Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Name that Tune. 'Singing the Sugar Blues'?

An awareness of the life-threatening effects of sugar can prolong your life and prevent premature aging. Photo from Dreamstime.


the Sugar Blues" isn't a popular tune on the radio, but it may be a popular song playing in your head – literally.

Did you know that the average woman consumes 3.5 pounds of sugar a week and doesn't even know it – that's 182 pounds a year! Honey (to use a word), that's a lot of sweetness for one person. It may come as not surprise, then, that most people suffer from sugar addiction.

What exactly constitutes a sugar addiction? According to Wikipedia, it's a perceived difficulty controlling the intake of sweet foods or beverages. There is mounting evidence suggesting that under certain conditions, consumption of sweets or straight sugar may indeed trigger addiction-like behavior. In essence, a measurable physiological state activates an opioid receptor in the brain. Sugar acts as an analgesic drug whose effects are possibly stymied by a morphine blocker which serves as a gateway drug to other drugs.

NYC Healthy Chick knows all too well the effects of sugar. As far back as I can remember, I’ve always gravitated toward sweets, especially when I’ve been stressed out. My love affair with sugar started as a toddler. According to my mom, I'd have a complete meltdown if I didn't have something sweet at bedtime. During adolescence, I progressed to sugary breakfast cereals, candy, vanilla ice cream with Hershey's Syrup, Pepsi and my mom's baked goodies.

If you are consuming too much sugar, that ringing in your head may be the melody to "Singing the Sugar Blues." Photo from Dreamstime.

During my teens, 20s and 30s, I rotated toward baked goods, breads, pasta and alcohol for my sugar fix. I would have my regular meal, then suddenly I'd have a craving for something sweet. Can you totally relate to what I'm saying? Chances are many of you do.

The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that sugar consumption not exceed 10 percent of calories each day. The USDA guidelines are approximately the same, with 40g on a 2,000-calorie-a-day diet. Stop and think for a moment. What are the sources of your daily sugar intake? Not sure exactly? What do you say to soda, energy drinks, juices, caffeinated beverages, candy, desserts, snacks, fruit, vegetables, low-fat snacks, breakfast foods, shakes and smoothies? Check out
to find out how many sugar cubes/grams go into your favorite go-to beverages and foods.

One favorite is the Starbucks Mocha Frappuccino 16 oz. (Grande) drink, with whipped cream. The numbers – 47 grams of sugar and 380 calories; 188 of the calories come from sugar. Holy guacamole! This is a lot of sugar, not to mention calories, in this afternoon delight.

Bottomline folks is that sugar is sugar whether it’s in a granulated or natural form. One interesting fact is that the brain needs 5 grams of glucose or sugar per hour to function, however, the effects of having too much sugar in our diets outweighs this benefit. Over consumption of sugar can lead to the following:

blocking optimal absorption of minerals
blood sugar surges
digestive problems
extra belly fat
gum disease
high blood pressure (hypertension)
high cholesterol
hormone imbalances
loss of key essential vitamins and minerals
over growth of Candida albicans
tooth decay

As delectable as it looks, the Starbucks Mocha Frappuccino is not the answer to the afternoon sugar crash. Photo from Super Snacks.

OK, have I officially scared you to death with this laundry list of health problems? I hope so, if only a little. Reducing your daily intake of sugar will dramatically affect your health and mood for the better.

How can you determine if you suffer from the sugar blues? Symptoms may include: highs and lows in mental and physical states, mental variances that range from euphoria and depression, physical affects like high energy or exhaustion, aggression, hyperactivity and anti-social behavior, irritability, moodiness, anxiety, tremors, headaches and cravings.

Good news. Now, you can break free from your sugar addiction and create a healthier and vibrant You.

Tomorrow: An anecdote for both sugar addiction and the sugar blues.

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