Tuesday, December 23, 2014

How sweet!

Not be the Grinch during this season of tasty tidbits, but this article in the New York Times prompts me to ask the question:

What do you call a substance that has the following effects:

Cravings, tolerance, withdrawal, cross-sensitization, cross-tolerance, cross-dependence, reward, opioid effects.

Answer:  Addictive.

Case in point:  Sugar.

The authors note:

Sugar stimulates brain pathways just as an opioid would, and sugar has been found to be habit-forming in people. Cravings induced by sugar are comparable to those induced by addictive drugs like cocaine and nicotine. And although other food components may also be pleasurable, sugar may be uniquely addictive in the food world. For instance, functional M.R.I. tests involving milkshakes demonstrate that it’s the sugar, not the fat, that people crave. Sugar is added to foods by an industry whose goal is to engineer products to be as irresistible and addictive as possible. 

Today added sugar is everywhere, used in approximately 75 percent of packaged foods purchased in the United States. The average American consumes anywhere from a quarter to a half pound of sugar a day.

Their remedy:

Focusing narrowly on added sugar could have unintended consequences. It could prompt the food industry to inject something equally or more harmful into processed foods, as an alternative.A better approach to sugar rehab is to promote the consumption of whole, natural foods. Substituting whole foods for sweet industrial concoctions may be a hard sell, but in the face of an industry that is exploiting our biological nature to keep us addicted, it may be the best solution for those who need that sugar fix.

1 comment:

Mitch said...

Go paleo....it works.

More broadly, the sick care system (It has nothing to do with health) can not overcome bad diet. We did not evolve to eat like most Americans do. When 2/3 of the population is visibly sick (overweight, obese) something is broken.