We are all born to enjoy sweet taste. Sweet taste gives us comfort and pleasure. Our brain needs glucose more than anything else to function. The first taste for a baby is the sweet taste of a mother’s milk. How can “sweet” taste be bad for you?
What is “Sugar”?
Sugar, a simple carbohydrate, describes substances with varying degrees of sweetness. Best known is white table sugar, or sucrose. This is usually the refined sugar of the cane or beet plant. Starch, another form of carbohydrate, is a chain of glucose molecules, and is known as a complex carbohydrate.
Both sugars and starches are found in natural foods such as grains, beans, vegetables and fruit. When unprocessed, they are linked together with vitamins, minerals, enzymes, proteins and fibre. When, for example, brown rice or a whole cereal grain is cooked, ingested and digested, the natural carbohydrates break down into the separate glucose molecules. These enter the bloodstream where they are burned slowly and steadily.
A distinction needs to be made between natural sweet tasting foods that naturally contain sugar and processed foods that contain refined sugar. The two metabolise very differently in our body.
Why Refined Sugar Depletes You and Gets You Hooked?
But table sugar requires extra effort to utilise by the body because it lacks vitamins, minerals and fibre, so our body depletes its own store of minerals and enzymes to assimilate it properly. For this reason, refined sugar is described as empty calories. Instead of providing the body with nutrition, the result is a deficiency.
This is why the more refined sugar we consumed, the “hungrier” at the cellular level we are.
Have you noticed that soda water does not really quench your thirst? You want more and more of it, unlike drinking young coconut water, which actually quenches your thirst and gives you real energy. It’s because soda water is sugar water and does not contain minerals and enzymes that feed the cells. This is precisely what food manufacturers want – consumers wanting more of their products leading to repeat business.
How did sugar become “bad”?
Sugar was first being refined in the 17th century. It’s estimated that we consume about 10 times or more sugar than our ancestors 200 years ago.
Sugar qualifies as an addictive substance for two reasons:
1) Eating even a small amount creates a desire for more;
2) suddenly quitting it causes withdrawal symptoms such as headaches, mood swings, cravings and fatigue.
Sugar is really not much different from other addictive substances like heroin and cocaine, except that, like caffeine and alcohol (other stimulating and addictive substances), it’s legal.
The Many Faces of Sugar
Today we find sugar not only where we’ve come to expect it – in candies, cakes, cookies and desserts – but also in such foods as canned vegetables, baby food, bread, tomato sauce, milk, and salad dressings.
In some cases it is called corn syrup, dextrose, maltose, glucose or fructose.
Even in “health foods” like energy bars, “healthy” chocolates, rice milk and so on, one can find refined sugar.
What Can Sugar Do To You (and Your Children)?
• Weight gain
• Upsets gut flora (feeds the bad bacteria)
• Suppresses immunity
• Damages liver
• Loss of concentration
• Causes food cravings
• Anxiety and restlessness
• Creates environment for cancer
Important note to parents:
As you can see, sugar can potentially make your children ADD, depressed and dumb! And yet in this culture, we are giving the young ones so much sugar…
No one was born to prefer artificial and refined foods. But we start to form our taste while we are in the mother’s womb. If we don’t want our children to be hooked on artificial flavours, start as young as possible for them. Expose them to healthy sweet foods. (And for anyone preparing to be parents, cleaning up their diet and doing a proper detox is therefore very important. )
Read Part II of Sweet Poison and find out what are healthy alternatives, and how to kick refined sugar addiction.