipline, and discipline is a key to happiness (here and hereafter). It prolongs life.
Sugar can do the opposite. Overuse of it (in particular refined white sugar, and especially high-fructose) is widely implicated in obesity, diabetes, deterioration of organs, premature aging, imperfect skin, and cancer. Read every label for “high-fructose” sugar or corn syrup or whatever form it may take and you’ll get an idea of how pervasive it is.
High-fructose ingredients are artificial — not made by God — and thus they can trip up the mechanisms in the body that tell the liver there has been an input of sugar — thus causing you to want even more of it (and all the while building fat up around your internal organs, a hidden cause of obesity in the West).
When folks suffering from serious disease remove sugar, salt, and high-acid foods from their lives, they often experience marked improvement in what ails them. High-fructose is even implicated in joint disorders such as arthritis.
Refined white sugar, meanwhile — table sugar — is sugar that has been stripped of life forces, vitamins, and minerals. Nature needs those ingredients to properly metabolize it. Instead, a form of acid is created that accumulates, among other places, in the brain (while interfering with respiration in cells throughout the body). They are starting to think that many of the inflammation and cholesterol issues they thought were caused by meat may have come from overuse of refined sugars. (Here’s a medical overviewof it.)
Cancer cells feed off sugar because they are anaerobic, relying on sugar instead of oxygen to generate energy for the cell. Theyferment. You certainly don’t want to provide fuel for cells like that!
Limit sugar — or better, rid your pantry of refined white sugar, period. Replace it with cane sugar, brown sugar, raw sugar, or best of all, honey. (Some also opt for stevia.)
The great preponderance of evidence warns against high-fructose syrups along with the refined white stuff. Once you start looking, you’ll be amazed at how many products have high-fructose in them! Like anything man-made (overly processed), the body does not handle it as it handles what is more natural. (Do we really think we can improve on what God made?)
“There are the same kinds of changes in brain dopamine, in animals given intermittent access to sugar, as in drug addicts,” noted one scientist.
If you want sweet (and who doesn’t; we’re hardwired for it), eat fruit; get natural maple syrup. Refined sugar not only lacks nutrients, but depletes vitamins and minerals from our bodies. (More on its health repercussions here.) There is no such thing as a good addiction. Any addiction means you have lost a bit of your free will. You know an addiction by its effects. It used to be that the addiction of smoking cigarettes caused most cancer deaths. Remember those days? It is still a big problem: About twenty-five percent of cancers are caused by this. But now thirty to thirty-five percent of cancer deaths are linked to eating habits and obesity.
A bad habit is an addiction.
Sugar is hardly alone. Many things in the modern diet are addicting. In the future, we’ll address bleached salt as well as bleached flour. The point for now: the farther we take things from God (making them more marketable), the more precarious the situation is.