This question as to whether sugar is a drug might sound ridiculous at first but upon further scrutiny you might arrive at a different conclusion. Let’s first consider the amount of sugar consumed per year for the average American. In fact let’s compare the amount of sugar intake compared to other western countries.
Atop the list of sugar consuming countries is the United States. Next in the list is Germany, and then the Netherlands, followed by Ireland, Australia, the United Kingdom, Mexico, Finland and so on.
According to The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) the average American consumes between 150 to 170 pounds of refined sugars a year That figure may seem too high until you analyze the statistics!
Interestingly 1800s, the average intake of sugar was only about 4-6 pounds per person per year but has increased steadily since that time. The types of foods being consumed at that time was not sugar dependent for taste. In fact sugar was a luxury, not a necessity.
So why the major uptick in sugar usage? There are many factors but some of the main reasons are:
- Sugar incorporated into all foods processed as well as non processed
- The emergence of soft drinks and juices
- The industry’s desire to standardize the taste of products
When it comes to sugar consumption, we’re not just referring to white refined sugar but it’s eminently more dangerous relative, high fructose corn syrup which goes by many names.
Sugar is Sucrose and is about 50% glucose and 50% fructose bound together. When sucrose is ingested the glucose can be metabolized by nearly every cell in the body, while the fructose is metabolized almost entirely in the liver which puts an enormous strain on the liver.
The take away from this is fructose which is bound to glucose in fruits and vegetables is dramatically different from the free unbound fructose in high fructose corn syrup(HFCS). While all sugar at elevated consumption levels is bad, HCFS is bad on steriods which contributes to many health problems
HCFS have been proven to punch holes in the intestinal lining causing:
- Leakey Gut
- Heart disease
- Premature aging
One final point about HFCS is it’s hiding in most foods and sometimes combined with other sugars, especially in processed foods. While food labeling may provide a clue, there are many names to this invader
- It’s fair to say that sugar is in virtually everything we consume such as:
- barbecue sauces
- breakfast cereals
- frozen dinners
- hot dogs
- peanut butter
- salad dressing
- Processed meats
Some names for sugar you may or may not recognize:
- Glucose syrup
- Tapioca syrup
- Fruit fructose
- Coconut sugar
- powdered sugar
- Date sugar
- Demerara sugar
- Evaporated cane juice
- Beet sugar
- Blackstrap molasses
- Brown sugar
- Buttered syrup
- Cane sugar
- Carob syrup
- Castor sugar
- Date sugar
- Fruit juice
- Fruit juice concentrate
- Golden sugar
- Golden syrup
- Grape sugar
- Maple syrup
- Muscovado sugar
- Panela sugar
- Sorghum syrup
- Treacle sugar
- Yellow sugar
- Maize syrup
So what would qualify sugar as a drug?
Let’s first consider Wikapedia’s definition – A drug is any substance (other than food that provides nutritional support) that, when inhaled, injected, smoked, consumed, absorbed via a patch on the skin, or dissolved under the tongue causes a temporary physiological (and often psychological) change in the body.
Let me categorically reject that definition because it excludes food of which sugar is. So I guess they are using the FDA’s definition.
The next question to be answered is whether sugar is addictive. My life experience tells me that Sugar affects our brain pathways the same as addictive drugs, and the way it makes us feel is why most of us don’t realize how much we’re consuming. In fact, sugar activates the same part of the brain (producing dopamine) just like drugs such as nicotine and cocaine, meaning the consumption of it elicits a behavior we crave repeating.
The insidious part is that we’re hooked when we are babies through nothing but our tastebuds and brain. So to give a definitive answer, absolutely sugar is a drug. If it acts like a drug, it’s a drug.
If you think that artificial sweetners are an escape, think again. They are much worse and can damage you in a much shorter period of time. They are essentially man made chemicals that can cause all manor of disease.
On a personal note I quit smoking in the 1970s and as I remember, it took me about 7 tries to finally quit. I’m still trying to quit sugar but since it is in everything I’m constantly being reintroduced to it’s effects.
Think about it, they even give you a sugar pill as a placebo. Why can’t they find something non addictive to use?