Sugar Addiction

Who out there does not get excited about the smell of fresh baked cookies? Candies, pies, and cakes are often the reward for something great.  We use sugar filled baked goods to celebrate everything from milestones like birthdays to graduations and retirements.  Special events do not happen every day, but what about that everyday sugar we consume?  If you eat any processed foods, you are probably taking in some sort of processed sugar.  Breakfast cereals, yogurts, sodas, salad dressings and pasta sauces often contain added sugar.  Sugar is highly addictive and totally legal.  The more we consume the more we want.  Yet this addiction to sugar kills.  Most recently, sugar has been shown to play a role in cardiovascular disease.

Sugar and Heart Disease

When you think of diseases caused or affected by sugar most people think of diabetes, very few think of heart disease.  A new study published in JAMA Internal Medicine is the first national study examining how added sugars affect rates of death from cardiovascular disease. The study found that people who consumed the highest amounts of sugar were more than twice as likely to die from cardiovascular disease.  Unlike the natural sugars existing in fruits and some vegetables, added sugars are added to foods during their processing and preparation. What products are the biggest sources of added sugar?  Sweetened beverages like soda are the leading source of added sugar followed by flour-based desserts, like cookies and cakes.  Even small amounts of sugar can add up to be far too much for many individuals.

How Addiction to Sugar Affects the Body

When we eat highly processed foods, including sugar, it stimulates dopamine secretion in the brain. Dopamine is a chemical in our body most closely associated with pleasure.  The more concentrated the sugar the more dopamine secreted so the better the food tastes.  Can you see how a person could develop an addiction to sugar?  At the same time, these so-called foods contain little to no nutritional value for the body.

Eliminate Your Risk

The most effective way to eliminate the risk of disease from processed sugar is to eliminate it from your diet.  This includes processed foods.  So start reducing the processed foods and start adding fresh fruits and vegetables, raw nuts and seeds, potatoes, yams, whole grains (but NOT flour products), and beans to your diet.  These foods will give you naturally occurring sugar accompanied by fiber and lots of nutrition.