Friday, February 3, 2012

Should Sugar be Regulated Like Alcohol and Tobacco?

My first gut reaction to that question was, "No!  Why would we need Big Brother sticking his nose in yet another facet of my life?"  It's not as if we aren't being told more and more what we can do and what we can't.  I don't want a man in a trench coat coming in and taking my stash of chocolate, along with anything else he wants.  Okay, okay maybe that's getting a little over the top, but it happens.  Just ask Rawsome Foods who was raided because of regs on raw milk.  Check out  this article.

But when I read the articles regarding sugar, it was enlightening.

Researchers from the University of California at San Francisco advise that "Sugar poses enough health risks that it should be considered a controlled substance just like alcohol and tobacco."

I won't copy the articles here verbatim, but I highly recommend that you read them.  The research is eye opening and explains a lot.

Scientists contend:  "But there are also other areas of impact that researchers have investigated: the effect of sugar on the brain and how liquid calories are interpreted differently by the body than solids. Research has suggested that sugar activates the same reward pathways in the brain as traditional drugs of abuse like morphine or heroin. No one is claiming the effect of sugar is quite that potent, but, says Brownell, 'it helps confirm what people tell you anecdotally, that they crave sugar and have withdrawal symptoms when they stop eating it.'"

I know some people do not crave sugar.  My husband doesn't.  Personally I can tell you that the effect on me is strong because I do crave sugar.  When I don't get it, I am almost frantic.  Very similar to someone wanting their next "fix" or an alcoholic needing his next drink.  When I finally get my "sweet", it is a feeling of relief and I sigh contentedly as I eat it.

I have successfully stopped eating sugar in the past by "tricking" my brain into thinking I was eating sugar.  I used alternative sweeteners and was satisfied.  Therefore, I think a lot of it may be in the brain and senses, not a body chemistry reaction.  Once the sugar is out of the system for a couple days, the cravings go away.  And should I even take a taste of something with refined sugar in it, I am hooked once again.  I have problems with artificial sweeteners though, because they cause my heart to beat sluggishly.  So I have stopped using them.  I just need to try to go cold turkey on the refined sugars for a couple of days to get the cravings to stop.  I would welcome any suggestions.  As you know, we recently started to walk for our health and I believe the next step is healthy eating.
As I read these articles, I wondered about how sugar is made and discovered that in both sugar cane and sugar beets chemicals are added to refine them into sugar.  The process is explained at length here, but doesn't enlighten us on exactly what chemicals are used.  However, in my (humble) opinion, the addition of chemicals to your food and ultimately to your body cannot be good, no matter what the chemical.

Also, I checked some foods in the house and realized sugar is hidden in a lot of foods we eat that we may not realize. 

So, in response to the question, "Should sugar be regulated like alcohol and tobacco?", I would have to say...Maybe.  Yes, manufacturers should be held accountable for what they pack into processed foods.  Then again, we are talking about processed foods.  We need to get back to basics and take processed foods and refined sugars out of our diets, but that is probably another blog entry all together.

Put a tax on it if you want.  I don't care.  Ultimately, it's personal responsibility and I need to step up and eat healthy.

As far as sugar in my food storage, I plan on focusing on natural sugars like honey, molasses and natural sugars in fruits.  So, tell me your thoughts.  I look forward to hearing from you.

Watch more on my thoughts here.