One would assume that sugar is just a simple additive that you might put in your coffee or add to your baked goods, but in fact it is a complicated molecule that has real effects to the human body when consumed in large doses.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends that the amount of added sugars is less than 10% of one’s total energy intake, further stating that limiting intake to below 5% would have added benefits. Five per cent of one’s total energy intake equates to about 25 grams (around 6 teaspoons) of sugar per day for the average adult. Shockingly, the average adult in Australia currently consumes about 108 grams of sugar (about 27 teaspoons), well above the recommended dietary guidelines.
Sugar is an ‘empty calorie’. It has no nutritional value and provides no fibre, vitamins, minerals or other nutrients; the biggest offenders of ‘empty calories’ are sugary sodas, energy drinks and sport drinks. For example, if you consume one can of regular coke, you would have had 39 grams of sugar. That is already above the recommended maximum daily intake. Of course, not all sugars are equal. Sugar that is consumed through natural sources, such as fruit, has the nutritional benefits of vitamins and fibre. For comparison, one standard candy bar has the same amount of sugar as consuming ten apples, yet none of the nutritional benefits.
Sugar is the primary dietary factor that drives obesity and chronic disease development. A diet high in sugar may raise your risk of dying of heart disease, even if you are not overweight. Also, similar to the effects of alcohol, too much consumption of sugar overloads and damages your liver, as your liver metabolises sugar the same way that alcohol does.
Unfortunately, not only is sugar harmful to your health, it is also addictive. Brain scans after sugar consumption have shown that dopamine levels flood the brain in the same manner that drugs do. In lab studies, rats are found to crave and prefer sugar sweetened water over 90% of the time over water laced with cocaine. They even showed symptoms of withdrawal.
Scientific literature suggests that human are born biologically craving sugar. The liking of sweet tastes during development may have ensured the acceptance of sweet tasting foods, such as mother’s milk and fruits. A heightened preference for sweet tasting foods is universal and evident among children all around the world.
In summary, we are born craving sugar. It is as addictive as drugs can be. It is harmful to our health and causes tooth decay and cavities. Yet, sugar is currently added to everything! It is added to ‘low fat’ foods to make it taste better. It is disguised in breads and sauces and used as preservatives in foods like jam and canned fruit and vegetables. It is like a sweet poison that pleases our palate and makes us want more and more without us even knowing we want more.
We, at Complete Chiropractic, have decided to challenge ourselves to eliminate sugar from our diet. For two weeks, we will commit to reading all nutritional labels and avoid all processed foods. We will limit our intake of alcohol and chocolate and will attempt to rewire our brain to eliminate the cravings of sugar. Join us in our two week Sugar Challenge! Find all details on our Facebook page.