Over the years I've had a growing suspicion that sugar is addictive. There would seem to be a deep subconscious physiological and neurological process behind this. Anyone who has been to a child's first birthday party has witnessed the human response to simple sugar for the first time. At first the baby doesn't really know what is sitting in front of her. Then some well-meaning adult takes the frosting on her finger and puts it into the innocent's mouth. Baby is forever changed in that moment as she continues to grow and learn that sugar is yummy, pleasurable, and.....addictive.
I have certainly observed clinically the effects of sugar and carbohydrates on human health. But, I am speaking from experience personally that there isn't a human alive... who wouldn't be drawn to sugar. It brings pleasure, which can be described by the neurological effects it has on the brain. Mankind has been on this planet for.... a long time, but it's only recent that our ingenuity brought forth isolated sugars in large cheap quantities. The food industry has been able to capitalize on this in a BIG way, enabling us all to have access to the socially acceptable drug...sugar!
Over the years I've observed this... it's been a cognitive and personal journey to break my own cycle of addiction [sugar abstinence after a relatively long consumption period resulted in impairment of DRL performance, confirming the parallel effects of addictive drugs and sugar and suggesting an increase in impulsivity as a consequence of sugar deprivation.]. I like information... but not trivia. I like to learn information that can be applied to our lives. Back in the early 90's I begin to hear about sugar... and it's adverse effects on our bodies. This was not a very popular topic, whereas mainstream health and nutrition information ignored the topic or outright denied it. Deep down I knew sugar wasn't good. In grade-school they taught us that sugary foods were bad for our teeth... So brush brush brush, swish, and maybe floss. I think that everyone knows that eating lots of dessert is bad. Too much sugar isn't good...of course. But what is too much? And what about starch.. that we quickly turn into sugar?
I'd say that I've struggled like everyone else to decide what was too much sugar. Is one form better than another. I've heard many patients tell me that they dutifully avoid sugar, instead using agave syrup, or coconut sugar. I am always amazed at how much mis-information is out there... or how much self-denial we have when it comes to sugar. Sugar by any other name is still sugar. It's too bad sugar isn't real expensive. Humans need every incentive to limit something they are biologically wired to pursue with abandon, which isn't good for them. Honey, agave, coconut sugar, evaporated cane juice, fructose, fruit juice concentrate, high-fructose corn syrup, sucrose, white sugar, all have the same affect on the body... more or less. And we are all addicted to them.
So what about starch? Bread, potato, corn, grains, beans, fruits? These grow and are natural. Yes, but we convert starch to sugar. Fruit today is larger and higher in sugar than it was 200 years ago... and more available... year round. Starch turns to sugar more slowly than eating sugar, but eventually it's all the same. It's a biological fact that our bodies are designed to efficiently convert starch and sugar into stored fat. That is why we are getting fatter and no matter how we diet and work out... we just keep gaining.
Anyone whose been following me on Facebook or reading my articles over the past 6 months knows where I'm going with this.... To change ourselves, we need to understand the basic way we are designed and how others have been preying on our biological vulnerabilities. This goes way beyond bodily appearance. Inside our bodies is where the real battle is waging, no matter how we look on the outside (inflammation, diabetes, heart disease, chronic pain, hormone imbalance.....). But clearly a BIG part of this is the amount of stored fat we are carrying.
Please pardon this next part... but I'm hoping to make a memorable point. This topic often reminds me of being in gross anatomy lab over a decade ago. This is where every medical student finds herself at the onset with the unnerving task of dissecting a real human being. I could tell you many stories about this experience, but will limit it here to one. Two young female classmates had the misfortune to end up with a cadaver that was an obese woman. In order for them to complete their weekly tasks... of identifying the anatomical structures... they had to wade through literally pounds of adipose tissue... we are talking buckets of yellow fat! This represented a lifetime of excess caloric intake... not just any calories... CARBOHYDRATES!
Sadly, for many it's not about being weak, or lacking willpower. It's by design that we are fat. We were designed to live within an environment with little carbohydrate availability... most of the year. We were designed to burn our own fat stores during periods of scarcity, cold seasons and regular extended physical activity. Short of us forming a commune and never going to the grocery store again, there is the benefit of our modern understanding of what is making us fat and addicted and the availability of tools to break the addiction.
I wish there was a way to help everyone understand what to do...without another diet label. But the ketogenic diet is the best we've got. when applied properly.. it is the only way to tap into the body's design to burn fat and normalized health. Are carbs bad? No. Neither is fat. It's the disrespect of our design that has messed up our health. We need to accept that we can never break free of carbs without help. Tools. Or as many have done in recent years, come to adapt to a ketogenic diet because they were so desperate from their declining health and increasing body mass. Embarking on a real ketogenic diet is near impossible without major motivation and willpower. I highly recommend this endeavor. The benefits will be life changing. But as I recently was reminded of... you need to have a clear goal and codify the WHY you want to love yourself enough to change. We were made to thrive. It's important to have a real perspective on what that means. Just looking good for a selfie on Facebook or that bathing suit for this summer's vacation isn't enough. Not enough to help you make good choices every day.
You must use the tools at hand. Build a support group around you. Those that build you up. Self-educate yourself. Nurture your spiritual well-being. Connect with creation, get outside and move. Use effective health promoting tools like exogenous ketones, natural agents for success.... I'm rooting for you!