With Halloween only a week away, people decorate their homes and yards with ghosts, ghouls, skeletons, witches, zombies and ax murderers. What they really should fear is the refined sugar monster.
No, Not the Kale Chips!
Now, I’m not suggesting that we replace Halloween treats, whether in children’s bags or the office candy dish, with granola bars, kale chips and dried chickpeas. I want to make a broader point about what sugar is doing to us individually and as a country.
For years I’ve wondered at the sweetening of the American diet. Mustard becomes honey mustard. Pretzels beget honey wheat pretzels. Plain Cheerios morph into Honey Nut Cheerios. And on and on. Why, I wondered, do the food manufacturers push sugar so that consumers begin first expecting and then demanding it in almost everything?
The answer is simple, at least in part. Eating sugar makes you hungry so that you then eat more food. Worse, you crave more sugar and the simple carbohydrates that convert quickly to sugar. Think of oil companies putting an additive in gasoline that makes your car burn the gas faster and get poorer mileage so you have to tank up more often.
A Partial List of Sugar’s Bad Effects
Only sugar has a much worse impact on the human body. The list of bad things that sugar does to your body seems to increase every month. In about five minutes I found this list of 20 ways that sugar is bad for you. Sugar:
- Makes your internal organs fat
- Gives you cavities in your teeth
- Makes you hungry, creating a craving for more sugar
- Makes you fat, then obese
- Overloads and damages your liver
- Sets up your body for diabetes and leads to Type 3 diabetes
- Is bad for your heart
- Creates an environment conducive to cancer
- Leads to high blood pressure
- Spikes bad cholesterol and triglycerides
- Creates an addiction that demands more and more sugar
- Sets up a sugar crash that releases serotonin and makes you tired
- Makes you depressed by restraining dopamine production
- Leads to wrinkles and saggy skin on your face
- Opens your skin to sun damage
- Causes metabolic dysfunction
- Increases uric acid levels
- Interferes with immune function
- Accelerates the aging process
- Affects behavior and cognition in children
Wow, what a list! If the Mexican Drug Cartel was selling a drug with all those bad effects, the U.S. government would have banned it decades ago.
The American Sugar Cartel
Influenced by the American Sugar Cartel, however, the U.S. government has done the opposite: It subsidizes the sugar industry with our tax dollars. So we pay sugar farmers to keep sugar prices high and then we pay higher prices for products filled with sugar that make us sick so we have to pay for medical care and drugs. Now that’s a vicious circle.
But they don’t want the American public to know about it so they work in secret. Just recently we learned that the American Sugar Cartel secretly paid Harvard for research on coronary heart disease that pointed the finger at cholesterol instead of on the real culprit – sugar. Back in 1966 the ASC influenced a study on cavities so it wouldn’t implicate sugar. For 50 years the ASC distorted dietary guidelines to make fat the culprit in heart disease. That led to the production of fat-free products that depended for flavor on, you guessed it, added sugar.
In that meantime, Americans have enthusiastically consumed more and more sugar in everything they ate, drank, and chewed, even the foods they had been told were good for them. Sometimes especially in foods they were supposed to be good for them. Instead of snorting or mainlining sugar, they were drinking it in soft drinks, chewing it in candy and consuming it in food three times a day. The American people got fatter and they died in increasing numbers without realizing that one of the drugs killing them was legal, pervasive, highly addictive and pretty darn tasty.
Breaking the Sugar Addiction
As with any addiction, the key is to stop taking the drug. Like any drug, however, going cold turkey creates withdrawal symptoms that can be so unpleasant they drive people to start taking the drug all over again. These withdrawal effects look familiar:
- Muscle aches
- The sweats/chills
Combating Sugar Withdrawal
To keep them from getting the better of you, Karen Reed in Positive HealthWellness offers us tips on “How to Combat the Symptoms of Sugar Withdrawal.” You may not need a sober companion to get past sugar withdrawal but Ms. Reed’s list of suggestions will certainly help.
First, though, get all the obvious offenders out of your house: soda—diet or otherwise, candy, cookies, cake, pie, etc. Then start reading labels when you buy any form of processed or packaged food because sugar hides in a lot of them.
Most important of all: If you have cancer, are being treated for cancer or are in remission, REMOVE ALL SUGAR FROM YOUR DIET. Cancer and sugar are BFFs so the more sugar you consume the faster the cancer will grow. The best diet for a cancer patient is vegetarian with fish.
One night of treats on Halloween won’t kill you. But eating like that for the rest of the year just might. Make a plan now, before the candy rush, and stick to it.