That sweet tooth is sometimes hard to ignore, but sugar can have a huge impact on your overall health and well-being. Sugar provides empty calories, so a diet high in sugar often has too many calories, leading to a lot of problems, including weight gain.
Sugar, in moderate amounts, is essential to our body. As a carbohydrate, it helps supply you with the energy you need for your daily activities. All of your cells use it. But at the same time, sugar is also a calorie, and once it is in consumed in excess, negative effects to your health will follow. Massive sugar addiction can result in obesity, diabetes, heart damage or failure, cancer cell production, depletion of brain power, and shorter lifespans.
Moderation is important in this case. Yet avoiding food with high sugar content is definitely easier said than done these days, given the variety of options in stores. Some of the usual suspects include energy drinks, sodas, candy bars, artificial sweeteners, and so much more. Everyone has access to them.
What Lies Behind Sugar Addiction
Sugar addiction obviously begins when you crave anything that contains this sweet ingredient. Eating sugar triggers production of natural opioids in your brain. These hormones aid in relieving the pain and are triggered in the same way one would consume illegal drugs.
According to researchers, your tongue has two sweet receptors in it, which evolved during the early times, when our ancestors ate a typically low-sugar diet. As the years went by, people’s tongues were still not able to adapt to sweet treats. This is why when the receptors in your tongue are highly stimulated, it results in your brain sending out excessive reward signals whenever you eat something with sugar in it, which end up overriding your self-control mechanisms. This leads to addiction.
Another major player in possible sugar addiction is the hormone leptin. It is responsible for telling the brain how energy that is stored from fat is to be used. Moreover, it targets taste receptors in your tongue, which could increase or decrease your food cravings. When you lack leptin or if there is a problem with your body’s leptin receptors, then your chances of craving food will be bigger, and more often than not, sugar is always the first pick when it comes to combating cravings.
Which sugar to avoid and why?
Sucrose is at the heart of the problem. And the biggest source of Sucrose in our diet is table sugar.
Sucrose hides in processed and packaged foods, and foods we know as junk foods. Cookies, crackers, tomato sauce and even the most unlikely salted foods have a high content of sugar in them. Big food organizations use sugar in their foods to entice our taste buds. And here they are extremely potent, triggering addictive behaviors.
Interestingly, none of our bodily processes require the bursts of high energy that sucrose provides. And all that excess energy simply accumulates as fat in our body.
The structure of sugar
The way sucrose is metabolized in our body is decidedly different from the way other sugars are processed. And the main reason for this is the chemical structure of the sugar.
Sucrose is a simple sugar or monosaccharide (as it is called). This sugar is chemically made up of a single ring of carbon attached to an oxygen molecule. To release energy from this simple sugar the digestive processes ensure that the bond between the carbon ring and oxygen is broken. For larger more complex sugars or polysaccharides, breaking these bonds requires considerable energy.
The complex sugars are therefore better for the body, as the carbon rings are broken in time and the energy is released systematically. With simple sugars, on the other hand, energy release is instantaneous causing momentary spiking of our blood sugar levels.
The refining process
There are natural sugars found in a variety of fruits and vegetables. Even table sugar is extracted from sugar cane. Beetroots, tomatoes, apples, bananas and mangoes are rich in natural sugar.
When we consume an apple or banana, we take in the sugar as well as the cellulose and fibre material that the food contains. In a number of cases, the whole foods also contain plant enzymes that are beneficial to our digestive process. This way the whole foods are a package deal, delivering energy as well as other essential material to our body.
The refining journey that sugar cane undertakes to become table sugar, is one where the sweetness is concentrated, the energy and calories are extracted, and the nutrients and fiber materials are discarded. When we consume sugar in this form, it becomes detrimental to our health. It wreaks havoc, causing us to put on weight, and become prone to diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular disorders and even cancer.
Naturally, it is hard to avoid sugar altogether. It is far easier to consider healthier alternatives. Whole foods instead of fruit juice and refined sugar, lesser processed more home cooked meals, and regular exercise. These methods are faultless. Further, go through a detox program once in six months. This is highly recommended to help cleanse your system of all remnant sugar and toxins.