Here’s a riddle for you: What is the one substance we consume every day without thinking twice, that is making us sicker, yet we still crave it?
The answer: sugar. We’re addicted to sugar, and most of us don’t even realize it.
An average American consumes anywhere from 22 to 32 teaspoons of sugar each day, according to Forbes. The World Health Organization recommends eating no more than 6 teaspoons of sugar a day.
Our overwhelmingly high consumption of sugar has been linked to a variety of health problems, including obesity, hypertension, heart disease, diabetes, irritable bowel syndrome, attention and memory problems, hyperactivity, anxiety and depression, migraines, poor eyesight, autoimmune diseases, gout, and even osteoporosis. Yet we can’t seem to get enough of the sweet stuff.
If you measure sugar on criteria doctors use to diagnose drug dependence (called the DSM-IV criteria), the way we consume sugar resembles that of an addict consuming an addictive substance.
Medical professionals consider meeting three of the following seven criteria evidence of dependence. Lets take a look at how we fare with sugar:
Over time, your brain starts to see sugar as a reward. It wants more and more of that reward, creating cravings.
This is where cravings come in. According to Business Insider, our ancient ancestors evolved to crave sugar because their body needed to store energy during times of scarcity — we’ve only reinforced the craving by eating so much sugar.
Yes. It’s a no-brainer that excessive consumption of sugar leads to a laundry list of health problems including weight gain, obesity, diabetes. It even leads to a greater risk of heart disease, according to Harvard University.
Though this is hard to quantify, most of us can say at one point or another we’ve indulged in a little too much sugar.
Again, plenty of us have struggled with dieting, artificial sweeteners or other efforts to cut back on sugar.
Another difficult question to answer, but anyone who has felt sick after bingeing on sweets can answer yes.
This is probably only true in the most extreme cases.
Totaling up the answers, sugar meets at least three (possibly more, depending on your personal experience) of the criteria of an addictive substance.
Still want that brownie?
Fortunately, we can reverse this tolerance in just a few weeks by cutting out sugar. Once you have decreased your threshold, something that tasted perfectly sweet a few weeks ago will begin to taste too sweet to eat, and that can help you reduce your intake of this unhealthy substance.
Consider putting yourself on a sugar fast for three weeks to free yourself from the addiction. Here are some tips to help you cut back.
Magda Freedom Rod is a certified yoga instructor, health & lifestyle guide and founder of Visionary Lifestyle and Conscious Eating 101. She helps people activate their highest potential through conscious eating, yoga and sustainable lifestyle guidance. Visit www.Visionary-Lifestyle.com today to join her mailing list and receive recipes and healthy lifestyle tips!
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