Sugar is referred to as sweet-tasting soluble carbohydrates, of which many are used in food. There are various types of sugar from different sources. Here Dr. Mercola reflects on Ireland's sugar habit and global concerns:
“Sugar Crash,” a documentary, details the havoc that excess sugar consumption is causing for the people of Ireland, a country that ranks No. 4 in sugar consumption worldwide. On average, the Irish are consuming 24 teaspoons of sugar per person daily, whereas the World Health Organization recommends limiting it to 6 teaspoons a day to protect your health.1 For comparison, in the U.S, the No. 1 consumers of sugar worldwide, the average American consumes 31.6 teaspoons of sugar each day.
The start of the film details the perils of tooth decay, with children just 4 and 6 years old requiring numerous tooth extractions. Sugar was blamed as the definite culprit, starting from the time the children are infants chewing on sugar-laced teething biscuits into later childhood when sugary juices became the drink of choice. There are more than 50 different names to describe sugar on food labels, which means if you’re trying to remove it from your diet, you’d better become well-versed in the many pseudonyms.
Even savory foods like pizza and pasta sauce have added sugars, as do popular condiments like ketchup and salad dressings. Sugary drinks alone can contain 10 or 11 teaspoons of sugar in one can, which puts you well over the recommended limit for the day. While the documentary focuses on Ireland’s sugar habit, it’s one that’s shared through much of the developed world, with devastating repercussions on global health.
Ireland was the thinnest country in Europe after World War II, and the increasing weight that occurred during the ‘50s and ‘60s was seen as a good thing. However, average weight caught up with the rest of Europe by the ‘70s and continued rising, such that Ireland is slated to become the fattest country in Europe by 2030. Expanding waistlines are again blamed largely on diet. As occurred in the U.S., food manufacturers and health agencies alike began to vilify fat, removing it from foods starting in the ‘70s.
Without fat to make food taste good, food manufacturers turned to other less-healthy additives, namely processed salt and sugar. Dr. Robert Lustig, professor of pediatric endocrinology at the University of California in San Francisco (USCF), explained that sugar was added in such a way that it made the food irresistible. If you find it difficult to stop eating sugary foods, or find that the more you eat them, the more you want them, it’s because sugar is addictive.
Sugar stimulates the release of dopamine, a neurotransmitter that plays a role in many important pathways, most notably the mesolimbic pathway.2 The way dopamine affects your brain in this area changes with addiction and spikes your perception of motivation or pleasure.
In fact, evidence in humans shows that sugar can induce reward responses and cravings that are comparable to those induced by addictive drugs, which may “explain why many people can have difficultly … [controlling] the consumption of foods high in sugar when continuously exposed to them.”3
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