You might want sit down for this sour bite of news. Without sugar-coating, the white stuff we inhaled as kids, in excess, takes a toll far more toxic than cavities. The National Post shares a report published this week that suggests sugar is so toxic that it should be regulated like alcohol.
How toxic is toxic? Think obesity, heart disease, cancer, diabetes, high cholesterol, liver toxicity and other chronic diseases related to inflammation.
Sneaky Sugar Bombs: Processed, Packaged Food & Drink
These spooky conditions won't arrive after a regretful indulgence -- it's more often a slow build and bio-accumulation of too-often-made indulgences and super sneaky sugars that we often aren't even aware of. Sugar, the report states, is added to "nearly all processed foods," even the savory tasting ones. If you've begun to read packaged food and beverage labels, this won't come as a surprise. As the article reports, many schools have replaced soda and candy vending machines with juice and sports drinks, but they still contain, you guessed it, added sugar.
So what's a sweet-tooth to do? Live like our ancestors, begin reading food labels and teach the new generations to do the same. The National Post writes,
Over the eons sugar was available to our ancestors as fruit for only a few months a year at harvest time, or as honey “which was guarded by bees,” says the report by Dr. Robert Lustig, a noted childhood obesity expert at the University of California, and two U.S. colleagues specializing in health policy.
Yours Truly Quits Sugar, Like Cigarettes
It might take time (a long time) but you are capable of changing your eating habits for a healthy long life. Twizzlers once made this blogger's mouth happy (I figured they're low-fat -- back then I didn't know about sugar). Then I switched to all-natural, organic gummy bears and licorice from health food stores. Now anything with sugar in any form (it should be known organic sugar, evaporated cane crystals, cane juice, fructose and sucrose, and all other "healthier" sounding sugars are still ugly sugars) come as a once in a while treat. This includes refined breads, baked goods, chips, and crackers too, which often contain added sugars and cause our blood sugar to spike.
Agave, honey, fruit (both fresh and dried), and moderate wine and beer consumption helped me transition from a high refined sugar diet to a very low (almost nil) refined sugar diet over the course of a few years.
Let the Sugar Polices Begin!
As someone who has and continues to clean my system from sugar, I can say first hand trying to get off it is like trying to quit cigarettes. It's very exciting to see the public health community treat it as seriously as it deserves and begin questioning how they might work within the confines of a powerful sugar lobby and sugar-loving society: Will it be setting an age limit of 17 years to buy soda pop as the report suggests? A sugar tax on sweetened foods? Or could the U.S. Food and Drug Administration regulate the maximum amount of sugar that can be added to food, as Dr. Lustig and his colleagues suggest?
While I think these ideas, most notably the last, would lead us toward a more enlightened, naturally sweet society, we can also take action right away sticking to the green diet we 'Huggers and dietary heroes like Michael Pollan and Jamie Oliver espouse: whole foods and homemade goodies (where you can regulate the type of unrefined sweetener you use and how much) and the under-appreciated simplicity of water to hydrate.
When the cookie monster wants to get the better of me, I try to remember nothing tops a clean bill of health. I look forward to watching policy makers address this intelligently, based on science; but, most importantly, for individuals to get informed and improve their own diets and lifestyle.