Tuesday, April 03, 2012

It sweet yuh so: Is added sugar (including high fructose corn sweetener) an addictive health hazard?

We have long been told that too much sugar is bad for you, and yet we find it ever so hard to break the sugar habit. (Did you notice how unappetising plain water can seem, if we have got used to sweetened drinks, for instance?)

But at the same time, it is proverbial in our region, that something pleasant is "sweet."

That may be a clue -- and, warning -- about how sugar affects us.

Below is a news report on how research and testing or imaging show how sugar excites pleasure centres in the brain (essentially the same ones that more socially unacceptable drugs excite).  So, it may well become addictive, especially through the well known desensitising ratcheting effect where we need more and more to get the same "hit."

Also, it can evidently trigger cholesterol emplacement in blood vessels. A bad sign for heart disease.

It turns out that a significant fraction of cancers have cells that suck in blood glucose to feed growth. 

And of course we have long been concerned over links to diabetes. 

So, there is a moderation recommendation of only up to 100 - 150 Calories of added sugar per day; about one soda's equivalent. But remember, sugar is often a hidden ingredient in a LOT of foods, processed and home-cooked.

And, fruit -- where sugars are naturally found in relatively small quantities -- come with all sorts of vitamins, minerals etc, with food fibre, which slows down the absorption. Looks like the old dietary advice to keep away from white sugar has a point, but even unrefined sugar may lead to dangerous loading up. At least, the molasses has some good stuff in it.

Bottomline, balance: diet, exercise, rest, stress management. 

Even the sugar industry rep endorses that approach.

So, let's watch, and let's ponder on our "weakness for sweetness" in light of this CBS 60 Minutes feature with CNN's Dr Sanjay Gupta and Dr Robert Lustig, a UCSF Pediatric Endocrinologist:

(Didn't you notice how we so often say: "what sweet yuh so," in the Caribbean? OOPSIE . . . )

Time to think again. END