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Let’s Talk Sugar

Photo+by+Amy+Kong.
Photo by Amy Kong.

Photo by Amy Kong.

Photo by Amy Kong.

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Sugar. We’re all far too familiar with that word because it is so common. We’re all guilty of ingesting large quantities of it – especially throughout the holiday season – and the addicting taste of it brings us back time and time again for more. Except, excessive sugar isn’t good for us. Everyone knows this fact to some degree, yet we tend to ignore and overlook this fact because it is easier than acknowledging the extent of just how bad excessive amounts of sugar is. Sugar is in almost everything these days – from your morning Starbucks to your occasional pizza slice to all the small little treats in between. After repeated consumption of sugar, our brains begin to depend on the temporary pleasure sugar brings, and it makes us addicted.

Although overlooked, sugar addiction is as real a problem as drug addiction. The average American consumes about 22 teaspoons of sugar a day, which is three times the amount that we are statistically reported to need, according to the American Diabetes Association. To put it in a more alarming context, this means that the average American consumes approximately 75 pounds of sugar a year. The concept behind sugar is that it is literally a drug. Similar to cocaine and a collection of other plant based drugs, sugar has the potential to manipulate our brains and release a hormone named dopamine, which makes humans crave more of the stimuli. To recap, it is human psychology to seek out sources of happiness, even if they may be superficial. As such, sugar is just as capable and as deadly as drugs in terms of addiction. Both trigger a temporary positive sensation within us, but in the long term, will probably lead to detrimental consequences.

Since there are clear differences, in an exploration of contrast between sugar and other widespread drugs, it is factually accurate to state that sugar has a lower capacity to cause explosions of dopamine that may overload the human limbic system (which is also known to harbor the “reward system”). Even so, a lower possibility of addiction does not mean it doesn’t exist.

In the long term, sugar can cause bone deterioration. Think about how many cavities you may have had growing up. Was the sugar rush worth it? In the Western world, if we are inactive and have a consumption based diet that circles around a lot of unnecessary added sugar and artificial flavoring, the high contents of fructose can also be harmful to the liver. Excess amounts of fructose in the liver get converted into fat, which over time can accumulate in the liver and cause non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. Of course, the biggest negative consequence of sugar that is more widely known would be its contribution towards obesity and diabetes. Its manipulation on insulin production is risky, and newer studies from the Efamol Research Institute in Canada (amongst other sources) have even associated sugar to a cancer-causing substance.

Sugar addiction is a very real problem that is significantly overlooked. Many of us tend not to truly understand the scope of the problem until it is too late. In a modernized world, sugar is not going to be regulated. Businesses will not tell you the negative impacts of sugar. Advertisements and posters will only show what you want to see, but it is up to you to start saying no. It is nearly impossible to stray away from such a tempting stimulus all the time, but a little more awareness and self-control can never hurt anybody.

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Let’s Talk Sugar