It’s no surprise a vast majority of the world recognizes sugar is destroying our health and ruining our lives.1, 2, 3, 4 Over the last 30 years, we’ve seen disease rates skyrocket, alongside our climbing intake of sugar.5, 6, 7, 8, 9 Our concern for this creeping information wavers and takes a backseat to social media, “selfies” and celebrities.10, 11
The growing concern around sugar deserves not only immediate attention, but immediate action.12, 13, 14 Unfortunately, the roadblocks are endless.15, 16 The least of which, is the food industry itself.17 Take, for example, the makers of orange juice, a product which contains a whopping 21g of sugar in a mere 8oz glass,18 and is traditionally the standard American breakfast beverage.
The addictive properties of sugar are well-documented, as are the risks of consuming too much.19, 20 And yet, we can’t seem to stop ourselves.21, 22 Sugar is often added to products surreptitiously, without our consent.23 It is also marketed – quite heavily – towards children.24, 25 We must put a stop to this. Our children are our future, and if they are obese, cognitively impaired, and sick – how much of a future do they really have?
So why sugar is so detrimental? The biochemistry says it all.20 As sugar enters the bloodstream, insulin is secreted.26 The more sugar you eat, the more insulin you secrete. High sugar diets can lead to insulin resistance.27 This condition is one of the hallmarks of obesity and overweight humans everywhere.28 If you consume too much sugar, you’re bound to experience hypoglycemia, commonly referred to as your “sugar crash.”29 This leaves your body craving more sugar – and the addictive process perpetuates.30
It’s a simple model, but one which we are all familiar with.36 Stress also leads us to overeat.31, 37 And we do not over-consume just any calories, but rather we eat neurologically-rewarding foods.38 This means foods that are either: high in sugar, or foods high in sugar and fat.39 In a study from 2010, researchers showed a disruption of sensitivity to brain-stimulation reward (BSR) from eating high fat and/or high carbohydrate food.40 So you become accustomed to the rewards of these foods, and crave them more.41
The rates of diabetes both nationally, and worldwide, have skyrocketed.42 This is not debatable. Guess what else has skyrocketed, in conjunction with diabetes rates? You guessed it: sugar consumption. There are now obese newborns.43, 44
All of these problems and conditions can be linked directly to sugar intake, and yet, you may be blindsided by how much sugar you’re consuming in the first place. A recent study showed food manufacturers not disclosing the actual values of fructose corn syrup on their product labels.45 Does this bother you? It should.
Besides the physiologic effects of too much sugar, there are vast and damning economic effects.32 Take, for example, that diabetes alone costs the United States $245 billion per year.46 This is a rise of 41% in a mere five years. That is an absolutely terrifying figure. Have I scared you yet?
How about the fact that higher glucose levels are associated with lower memory and reduced hippocampal microstructure?47 Or, how about the study from the New England Journal of Medicine, which showed that higher glucose levels may be a risk factor for dementia.48 What was interesting (and alarming) about this finding, was that this was the risk for those without diabetes. This means that you can be taking in “normal” amounts of sugar, not exhibit symptoms of diabetes, and still be risking dementia. Act and don’t turn a blind eye. Save your health.
Other studies have shown, unsurprisingly, that sugar consumption promotes weight gain in children and adults.33 All behaviors have a biochemical basis. ADHD, ADD, et al, are all likely partially due to a poor diet.49, 50 A diet that, almost always, is high in sugar.51, 52 Since studies have shown that intense sweetness surpasses cocaine reward, it is not surprising that many Americans cannot stop consuming sugar.53 But, in order to help stop alarmingly rising healthcare costs, they must stop their gluttonous consumption, and re-focus their diet on whole, real foods, all part of a Paleo Diet.
Other studies have shown that most US adults consume more added sugar than is recommended,34 and that this overconsumption leads to increased risk for cardiovascular disease mortality.54 This is literally the smoking gun that shows that sugar is killing us. Other studies have shown that higher levels of sugar also lower fitness.55 And another interesting study showed that junk food alone made rats lazy.56 Does this give you food for thought? Perhaps you should prioritize a change to your diet?
Insulin, which is secreted in order to deal with sugar in the bloodstream, blocks leptin signaling.35 Leptin is the “satiety” hormone, which helps to tell our hypothalamus to stop eating.57 Since we are now secreting 2-3 times the amount of insulin than we used to, you can see, directly, how this has resulted in disastrous consequences for our world’s health.58 And why are we secreting more insulin? Quite simply, to deal with all the sugar we are over-consuming. It is not a complicated formula, but it is a formula that is bankrupting our nation, and making so many sick and overweight.
Prevention is paradigm. Avoid a high-sugar diet, become leaner, think faster, and feel better. There is not a single better thing you can do, diet-related, that will help you to improve your health. A Paleo Diet, which is intrinsically low in sugar, high in nutrient-dense foods, and filled with micronutrients, is the best path to wellness.
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