While we are here, it might be a good idea to take a look at some of the bad guys and how they got us into this mess in the first place. We will also look into how to avoid them. Over the next 10 years, we will see the escalation of the war on added sugar, which is now recognized as a health threat on par with tobacco. The sugar industry is already starting to put up a fight to defend their business in much the same way that the tobacco industry did; only this time, they have been able to learn from the mistakes made by the big tobacco companies.
Experts now believe that sugar can easily become a complete addictive substance in much the same way as drugs are. In an experiment conducted by French scientists in Bordeaux, it was discovered that rats chose sugar rather than cocaine, even when they were addicted to cocaine.
Sugar was first cultivated by man on the island of New Guinea some 10 000 years ago. During that time, it was simply picked and eaten raw. It gradually spread and is believed to have reached mainland Asia about 1000 B.C. It was carried by the conquering Arab caliphs, and as their power spread, sugar use spread, too. Once the British and French discovered it, demand soared, and the slave trade was born.
The reason I have touched briefly on the history of sugar is to show how recently it became a part of the human diet. In the 1700s, the average Englishman consumed four pounds per year. By 1800, that amount soared to 18 pounds, but that was just the start. Come 1870, an English commoner would have been eating around 47 seven pounds per year, which then leapt to 100 pounds per year in just 30 years. Today, the average American consumes 77 pounds of added sugar.
What is the consequence of this colossal sugar addiction of ours?
One-third of adults have high blood pressure, and 347 million suffer from diabetes. Early nutrition experts who were first to start raising the alarm bell about the devastating effects of sugar on our health were simply drowned out by those blaming high cholesterol for the modern afflictions of obesity and heart disease. Over the last 20 years, fat consumption in the U.S. has gone down, but obesity levels are going up faster than ever. American endocrinologist Robert Lustig says, “It has nothing to do with calories. Sugar is a poison by itself when consumed in high doses.”
Here is the real catch: sugar is really difficult to avoid, especially if you eat fast food and ready meals, because it is an essential ingredient used by the food industry to add taste. Taste is even more necessary if the fat levels of meals have been lowered to persuade people that they are eating something healthy.
Lustig goes on to say, “An analysis of 175 countries over the past decade showed that when you look for the cause of type 2 (non-insulin dependent) diabetes, the total number of calories you consume is irrelevant. It’s the specific calories that count. When people ate 150 calories every day, the rate of diabetes went up by 0.1 percent. However, if those calories came from a can of fizzy drink, the rate went up to 1.1 percent. Added sugar is 11 times more potent in causing diabetes than general calories.”
There are complicated scientific reasons for this, and the whole of science will be in dispute for years to come, but reducing sugar intake appears to be crucial not only for weight loss, but for overall health as well. The average 12-ounce can of soda contains 10 teaspoons of sugar. If you consider that some people consume two or three such drinks during the course of a day, is it any wonder that obesity has reached the levels that it has?
When looking at foods to eat, it’s pretty obvious that you should find the foods that have less sugar. Any foods that have no sugar added are even better. Anything that you might want to add sugar to should not have any sugar in the first place. This way, you won’t be eating too much sugar.
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