As good as sugar tastes and as friendly as it may seem to our tastebuds, it is simply terrible for us. I’m not talking about the sugar we might naturally find in foods as we eat them, I am instead referring to the added and refined sugar which accounts for the majority of our sugar intake.
Sugar cane has a very long history. Originally from Southeast Asia, it made its way to the new world with Christopher Columbus in 1492 on his voyage to the Dominican Republic. It grew well in this tropical environment and flourished all over the Caribbean – specifically in Brazil. Interestingly enough, many of the first people who were taken to be slaves from Africa were sent directly to work on sugar cane plantations (surely something to think about).
What’s The Deal With Sugar?
Over the past several years, there has been a tremendous amount of research coming out that shows us just how detrimental the extremely popular ingredient is to our health. In fact, many are calling sugar the tobacco of the 21st century.
Sugar in all of its processed forms — including but not limited to cane sugar, high fructose corn syrup, glucose/fructose, saccharide, agave nectar, and most “honey” and “syrup” sold in stores — is not only one of the top contributing factors to the obesity and diabetes epidemic, but is also extremely addictive. Sugar produces dopamine in the brain, the “happy-feel-good” chemical.
People who are addicted need sugar to feel normal, and will go through withdrawal symptoms if they don’t get it. Interestingly, many people don’t even realize that they are even addicted to sugar because it is not yet common knowledge that sugar has this property, and let’s face it — it’s everywhere.
Juice, soda, cereal, condiments, sauces, practically every processed and packaged food, it can be difficult to avoid and often times we are entirely unaware that we are even consuming it.
Is high fructose corn syrup really addictive? Is this why we can’t seem to get enough? Dr. Francesco Leri certainly seems to think so. Dr. Leri is an Associate Professor of Neuroscience and Applied Cognitive Science at the University of Guelph, Ontario, Canada. On May 23 Dr. Leri presented his study that caused behavioural reactions in rats that linked to the same problems produced by addictive drugs.
Dr. Leri stated that, “Addiction to unhealthy foods could help explain the global obesity epidemic.” Professor Leri also said, “We have evidence in laboratory animals of a shared vulnerability to develop preferences for sweet foods and for cocaine.”
David Kessler, a former head of the Food and Drug Administration, believes that sugar is just as addictive as cigarettes and he says that it is “highly pleasurable, it gives you this momentary bliss. When you’re eating food that is highly hedonic, it sort of takes over your brain.”
As mentioned above, sugar is largely to blame for obesity and diabetes, but did you know that there are many studies which show that cancer cells actually feed off sugar?
An Issue With Current Cancer Research
As I was doing research for this article I checked out the cancer.ca website and was actually a bit surprised by what I found. Sugar, relating to cancer, was under the “myths and controversies” section.
The website flat out stated that sugar consumption has no ties to cancer development, but did say that sugar consumption can lead to obesity which can lead to cancer. This is a prime example of how the majority of mainstream cancer research facilities or charities seem to pay no attention to preventative measures.
Yet clearly the information they have provided should lead them to recommend that people drastically limit their processed sugar intake.
It is especially surprising to me how this website can denounce the claims made against sugar in regards to cancer, yet, as mentioned above, there have been many legitimate studies done which demonstrate the relationship. Scientists have been able to prove that cancer cells directly feed off excess sugar.
For example, in the 1930’s and 1940’s, Nobel prize winning scientist Otto Warburg demonstrated that all cancer cells share a trait of being primarily anaerobic and cannot revert back to normal aerobic functioning.
All healthy cells in our bodies require an environment rich in oxygen, Warburg successfully showed that cancer cells thrive in an environment depleted of oxygen. He also proved that instead of using oxygen, cancer cells use a method of cell respiration called glycolysis, which is the fermentation of glucose (a form of sugar). Without glucose to meet their energy needs, cancer cells die.
Putting An End To The Sugar Confusion
Whether this information is news to you or not, many people are often left confused when it comes to sugar, mainly because sugar occurs naturally in a lot of different fruits and vegetables. And after all, in its original state it is a natural substance.
The problem with the majority of sugar that is added to our foods today is that it is highly processed and completely taken away from its natural form. Most of the white sugar that you will find on the market today doesn’t even come from sugar cane.
It comes from genetically modified sugar beets, which means it is also produced with a number of different pesticides. An extremely popular additive, present in most processed foods, is High Fructose Corn Syrup. This substance is also produced using genetically modified corn and has been shown to be highly addictive and toxic to our bodies.
Fruit does have sugar, however these are naturally occurring sugars that our bodies are able to properly digest and utilize because they come with the necessary fibers required to break them down. A general rule of thumb is to avoid any form of sugar that has been overly processed.
Some great alternatives are raw, unpasteurized honey, pure maple syrup, and coconut sugar. You can also use fruits such as dates in baking to sweeten up your recipe.
Source: Collective Evolution