Are you a sugar addict? If the answer is yes, you are not alone.
American adults consume about 15 percent of our calories from sugars that are added to foods during processing—or 140 to 150 pounds of sugar per person each year! A mind blowing 37 percent of added sugars are consumed in sugar-sweetened beverages, while another 18 percent of our calories come from white flour (which acts a lot like sugar in our bodies)! It’s not surprising that we have become a nation of sugar addicts. Like many other addictive substances, sugar may leave you feeling a bit better for a few hours, but then it wreaks havoc on your body and can cause long-term health problems.
The good news? There is a solution that works. In this book, we will teach you about the four main types of sugar addicts. In each type, there are different forces driving the addiction, and in all four types, the excess sugar leaves people feeling much worse overall. By treating the underlying causes that are active in your type of addiction, you will find that not only do your sugar cravings go away, but you also feel dramatically better overall.
Here’s more good news. Once you have broken your sugar addiction, your body will usually be able to handle sugar in moderation. This means saving sugar for dessert or snacks where it belongs and going for quality, not quantity. Dark chocolate is especially okay.
We will also discuss how to “have your cake and eat it too”––how to use natural sugar substitutes to get the pleasure without paying the cost. It is not our goal to eliminate things you love. Our goal instead is to teach you how to get the most pleasure you can, in a way that is healthy for your body and leaves you feeling better. In medicine, we have a simple rule: Never take away something pleasurable from a person’s diet without substituting something equally pleasurable. Otherwise, it just doesn’t work!
Why Is Sugar Addictive?
For thousands of years, humans ate sugar found naturally in their food. Sugar was not a problem; it was a treat. But now more than one-third of the calories we consume come from sugar and white flour added during food processing. Our bodies simply were not designed to handle this massive load.
Many of you have already noticed that although sugar gives you an initial high, you crash several hours later, and this leaves you wanting more sugar. In fact, sugar acts as an energy loan shark, taking away more energy than it gives. Eventually, your “credit line” runs out and you find yourself exhausted, anxious, and moody.
The Long-term Consequences of Sugar Addiction
In addition to the immediate fatigue and emotional problems, the research shows that sugar also causes many long-term health problems. For example, according to a study published in the medical journal Diabetologia (2012), drinking just one 12-ounce (355 ml) sugar-sweetened soft drink a day can increase the risk of type 2 diabetes by 22 percent. While a study published in the medical journal JAMA Internal Medicine (2014) showed that just one can of soda a day ups heart attack risk by 30 percent. That’s pretty scary stuff.
How Sugar Causes Inflammation and Chronic Disease
Too much sugar, white flour, and other refined carbohydrates in our diet—about 20 percent of our total calories—increase inflammation in the body. Inflammation can be acute, from an infection or after a cut or other injury, or chronic and can cause heart disease, stroke, and cancer.
Your immune system’s job is to protect you from outside invaders. Antibodies are a type of protein that detects invaders and sees them as “other” so that immune cells, like white blood cells and natural killer cells, can recognize and kill them. When this happens, inflammation results, which can be a good thing, a protective response by the body that helps you heal.
However, if inflammation lasts too long and becomes chronic, it can actually damage the tissues of your body. In your arteries, for example, your immune system responds to cholesterol as a foreign invader. White blood cells inflame the arterial lining and form plaque. When it becomes chronic, this inflammation is the key factor behind the plaque buildup that causes heart disease and stroke —the #1 and #3 killers of Americans.
Chronic Medical Problems Associated with Sugar in Our Diet:
- Chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia
- Pain of many kinds
- Decreased immune function
- Chronic sinusitis
- Irritable bowel syndrome and spastic colon
- Autoimmune disease
- Metabolic syndrome with high cholesterol and hypertension
- Heart disease
- Hormonal problems
- Candida and yeast infections
This is the short list. The actual list could go on for pages! Sugar is also a mood-altering substance, causing stress, anxiety, and depression, which is no surprise to anyone with a sweet tooth. For all these reasons, it’s likely that if sugar growers tried to win FDA approval today, they’d have a tough time getting permission to sell their product.
But the fact is, sugar is everywhere in our diet, and it is dumped into what we eat and drink during food processing. With one-third of our calories coming from sugar and white flour, and the stress of modern life increasing, we are seeing the makings of the “perfect storm” of medical problems. Eating sugar causes blood sugar to surge, insulin to spike, and fat to get deposited throughout your body. Obesity, often accompanied by diabetes and heart disease, is just one more consequence of our high-sugar diet.
|Jacob Teitelbaum, MD, is a board certified internist and nationally known expert in the fields of chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, sleep and pain. Dr. Teitelbaum does frequent media appearances including Good Morning America, CNN, Fox News Channel, the Dr. Oz Show and Oprah & Friends. He lives in Kona, Hawaii. He has published several books including his latest book The Complete Guide to Beating Sugar Addiction.