Sugar Season. It’s Everywhere, and Addictive by James DiNicolantonio & Sean Lucan:
- Sugar is everywhere. It is celebration, it is festivity, it is love.
- It’s also dangerous. In a recent study, we showed that sugar, perhaps more than salt, contributes to the development of cardiovascular disease. Evidence is growing, too, that eating too much sugar can lead to fatty liver disease, hypertension, Type 2 diabetes, obesity and kidney disease.
- Yet people can’t resist. And the reason for that is pretty simple. Sugar is addictive. And we don’t mean addictive in that way that people talk about delicious foods. We mean addictive, literally, in the same way as drugs.
- Up until just a few hundred years ago, concentrated sugars were essentially absent from the human diet — besides, perhaps, the fortuitous find of small quantities of wild honey.
- Today added sugar is everywhere, used in approximately 75 percent of packaged foods purchased in the United States. The average American consumes anywhere from a quarter to a half pound of sugar a day. If you consider that the added sugar in a single can of soda might be more than most people would have consumed in an entire year, just a few hundred years ago, you get a sense of how dramatically our environment has changed. The sweet craving that once offered a survival advantage now works against us.
- Whereas natural sugar sources like whole fruits and vegetables are generally not very concentrated because the sweetness is buffered by water, fiber and other constituents, modern industrial sugar sources are unnaturally potent and quickly provide a big hit.
- Substance use disorders…exist when at least two to three symptoms from a list of 11 are present…sugar produces at least three symptoms consistent with substance abuse and dependence: cravings, tolerance and withdrawal. Other druglike properties of sugar include (but are not limited to) cross-sensitization, cross-tolerance, cross-dependence, reward, opioid effects and other neurochemical changes in the brain.
- In animal studies, animals experience sugar like a drug and can become sugar-addicted. One study has shown that if given the choice, rats will choose sugar over cocaine in lab settings because the reward is greater; the “high” is more pleasurable.
Read full op-ed NY Times article here: Sugar Season. It’s Everywhere, and Addictive
Notes: The recipe for the caramel stuffed soft gingerbread cookies in the photograph can be found here: Fabtasticeats.com.