How Dangerous Is Sugar?
Sugar is something we all enjoy, but there is a good chance you're enjoying it too much.
Growing up, you probably were treated to something containing sugar as a reward or a treat. My mom was health-conscious, and didn't really allow many sugar-packed foods in the house. But, every now and then, there would be that glorious day when she would get me a donut. It would always be incredible, and never be enough. There is a tangible joy when we first indulge in something containing sugar. It's why we view it the way we do. After that initial burst of happiness, however, things can get pretty ugly and severe. Let's take a look at what sugar can do to us.
How does sugar affect our brain?
As I mentioned just before, when we first indulge in something containing a lot of sugar, we get happy. It feels like a celebration in our brain! There is an easy and simple reason for this. When sugar first gets into our blood, our brains release dopamine. Ahh yes, the pleasure chemical. Not only does your brain release it, it releases a lot. Thus, our connection to sugar is a positive one for the most part. We have that first scoop of ice cream, and BAM—we are in heaven. Unfortunately, the feeling doesn't stick around.
How does sugar affect our body?
After the sugar celebration party ends rather quickly in your brain, your body has to deal with it. Now, if you only take one bite of that brownie or cupcake and walk away, you would be just fine. But, that would also make you a sociopath. No, when we indulge in a sugary treat, 99 percent of the time, we are consuming more sugar than our body wants to handle. Sugar contains a lot of calories and very little nutritional value, and your cells suck up the sugar right away, very quickly. They want MORE. What happens when there is no more? We experience that "crashing" feeling, and our body is not happy with how you are treating it. Those calories you took in are not going to be used, and thus, they play a top role in gaining weight.
Can you get addicted?
I feel it is very easy to say, yes—you can absolutely get addicted to sugar. I challenge anyone reading this to give up sugar for several days, and see how you deal with it. The main problem is that sugar is hidden in tons of foods/beverages—even things promoting themselves as healthy! Condiments, fruit juices, protein bars, and shakes: all of these things can contain a lot more sugar than you would guess, if you were not careful. So, what can you do about it? Welcome yourself into the world of label reading!
Every product you buy outside of fresh produce has food labels on it. Make it a new habit to read them, all the time. For the past year, I have been doing this, and there is rarely a trip to the grocery store when I leave without being surprised by something. Fortunately, many foods you enjoy that contain a lot of sugar also have a variant with low sugar. Some of them are surprisingly good!
I'm not writing this to tell you to quit sugar for good. It's an unrealistic expectation. I am writing this to bring awareness to people, that they can probably significantly cut down the amount of sugar they ingest daily, and they will feel a lot better mentally and physically once they do. Start your label reading! Go!