As I continue to treat patients from a clinical stand point, I am amazed at the amount of food addiction that is occurring within our culture. So often do we forget that certain foods create a stimulant affect within the body’s physiology in exactly the same way certain recreational drugs do. There have been recent studies done using functional MRI that show high sugar foods stimulate the same receptors within the the brain that cocaine does. This is a pretty interesting fact due to the prevalence of our societies sugar intake. Here is a fun fact, do you know how much sugar we consumed on average 100 years ago? 7lbs per person per year. Do you know how much sugar we consume now? Are you ready for it, 150lbs per person per year. That is a staggering difference and the reason for this difference really has to do with the food industry which changed its ingredient structure around the 1950’s. Here is how it happened. Americans were dying of heart disease at increased rates. There was funding that was used to find out why this was happening. So medical science concluded that is must be all the fat in the food that was causing the issue. About this time is when we started waging a war against fat. Now the food industry had to scramble to find something new they could add to their food products now that they tasted like cardboard because they removed all the fat. What they found as an ample substitute was SUGAR! And from that point on we were hooked.
Sugar started showing up in almost everything. People seemed to like it, which of course increased sales for the food industry. But what they failed to realize is that this was creating a much bigger issue at hand, one of addiction. Over the next 60 years, our society has fallen in love with sugar much the same way a drug addict falls in love with cocaine. There are these highs and lows that occur when you eat sugar which builds a tolerance for it. You then have to increase your intake to achieve the same metabolic high.
The biggest difference between sugar and cocaine is that we do not have celebrities (yes the ones that our children look up to), promoting cocaine but they sure are promoting sugar (Pepsi, Coke, McDonald’s, etc..). The justification and enabling that goes on within our culture is a major part of the issue. Everyone eats sugar right? We all need to do our part to open our eyes and begin taking a stand against the our universal addiction to sugar. Remember it is a white powder just like those other white powders. And do not believe for a moment that it is does not have a tremendous impact on your health. It is likely the number one cause (along with stress) of almost all chronic illness that we deal with in our country. Do something different and take time to educate yourself about your decisions and their impact on your health.