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Seventy-five pounds of sugar- that’s what the average American eats in one year. That’s the average weight of some children! In a lifetime, the average person will consume 3,550 pounds of sugar, and it’s not due to lack of willpower. It’s a true addiction that’s incredibly hard to break because it’s as addictive to our brains as cocaine. John Oliver also agrees our country has a serious sugar problem. Check out that he has to say on the not-so-sweet issue:
As you can see, it’s easy to avoid candy bars and even sodas now, thanks to the research on these products and their unhealthful nature. However, what about the small stuff, the places that sugar lurks – tomato sauce, spaghetti sauce, chips, natural energy bars, cookies, granola bars, yogurts (both vegan and non-vegan), sweetened non-dairy milks, cereals (even those that are organic), gluten-free items? Sadly, because so many companies invested in the sugar business own smaller companies with organic and natural labels, products are changing to trick consumers into thinking they are healthy, when they’re really just cleverly disguised forms of sugar – what a nice costume they wear though, right? And guess what? Most of those companies opposed and spent quite the bit of money to fight non-GMO labeling, which tells you that they’re not just interested in using sugar in their products, but also using genetically modified forms of soy as well.
In short, yes. Did you know that sugar is the most addicting substance in the American diet and the one food that’s been linked to diabetes, multiple brain disorders, mood problems, obesity, leads to Alzheimer’s, and even common issues like depression. Sugar doesn’t just cause weight gain- it also diminishes our health in every single way.
The World Health Organization (WHO) also says we have a major sugar problem, and it’s not getting any better. Why is sugar so highly addictive? Sugar- like casein- attaches to opiate receptors in the brain that send a huge sense of euphoria throughout our bodies. It spikes our blood sugar which gives us a high that only lasts a certain number of minutes or hours, which leaves us wanting more and more to get that same euphoric-like feeling.
What the Food Industry Doesn’t Want You to Know
The media has gone to extremes the last decade to protect the sugar industry, largely because it puts money in the pockets of almost everyone in the food industry. Our entire culture is based off of products that contain sugar or profit from the sugar business. With the ridiculous commercials that promote high fructose corn syrup as natural, to the artificial sweeteners that promote their products to be the better answer, our culture has become more confused than ever on the sugary business.
The recent documentary Fed-Up, narrated by Katie Couric herself, also shows that we have a serious sugar problem in the United States and our food industry has duped us into a state of disease, depression, diabetes, and addiction as a result.
It’s Not Just the White Stuff: Added and Natural Sugars Count Too
Added sugars are still sugar to the human body. Your blood sugar, liver, pancreas, and brain don’t care if it’s from agave or brown rice syrup, or if it’s from straight white sugar. Harvard Health even says that added sugars contribute to death directly! The food industry, however, will do everything to convince you otherwise. From trendy labels, to creative commercials, our media and food industry defends sugar in every single way.
Though the FDA has decided to proposed a nutrition label with an added sugars label and has even considered listing sugar content in the amount of teaspoons they contain instead of just grams, which most people ignore. For the record, it takes 4 teaspoons to equal 1 gram of sugar. The average American consumes 22 teaspoons of sugar every single day, and the average child eats 32! Whether from natural added sugar or refined sugar, that’s a major problem.
How to Avoid Sugar:
Sugar is found in everything. From the small sprinkle of brown sugar in oatmeal to the astronomical amounts in coffee house drinks, to even cans of plain old tomato soup- sugar is hard to avoid. It has over 304 different names and will likely continue to get more as food manufacturers become more creative.
To avoid sugar, eat whole foods– plain and simple. Avoid foods with added sugars by making your own foods or buy products that contain no added sugars. Learn to enjoy sugar-free alternatives instead such as fresh whole fruit or stevia. And when it comes to eating out at restaurants, avoid most sauces and salad dressings, which are a usual source of added sugars. Ask for oil and vinegar instead or make your own quick salad dressing to keep on hand at home. Drink water, smoothies, juices, herbal tea and healthy forms of delicious coffee instead of sodas, fruit juice, and energy drinks.
Because the not-so-sweet truth is that sugar is killing us, one bite at a time.
Image Source: Vox EFX /Flickr