For the Love of Sugar

Many people think sugar is delicious and traditions are passed down through generations; birthday cakes with candles, the aroma of freshly baked cookies filling the kitchen, and our favorite ice cream cone on a hot summer day.

Over the years, we have grown accustomed to consuming something sweet on a regular basis. Presently there is a worldwide obesity explosion, and sugar-sweetened soda is being blamed as one of the main culprits.  

According to the World Health Organization, " Current evidence suggests that increasing consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages is associated with overweight and obesity in children. Therefore, reducing consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages would also reduce the risk of childhood overweight and obesity."

Sugary drinks are a substantial source of sugar for children. A 12-ounce can of Coke contains almost 10 teaspoons of sugar in the form of high-fructose corn syrup!

The Dangers of Sugar on Our Health

Some people eat or drink a lot of sugar every day. This behavior produces a pleasant or positive experience and causes the brain to think of it as a "reward." As a result, they develop a powerful desire for it, called a "craving."  

When you eat sugar, it enters your bloodstream and causes your blood glucose to spike and then drop down suddenly. If your blood glucose is unstable in this way, it can cause you to have mood swings, be fatigued, have headaches, and crave more sugar. Unfortunately, this can lead to more cravings and hunger.

There is a clear link between obesity, sugar, carbohydrates, and diabetes. Diabetes is a disease in which your body either can't produce insulin or can't properly use it. Insulin is a hormone produced by your pancreas.

Insulin regulates the amount of glucose (sugar) in the blood. To ensure that the body functions correctly, the blood sugar must be carefully monitored. Damage to organs, blood vessels, and nerves can occur if there is too much sugar in your blood. Your body also needs insulin to use sugar for energy. 

Over the past 30 years, diabetes has become prevalent worldwide, in both adults and children. 

Sugar also causes tooth decay, and the number of extractions in children is sharply rising.  I watched a documentary where a 2-year-old girl had to have 6 teeth pulled out under anesthetic because of rotten teeth.  This was traced back to the introduction of sugar-sweetened soda and happened over only a 6 month period!

Foods that produce or promote the development of tooth decay are called "cariogenic" (a carie is a cavity). Some examples of cariogenic foods are:

  1. Sugary and starchy foods such as bread, crackers, and sweet foods;
  2. Sticky foods such as dried fruits, and chewy candies (toffee);
  3. Beverages such as sweetened soda, fruit juice, and other sweetened drinks.

When you eat or drink something cariogenic, an enzyme in the saliva breaks it down into sugars and is further fermented by bacteria into acid. This process can cause tooth enamel to dissolve or demineralize. The result is tooth decay.

These are just the tip of the iceberg regarding the effect sugar has on our health, and I will go into more detail about this in the following pages.

It is unrealistic to think that you need to completely eliminate sugar from your diet in order to have a healthy life. However, we all need to take a good look at the amount we are consuming and make some changes if it is too much. Educating ourselves in this way is a responsible thing to do to help ourselves, and our families live a long and healthy life.

Dangers of Sugar - Dieticians of Canada

Sugar and Healthy Eating

What you need to know about High Fructose Corn Syrup