America’s Global “Coke” Habit

One of the most powerful drugs in our culture. It is sending many to the hospitals and killing thousands. Hardcore addicts never realize how addicted they are until it is generally too late. Children are exposed to the problem at an earlier and earlier age. Although the problem has no true origin, it is know to have existed in very ancient times. Supposedly, the sweet problem did not make it to the New World in August of 1492 when Christopher Columbus visited  the Canary Islands and was given sugar cane. Sugar became a staple product as the years went by and became in full demand by the mid-17th century.

The Food and Agricultural Organization predicts that the average person, on a global scale, will increase sugar consumption to 25.1 kilograms (55 lb) per person per year by 2015. The consumption of simple and complex carbohydrates are common among endurance athletes, and the way the human body processes sugar for energy is incredible; although, there is a downside of sugar that has caused and is causing horrendous problems. The human body is designed to survive. It does that by storing energy just in case nutrition isn’t available. According to the U.S. Library of Medicine, The obesity epidemic and growing intake of refined carbohydrates have created a “perfect storm” for the development of cardiometabolic disorders. For this reason, reduction of refined carbohydrate intake should be a top public health priority. Major diseases have been linked to simple sugar consumption to include, but certainly not limited to, the following: diabetes, cardiovascular issues, Alzheimer’s problems, macular degeneration, hypertension, and obvious dental decay.

This is not meant to target sugar and totally eliminate it from consumption. This is not “just another food we can’t eat.” Sugar consumption left the normal range years and years ago. Just in the area of soft drink consumption, the US Department of Agriculture  reported that per capita consumption has increased by almost 500% in the past 50 years. The signs of an addictive nature are all over it, and has proven to be so. According to an article in Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Review by Nicole Avena et al., sugar was studied in the same addictive model as other drug usage, looking at “bingeing, withdrawal, craving, and cross-sensitization” by giving each catagory “operational definitions and demonstrated behaviorally with sugar bingeing as the reinforcer.” The article continues with heavily researched data, proving the direct connection with sugar and the feel good neurotransmitter Dopamine. It becomes a strong reinforcer, the same as a heroine user. Nonetheless, the extensive series of experiments revealing similarities between sugar-induced and drug-induced behavior and neurochemistry lends credence to the concept of “sugar addiction,” gives precision to its definition, and provides a testable model. The article finalizes the study by stating that the “rise in obesity, coupled with the emergence of scientific findings of parallels between drugs of abuse and palatable foods has given credibility to the study.”

When trying to curb the intake, sugar withdrawal can be a serious problem. Energy dumps and headaches are just a few of the physical symptoms, not to include the mental issues associated with elimination of sweeteners in general. Eliminating unnecessary sugar consumption (candy, cakes, ingredients with added sugar, soft drinks, etc.) should be tapered off, but it can be done in a short amount of time. Understand that the body will panic and want its storage units re-filled, causing strong cravings that must be met head on with discipline. The recommended dietary allowance for carbohydrates (130 grams daily) includes all of the sugars and starches. Keep up with the amount of grams consumed during a single day. The number increases rather quickly from breakfast throughout the day. The rewards are monumental. It is never to late to the kick the habit. There are seven days in a week, and someday isn’t one of them.


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