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Since young, your parents have likely drilled it into your head to stay away from sweets. They are a treat, a rewards… And that is probably where everything went wrong. Due to that mental conditioning and positive reinforcement, we have all come to associate sugary treats with good vibes and positive feelings, with disastrous results. The truth about sugar is that there is no other substance which is more addictive, winning out even the rate of cocaine addiction

In a study published by Saint Luke’s Mid America Heart Institute in Kansas’ very own cardiovascular research scientist James J DiNicolantonio and cardiologist James H O’Keefe, together with William Wilson – a physician working for a nonprofit group, they found that rodents are susceptible to the effects of sugar, reporting that “consuming sugar produces effects similar to that of cocaine, altering mood, possibly through its ability to induce reward and pleasure, leading to the seeking out of sugar,” and when sugar is not found, the mice go into withdrawal. Furthermore, when given a choice between cocaine and sugar, the rodents often go for the latter, proving just how much addictive sugar really is. 

In an attempt to disprove the study, another trio of doctors published their theories that the study conducted was faulty, and that rodents only preferred sugar when having limited access to it. They go on to say that if sugar was made readily available – as it is in our society – the rodents would not become obsessed with the substance, calling the paper premature and lacking in true scientific backing. They also claim that the intermittent sugar feedings caused sugar obsession as sweetness is a stimulating flavor, and is not addictive at all. 

However, taking into account how we humans restrict our children and even ourselves from candy and other sweet treats, how is it any different from the intermittent sugar feedings that the rodents received? When a child is left unsupervised with a jar of candy, chances are, you will come back to find the jar entirely devoid of any remains. If sugar did not make people fat or come with it its own barrages of health issues, it would not be an easy substance to abstain from. While it is not a substance that will have you checked into Austin Sober Living or any other rehabilitation center, it is worth noting that a war is being waged on refined sugar. 

There is a very large divide between the two parties debating whether sugar is in fact, a substance we should not worry ourselves with or something that should be removed from our diets completely. A family that cut out sugar for a year claims that it helped boost their immune system, and when they decided to have cake to celebrate their success at the one year mark, found the sweetness absolutely disgusting and hard to stomach. 

That being said, sugar has been linked to obesity, heart disease, diabetes, cavities, liver disease, blood pressure and cholesterol. It could even cause dementia. On the other hand, there have been reports that glucose in sugar is able to boost mental performance. This glucose is also found in fruits, carbs and other whole foods rather than refined sugar, and scientists say that it is better to reach for foods with high sugar content such as bananas or kale as those two foods are known to be low glycemic and will not spike insulin levels – crucial for those suffering from diabetes. 

Since sugar is an unnecessary evil in our diet, it would be beneficial for our health to cut it out. As with every addiction, quitting should be taken slowly rather than cold turkey, to increase the chances of success. The first things that should go are the obvious treats such as cakes, sweets, chocolate, desserts and the like. Those are easily identifiable – you will be surprised to learn how much food actually has hidden sugars, and you will have to learn to weed them out slowly.  Much like smoking, as you decrease your sugar intake, you will notice that everything becomes much more flavorful. 

The second step is knowing what you put into your body. This is one of the reasons why processed foods are so highly frowned upon, there are numerous ingredients added to make it more tasty and most of the time, sugar is included. Therefore, learn to read labels and learn all 61 names that sugar might be hiding behind. Everything ending in “-ose” might very well be a sugar and if it says sugar – it does not matter whether it is a fruit sugar, sugar is sugar. This includes coconut sugar, brown sugar, sugar cane sugar or even honey. If you do not want to do this step, the simplest thing is to cut processed and pre-packed food out of your diet completely. 

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