Need a sugar hit to get you through the afternoon? You could have more than just a sweet tooth: evidence suggests sugar acts in similar ways to hard drugs – and you could be addicted without even knowing it.
It’s an affair like no other. Every day you crave a fix of your beloved, but, we hate to break it to you: your love for sugar is unrequited, and it’s never going to treat you right. You’re not the only one head over heels. As a nation, we currently sit third, behind Brazil and Mexico, as the largest sugar consumers in the world, scoffing around 53 kilograms each of it every year – that’s more than one kilo each per week!
That sweet tooth is costing us more than loose change at the vending machine. Sugar is a 50/50 split of glucose and fructose. “Glucose is the equivalent of fuel for us,” states David Gillespie, author of the Sweet Poison book series. “Fructose, on the other hand, is converted immediately to fat by our liver. By the time you finish a glass of apple juice [which contains as much sugar as a can of Coca- Cola], the first mouthful is already circulating in your arteries as fat,” he warns.
And that’s just the start. By converting into a fat internally, fructose subverts our two main appetite gatekeepers, leptin and insulin, leading to overeating. The circulating fat also raises our blood sugar levels and can make us insulin resistant. As Gillespie warns, “If we become resistant, the more glucose stays in circulation, meaning we have a blood sugar level that is too high – this can lead to the development of type 2 diabetes and, in turn, cognitive diseases such as Alzheimer’s.”
Plus, sugar compromises your metabolism and immune system, never mind your teeth or the number on the scales. And when the glucose goes, we’re left with plummeting blood sugar levels and a body that begins to crave its fix: more sugar.
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