Having a sweet tooth could be more than just a taste preference. Do you feel like you are constantly craving a sweet treat? A recent study revealed that sugar could actually be more addictive than cocaine. Being humans, once we taste the sweet goodness of anything with sugar in it, we are biologically wired to want more. Although sugar tastes delicious, the damage it can have on our bodies is extreme.
So is it possible to be addicted to sugar? Absolutely! Not only can sugar be even more addicting than drugs, like cocaine or heroin, sugar is everywhere and it is cheap. What sugar does is seep into your bloodstream and stimulates the pleasure center of your brain. The sugar rush is a real thing and it is intense. It happens quickly and doesn’t ever last as long as you would like. The worst part is that right when that great sugar rush wears off it leaves you wanting more. And more. And more.
The negative effects of sugar are through the roof. The more obvious negatives of too much sugar are weight gain, lack of energy later on, and cavities. There are short term effects of sugar such as spiked insulin and plaque buildup on teeth as well as long term effects such as diabetes and clogged arteries. Too much sugar in our diets can be responsible for belly fat, acne, and major sugar crashes as well.
Sugar is often hidden in foods that you would not consider to be a sweet treat such as condiments and sauces. Ketchup, coffee creamer, pasta sauce, and mayo all contain high levels of sugar that often go unnoticed. That green smoothie you bought is brimming with sugar, and it might seem like it is good for you because the bottle has words like “organic” or “natural” on it. But the truth is, sugar is sugar.
When it comes to sugar, fruit is controversial. Fruit contains fiber, water, and important nutrients that make it a healthy snack but also contains a high amount of sugar. The elements found in refined sugar which is in things like ice cream or granola bars is made up of different molecules than the sugar found in fruit. While the sugars are not much different, the fiber in fruit slows down digestion and prevents sugars from being broken down as rapidly and stored as fat. When fruit is juiced, that fiber is lost and the sugar becomes dangerous again. As far as juices and smoothies go, smoothies contain more fiber and are a safer option when it comes to sugar.
Alcohol consumption is another sneaky way that sugar finds its way into diets. Mixed drinks, margaritas, ciders, and sweet wines have a great deal of sugar in them that make them so desirable. The trouble is that alcohol already contains a great deal of sugar itself. So adding in a sweet mixture to make it taste better and go down smoother usually doubles, if not triples the sugar intake of each beverage. So if you do choose to drink alcohol, avoid the sugary options and choose something mixed with club soda, tonic water, or a beer.
It has been proven time and time again that we are consuming far too much sugar daily. Of course, we do need sugar in our bodies in order to create energy to survive, but it is important that we monitor that level so that we do not intake enough to damage our health. According to the American Heart Association, the maximum amount of added sugar that men should be consuming is about 37.5 grams (9 teaspoons) and women should be consuming about 25 grams (6 teaspoons daily). The Dietary Guidelines for Americans state that people should be consuming less than 10 percent of calories per day from added sugars.
These numbers get complicated and it is not easy to constantly measure out every bite of food you take. The best thing you can do for your body is make a conscious effort to reduce sugar intake when you can, choose fruit over sweets as much as possible, and to keep everything in moderation.
So what are some ways you can cut down on sugar?
- Ditch the extravagant coffee drinks
- Manage portions of condiments and sauces
- Check labels
- Avoid processed foods
- Cut down on alcohol consumption
- Choose fruit for dessert
Unfortunately, sugar is everywhere and sugar is delicious. There is nothing wrong with occasionally indulging in a treat. Just try to keep in mind that sugar should not be a habit and your body will thank you.