By: Tasha Turnbull|Fitness Expert
Could the sugar added to your cupcakes and favorite brand of potato chips be as addictive as cocaine? According to Dr. Eric Stice, a neuroscientist at the Oregon Research Institute, this statement is true. Last year, CBS’ 60 Minutes aired a story with Dr. Sanjay Gupta outlining the detrimental effects sugar has on our health. Stice revealed that eating or drinking a sugary substance such as soda causes dopamine, a chemical that activates our pleasure center, to release in to the brain, just as it would in response to us doing drugs or alcohol. Stice went on to say, “sugar activates our brain in a special way, that’s very reminiscent of drugs like cocaine.” What is even more troubling about sugar is the body’s ability to build a high level of tolerance for the sweetener. The more sugar we eat it, the less you feel the reward, causing you to eat more to feel the sense of enjoyment you previously experienced. Ever heard the saying, “You can’t eat just one?”
Sugar’s affect on the body
In addition to sugar’s harmful ability to function as a drug in your system, it can also contribute to you developing certain diseases. According to Dr. Robert Lustig, a pediatric endocrinologist at the University of California, San Francisco, sugar is a “toxin” that increases your chances of developing type II diabetes, obesity, hypertension, and heart disease. The excess sugar your body takes in is sent to the liver as glucose and becomes stored as fat. Some of this additional fat ends up in the blood stream, causing plaque to form along artery walls, increasing your risk of developing diseases such as heart disease. In addition, to your cardiovascular and endocrine body systems affected by excess sugar, reports also show that sugar has a harmful effect on cancer growth. Dr. Lewis Cantley, head of the Beth Israel Deaconness Cancer Center said cancers, such as breast and colon, contain insulin receptors, which feed off glucose traveling through the body; causing these tumors to grow in size.
Where do we go from here?
Believe it or not, sugar (and high fructose corn syrup) is lurking in foods we eat every day such as pre-packaged frozen and dry meals, chips, cookies, breads, biscuits, potatoes, waffles, cereals, sauces, granola bars, snack crackers, candy, yogurt, etc. This sweet substance can also be found in fruit juices, iced teas, flavored water, and sodas.
According to Lustig, women should limit their sugar intake to no more than what is in a 12 oz soda each day. Start out with switching your snacks to fruits (which are naturally sweet). Choose lean meat, whole grains and cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cabbage, kale) as a part of your regular diet.
If you regularly drink flavored beverages (this includes drinks sweetened with Splenda and Truvia), cut your consumption by half each week; replace it with water. It might not be possible for you to eliminate all sugar from your diet. However, studies show that we consume too much sugar on a daily, and we must reduce our sugar intake to protect ourselves for the long run.
Source: CBS News