This statement will sound silly at first, but bear with me and read on. Sugar is a drug! A drug:
- Affects the structure or function of the body (1)
- Causes addiction, habituation or marked change in consciousness (1,3)
- Is habit forming (2)
- Can be used recreationally for its effects on the central nervous system (3)
Drugs have cycles of abuse and addiction, including sugar.
In fact, sugar may even be more addictive than recreational drugs such as cocaine (4,5).
When consumed, sugar has a drastic effect on blood sugar. Blood sugar spikes rapidly and then crashes just as rapidly after a massive release of insulin. The massive release of insulin leaves you short on energy and craving either more sugar or caffeine to fill the void. This blood sugar roller coaster creates quite a bit of physical, biochemical, and emotional stress. Over time this pattern leads to insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes.
It appears that some artificial sweeteners may be even worse than table sugar. Some artificial sweeteners are more strongly linked to type 2 diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular disease, fatty liver, developmental delays, behavioral problems, cancer and other health problems than standard table sugar (sucrose). Many refined sugars and artificial sweeteners are higher on the glycemic index list than more naturally occurring sugars and sweeteners. The glycemic index measures how fast blood sugar elevates when compared to a standard. The standard used is glucose. Glucose is rated at 100. The higher the number the greater and faster the spike in blood sugar.
Artificial sugars are more prevalent today than in the past. Artificial sugars are often cheaper to manufacture. They are just as addictive as standard table sugar. The combination of low cost and addictive properties means that they are often added into our food supply to increase consumption. The intentional manipulation of our food supply with sugar raises food industry profits. These hyper-palatable (very easy to eat) foods often are “wasted calories.” These are calories that our body doesn’t need. These are calories without nutrients.
Most people find it shocking that their first exposure to sugar probably came as a baby. Many commercially manufactured baby formulas, including Similac (see below), have either corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, table sugar (sucrose) or maltodextrin in them. All of these are high on the glycemic index list and addictive.
Recently there was an advertising campaign touting “sugar is sugar.” The commercial specifically attempted to tie high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) to table sugar (sucrose). Unfortunately, the claim may not have scientific merit:
- Digestion & metabolic pathways differ for HFCS compared to sugar
- Over consumption of HFCS leads to fatty liver (6, 8)
- HFCS affects blood sugar and satiety hormones differently (6)
- HFCS may contain mercury (7)
- HFCS may impact the gut lining leading to inflammation, immune attack and autoimmune disease (7)
- HFCS creates inflammatory changes to kidneys and blood vessels of lab animals (9)
- Lab animals gained more weight on HFCS than on table sugar even when other variables such as total calories and concentration of the sweetener were controlled for (8)
Obesity has risen rapidly since the introduction of HFCS (high fructose corn syrup) in the mid to late 1970’s. As HFCS consumption has increased, so has obesity going from roughly 10% in the mid to late 1970’s to 27% by the year 2000. Current estimates now indicate that obesity is at 36% (10, 11).
HFCS is not solely to blame for the crisis we face; however, it is a significant contributing factor. Our American lifestyle of stress, poor nutritional choices, and sugar addiction is breaking the bank on health care costs with the worst yet to come. If this piece has touched you, feel free to contact our office at 708-532-2346. Our office, The Center for Integrated Medicine, provides comprehensive conservative care solutions to the south suburbs of Chicago including Tinley Park, Orland Park, Orland Hills, Frankfort, Mokena, New Lenox , Palos Heights and Palos Park for sugar addiction, weight loss, metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes.