By: Kevin Platt
A majority of Americans consume a substance in mass quantities on a daily basis. This particular substance has been linked to several medical problems that can lead to illnesses. These medical problems include: weight gain, obesity, elevated blood sugar and triglycerides, high blood pressure, and an increase in LDL. What is this highly addictive and destructive substance that millions of Americans consume with complete abandon? The answer is sugar and artificial sweeteners (Splenda and Sweet n Low).
Sugar can become an addiction in early childhood. Unhealthy, sugar packed foods are marketed toward children in the forms of cereal, pop tarts, soft drinks and juice boxes, just to name a few. Studies have shown that there has been an all-time rise in the incidence of Fatty Liver Syndrome in children attributed to the over consumption of sugary foods. Understanding and teaching limits when consuming foods containing sugar or artificial sweetener should start at a very young age.
Ever binge on SWEETS?!?
The reason we become addicted to sugar is because of a chemical in the brain called dopamine (the happy center). When we consume large amounts of sugar, the dopamine receptors start to down regulate. This means the next time we eat sugar the effects are blunted. We will need to eat more of the same thing to get the same level of reward. This is why we are more likely to binge on unhealthy food, which leads to weight gain.
As a society, we are taught to see sugary treats as a reward. Celebrations of all kinds usually include a cake of some type or baked goods. When attending a party, most people will bring soft drinks or a dessert to pass. We have trained our brains to look at these treats as “rewards and associate them with commemorations. This is not to say that one must avoid these treats at all times. Knowledge and moderation must play a key part. Being conscious of what we eat on a daily basis will help regulate our sugar intake.
Where are sugar and artificial sweeteners hidden?
Most “fat free” or “calorie free” foods and beverages are filled with sweeteners to enhance the taste. When purchasing groceries try to buy whole organic foods in their natural form with the least amount of ingredients. How can you make sure you’re not packing in any hidden sugar? Become a label detective! Look out for ingredients such as:
-High fructose corn syrup
This is just a short list of the many hidden names for sugar!
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