Addiction series: sugar

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Addiction series: sugar

Mikayla Hartley, Staff Writer

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The Holiday season is just around the corner, which means the daily intake of sugar for the average American has greatly increased. Candy is being stocked in and around every isle of local shopping centers, enticing buyers to give in. Even on the off holiday season, Winco sets donuts around strategically around its store to give the sugary baked goods a second, third, and even fourth chance to buy and consume. There’s more to the addiction to sugar than simply “it tastes good”. The human body is made to love this ingredient.

Reasons as to why the body will crave the taste of sugar are due to the mental and physical state that one is in. According to Melissa Reagan, a Certified Nutrition Consultant, leading factors as to why people turn to unhealthy binge eating can be due to stress, depression, anxiety, low blood sugar, and even sleep deprivation.

When consuming sugar, the body sends a signal to the brain, triggering an abundance of dopamines to be set off, spreading itself in all directions of the brain. As the intake of sugar increases and becomes more persistent, the body soon becomes addicted. While the brain has a party, the gut gets to do the dirty work. Not only are there receptors in the brain that tells the body whether to take another bite of cake, but there are also receptors in the stomach. These tell the body how much insulin needs to be produced. Dr. Frank Hu, a nutrition professor from Harvard says that The liver metabolizes sugar the same way it does for alcohol, in that it converts it into fat.

While it’s healthy to get a supple amount of sugar from fruits, processed food contains so much sugar that it can be hard for the body to take it all in. Nicole Avena, a neuroscientist from TED-Ed, explains in one of her videos that common ingredients found in most processed foods such as starch, glucose, maltose, sucrose, lactose, and dextrose are all forms of processed sugar.

These types of sugar hideaway in chip bags and even tomato sauce. The reason why so many of these sugars are in processed food is that it’s delicious. The added sugar makes the food seem less bland, triggering the brain and telling it that it should eat more of it. This is why it’s so difficult for people to go on diets that have reduced processed sugar. The food doesn’t taste as appetizing and the reward system is gone.

According to Harvard Health, the average male will consume 24 teaspoons of added sugar every day. This much sugar equals up to 384 calories. The American Heart Association recommends that the most sugar that one should intake 9 teaspoons, equaling up to 150 calories worth.

It’s hard to avoid the sweet taste of sugar. The current world is stuffed with processed food pumped full of it in unhealthy amounts. While it is difficult to do so, it’s good to start lowering the addiction in small ways. Local honey is a healthy and natural occurring sweetener, helping boost immune systems from allergies and pollen. It’s not bad for someone to treat themselves every once in a while, but they should do so with caution. Sugar should not be a primary source of one’s diet. Spot the box and read what is about to be eaten. As Halloween approaches, have fun and be safe, but pace yourself on the candy and soda. It could save your life!