Sugar regulation in the food industry is a tricky issue, but weaning yourself off the sweet stuff will transform your health.

Sugar can be as toxic to your body as alcohol and hard drugs, according to a new study from the University of California. Researchers say that, taken in high quantities, sugar’s not only responsible for obesity and type 2 diabetes, it can also contribute to many of the major fatal diseases, including heart disease and cancer. The scientists believe this is because sugar is a poison in high doses, and it is unavoidable in our modern diet.

Description: Here is a very reasonable assessment on the topic of sugar

Here is a very reasonable assessment on the topic of sugar

For our ancestors, sugar was only available in the form of fruit and honey, and available only for a few months of the year, at harvest time, But today it’s routinely added to processed foods, from yoghurts and biscuits, to more surprising items, such as brown bread and crisps. By eating these foods we’re adding around 150lbs of sugar to our diets every year, says Jacob Teitelbaum, medical director and author of Beat Sugar Addiction Now! (Fair Winds Press, $23).

Globally, sugar consumption has tripled in the past 50 years. According to the United Nations, 63 per cent of all deaths are a result of non-communicable diseases such as cancer and cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure and diabetes – all symptoms of metabolic syndrome, which can be caused and exacerbated by high-sugar diets. These lifestyle-related diseases now pose a bigger threat worldwide than infectious diseases, and place a big strain on health services.

“Eating sugary foods and high-glycaemic carbohydrates raises your blood sugar levels, triggering excess insulin production,” says nutrition consultant Christine Bailey (advancenutrition.co.uk). And if the pancreas is put under too much pressure to produce insulin, you could be at risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

“High fructose corn syrup [HFCS], which is often used as a sweetener in fizzy drinks, cereals and processed foods, is one of the worst forms of sugar, as it can only be metabolized in the liver. It’s converted to fats, including cholesterol and triglycerides, which can increase your risk of heart disease,” says Bailey. Uric acid is produced as the liver breaks down HFCS which, in high levels, causes high blood pressure and inflammation.

Description: high-glycaemic carbohydrates

high-glycaemic carbohydrates

Sugar can mess with your head, too. “Sugar triggers production of your brain’s natural opioids, which are key to the addiction process,” says Bailey. A study by scientist at the University of Bordeaux, found that 94 per cent of rats tested were more likely to choose sugar over cocaine. The researchers believe the instant gratification from the sweetness of the sugar is what makes it so addictive. Symptoms of sugar dependency include bloating, yeast infection, hormone imbalance, depression, tiredness, irritability and a weak immune system.

Sugar also makes you feel hungry: it increases levels of the hormone ghrelin, which sends hunger signals to the brain, and stops the brain detecting the hormone leptin, which regulates appetite. So, not only are sugar calories empty, they’ll actually make you want to eat more.

Description: Sugar can be as toxic as alcohol

Sugar can be as toxic as alcohol, and can contribute to fatal diseases

In a radical step, the University of California researchers have called for sugar to be regulated in the same way as alcohol. Possible steps include making high-sugar foods more expensive, or lobbying the government to place tighter restrictions on food manufacturers. In the meantime, here are some steps you can take to reduce your on sugar consumption and protect your health.

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