Although us though, sugar is currently an important part of our food: the Spaniards consume about 94 grams of sugar every day (between direct consumption and added sugar in processed products), which represents twice the maximum amount recommended by the World Health Organization. This amount has been increasing for years, while we know that excessive consumption of added sugar is directly related to some diseases such as cancer or hypertension.
We know that the consumption of sugar (and speak of the sugar refined or added, non of the intrinsically present in food) it is harmful to our health, and we are still claiming it and we continue to take it. Perhaps are we programmed so that our body likes sugar? Can be considered an addiction?
Dependency or addiction to sugar
Is there really an “addiction” to sugar? When using this term, there is some controversy: while some scientists like Gary Taubes have it very clear and do not hesitate even a moment say that there are people addicted to sugar, others prefer to be cautious and leave it in the term “dependence”, a term with similar connotations negative, but perhaps less aggressive.
The fact is that sugar consumption affects our body, specifically to our neurotransmitters, in a manner similar to as do other substances such as drugs. We then speak of a real addiction?
The system of reward in the brain
Why sugar-containing products are so appealing to us and it is so pleasant to eat them? This is related to the reward system which is activated automatically in our brain when we eat any of these products.
As it explains the video which you can see above, at the same time that we introduce into our mouth a bite of a food with sugar, our taste buds detect the flavor and begin to send signals to our brain. Explained very succinctly: these signals activate the mechanism of rewards in our brain, which is active against other substances such as nicotine or alcohol, and make it secrete dopamine, a neurotransmitter associated with the pleasant feeling.
The signals we receive to eat sugar-rich products are interpreted by our organism from the point of view that has happened “a good thing”, creating a pleasant reminder of the same. This is why that, on several occasions when we are again facing the dilemma of “me how to or not I like that piece of chocolate”, our body remember the pleasant sensation and the usual response is “well, of course!”.
As it is the case with other substances that generate addiction or dependence, the greater the amount of sugar we consume in our day to day, the greater also the amount of sugar that your body requires to generate the same pleasurable response. A dangerous snake that biting its tail and that “resetting” can escape our threshold of sweetness.
No, you don’t need sugar (refined) to live
No, the brain does not need sugar comas. Its energy source is glucose, which can be obtained from different sources #azucar pic.twitter.com/M7jGhdn84x
— Óscar Picazo (@OscarPicazo) 2 de febrero de 2017
On many occasions we can hear, in defense of a “moderate”consumption of products containing added sugar (recall here that the recommendations of the who are not moderate consumption, they give us maximum consumption figures per day and person: about 25 grams of added sugar) that our body needs sugar to live, and that, above all, our brain needs sugar to function.
This is not accurate: explains the chemical Oscar Picazo in computer graphics that you can see above, our brain works perfectly without added sugar. To perform their duties properly you need glucose (which obtained from different sources, obviously these include refined sugar, but is not necessary) or you can also do it through ketone bodies (in the case that the level of glucose in the body is low).
The sugar naturally present in foodstuffs or intrinsic is sufficient for our body to function properly, without having to provide sugar, much less refined or added, in other ways.
Why we so hard to do without sugar?
Delete the added sugar in our food is not a simple task: we think that you leaving take that spoonful of white sugar in the coffee as we are dispensing with the greatest amount of sugar we make in a day. But the reality is that 75% of the sugar we consume on a daily basis can not see it, but we take it indirectly through processed foods.
The food industry uses sugar, under different names, as a flavor enhancer, to increase the palatability of their products, but also gives you other uses as the long-term food conservation. It is an inexpensive and tasty: why found in most processed products (although they do not have a particularly sweet taste, as it can occur, for example, with sliced bread).
One of the questions that most people make when deciding to do without sugar is “and now with what I endulzo my dishes?”. As we said when we talked about “reset the threshold” of sweetness, the ideal is not having to sweeten food, while our body has become accustomed to that ultra-dulce flavor that we provide every day, but return to the original flavor of food without added sugar them or sweetening them.