sugar“Hey sugar, Merry Christmas.  Want a candy cane?”

“Please don’t call me sugar.   It is demeaning!”

“Demeaning?   What’s wrong with sugar?  You are sweet.  Sugar is sweet.   There’s nothing demeaning about that.”

“Are you kidding?   Refined sugar is a killer.   It’s THE most dangerous white powder sold in America.   The average American consumes about 142 pounds of sugar each year, the equivalent of 48 teaspoons a day.   That’s obscene.  And sugar is addictive.   It is largely the reason for the high incidence of diabetes and obesity.   It is the scourge of Western Civilization.  And YOU want to call me sugar?   Thank you, but no.”

“Oh come on, aren’t you getting a bit hysterical about sugar.   In moderation, it is no worse than any other food we eat.   Of course excess is bad, but it’d be bad if we were drinking water to excess……we’d be leaching our bodies of useful minerals and ultimately drowning ourselves.”

“Moderation, schmoderation.   Sugar is worse than cocaine….because it is so inexpensive and it is hidden in so much of what we eat.  So much of our sugar comes from processed foods, including foods that we think are healthy.  For example, eight ounces of one brand of sweetened apple yogurt contains 44 grams of sugar, according to the nutrition facts label. Four grams equals one teaspoon, so that’s 11 teaspoons of sugar.  And think about how much comes from soft drinks — there are about 10 teaspoons of sugar in 12 ounces of nondiet soda.   And they hide it so well.    You can look on the list ingredients and you will see that the innocuous-sounding names, such as high-fructose corn syrup, barley malt, galactose and agave nectar. Other forms of sugar include honey, maple syrup, corn sweetener, dextrine, rice syrup, glucose, sucrose and dextrose.  They are all sugar and they addict people.   It is killing millions of people annually.   And this is what you call me as a term of endearment?”

“Oh come on.  You are killing the holiday spirit?  Sugar has been around for centuries.  It doesn’t kill people.”

“No, actually, refined sugar hasn’t been around so long.   It was an expensive spice available only to royalty until around the turn of the 20th century. And over the last century people have become addicted to it because sugar, like drugs and alcohol, is addictive because it briefly elevates levels of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that produces positive feelings. When a sugar addict doesn’t eat sugar, serotonin declines to low levels. This makes you feel worse than before. ”

“OK, so perhaps it contributes to heart disease. But so does a Reuben sandwich, and that doesn’t have any sugar.”

“If it were JUST heart disease, I might agree with you.  But refined sugar is nasty on a whole bunch of levels. It suppresses your immune system and impairs your defenses against infectious disease.  It causes chromium and copper deficiencies and interferes with absorption of calcium and magnesium.  It has caused a rapid rise of adrenaline, hyperactivity, anxiety, difficulty concentrating, and crankiness in children.  It feeds cancer cells and has been connected with the development of cancer of the breast, ovaries, prostate, rectum, pancreas, biliary tract, lung, gallbladder and stomach.  And sugar has been linked to many problems with the gastrointestinal tract including: an acidic digestive tract, indigestion, malabsorption in patients with functional bowel disease, increased risk of Crohn’s disease, and ulcerative colitis.  I can go on if you’d like.  There’s more.”

“Well, if it were that dangerous why doesn’t the government ban it?”

“It should!  People who eat too much sugar experience disruptions in insulin and other hormones. They have an elevated risk for osteoporosis due to calcium depletion.   Just recently, the Journal of the American Medical Assn. determined that sugar elevates levels of cholesterol and triglycerides (blood fats), which increase the risk for heart disease.  And nonalcoholic fatty liver disease caused by increased carbohydrate intake is directly related to the increased sugar consumption in the Western world.   It also contributes to premature aging due to high glycemic intake.  But the sugar lobby is so strong that government authorities don’t have the will or resources to take it on. ”

“Well, if I can’t call you ‘sugar’, how about ‘sweetness’?”

“Exactly what kind of sweetness? ”

“I don’t know.   How about Splenda?   You are splendid.”

“Ugh, that’s worse than sugar, possibly.  The only sugar substitutes that you even want to TOUCH are xylitol, stevia and cinnamon.  Stevia, in particular, is an herb that’s been consumed in Latin America for almost 1500 years; it has no calories and doesn’t impact blood sugar levels.  Plus, it is an excellent substitute for refined sugar.”

“Honey?”

“Nutritionally, it is about the same as sugar, just comes from bees.   Although it is a very good antidote to cuts and burns, if you put it on your skin.”

“Hmmmm.  OK, how about if I call you Stevia.”

“Hmmmm   Sounds like you are calling me Steve.   I’m not sure I want your term of endearment to be a man’s name.   Just a touch creepy.”

“Well, I give up.  What do you want me to call you?”

“How about ‘diamond girl’.   I could learn to like that.”

“Diamond girl?  Do you have diamonds?”

“With all of that money you save by not buying or eating sugar, you can afford to spend on buying me a diamond.”

“How about an opal, instead?  Diamonds are overrated.”

“You are so sweet!”

 

SCARY SUGAR FACTS

  • A recent study showed that sugar, perhaps more than salt, contributes to the development of cardiovascular disease. Evidence is growing, too, that eating too much sugar can lead to fatty liver disease, hypertension, Type 2 diabetes, obesity and kidney disease.
  • Sugar is addictive. And we don’t mean addictive in that way that people talk about delicious foods. We mean addictive, literally, in the same way as drugs.  One study has shown that if given the choice, rats will choose sugar over cocaine in lab settings because the reward is greater; the “high” is more pleasurable. Sugar stimulates brain pathways just as an opioid would, and sugar has been found to be habit-forming in people. Cravings induced by sugar are comparable to those induced by addictive drugs like cocaine and nicotine.
  • Sugar is found in approximately 75 percent of packaged foods purchased in the United States. The average American consumes anywhere from a quarter to a half pound of sugar a day.
  • A study, conducted in yeast cells, was published  in Nature, and showed evidence for “a positive correlation between sugar and cancer, which may have far-reaching impacts on tailor-made diets for cancer patients.  The study indicates that sugar consumption may increase the “multiplication” of cancer cells. This does not mean that sugar causes cancer; to the contrary, merely that cancer, once it exists in the body, is affected differently by sugar consumption.
  • Sugar may be uniquely addictive in the food world. For instance, functional M.R.I. tests involving milkshakes demonstrate that it’s the sugar, not the fat, that people crave. Sugar is added to foods by an industry whose goal is to engineer products to be as irresistible and addictive as possible.
  • If you don’t believe us, ask John Oliver (as well as Jamie Oliver).