Health & Lifestyle

Sugar: From addiction to business

We all have a sweet tooth from time to time. Nonetheless, the real danger lies in hidden sugars present in a wide plethora of food items as most of us are not even aware that we are consuming so much sugar in excess. We find processed food convenient and do not really read labels or calculate the amount of sugar being consumed. It is time to go back to the basics to define a correct and balanced approach.

Going back to the roots

To be able to understand why sugar is part and parcel of our everyday consumption, it is better to take a walk down memories avenue. Native to Southeast Asia, sugar cane has been central to trade in Europe and the USA. This business appealed most to colonists and it expanded, it gave birth to the slave trade as well. Later on, sugar production became the pillar of the food industry in the USA, leading to a correlated boom in its consumption. Sugar steadily grew into being regarded as a business rather than a food product.

Sugar is addictive

Health experts’ opinions are unwavering about it: sugar causes addiction. Our body functions in such a way that once we consume something sweet, signals are sent to our brain for an evaluation of taste. Sweet food pushes the brain to send reward signals which give us the feeling of satisfaction. We hence have a liking for sugary food.

Addiction means good business

Businesses are aware of the pleasant feeling and satisfaction one has after consumption of sweet food. Sugar is hence used as a bait to hook consumers to their products like sodas and cookies. Furthermore, high fructose corn syrup which is widely used in such food items are not costly at all. Compared to cane sugar, a lesser quantity of this syrup is required to offer the same sweet taste; a sweet token for businesses.    

Recommended quantities

It is advised by the American Heart Association that a woman should not exceed 6 teaspoons corresponding to 100 calories per day and that a man should not consume more than 9 teaspoons equivalent to 150 calories, per day. To have a clearer picture, a can of Pepsi-Cola consists of 8.75 teaspoons of sugar; a Special K cereal has 3 full teaspoons while a Hershey’s milk chocolate bar has 6 teaspoons. Defying the recommendations, an American consumes 100lbs of sugar yearly. The scenario is startling.

Sugar substitutes may be alluring

Honey and agave are branded as healthy alternatives to table sugar. Natural products containing vitamins, antioxidants, and nutrients, they do have health benefits. Compared to cane sugar, they have a relatively low glycemic index . Nevertheless, both honey and agave should be consumed in moderation as taken in excess, they may lead to similar health issues resulting from excessive consumption of cane sugar. They are no miracle sweeteners.

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