The Most Addictive Substance in Our Diets
"Sugar is actually almost as addictive, if not more, than drugs like cocaine."
We're talking about a serious addiction today. It's a substance that it is widely overused, and wreaks havoc on our bodies... So what is it? The answer may surprise you. Tune in today as Dr. Keller addresses one of the main issues affecting the health of Americans today, how the food industry is hijacking our health, and why we need to start making some adjustments to keep our bodies functioning the way they should. Plus, he's got some simple tips for making those changes.
- 00:51: Sugar Addiction
- 03:25: The Food Industry and Sugar
- 06:10: Worst Culprits
- 09:01: Manipulating tactics that can get us hooked on sugars
- 09: 14: High Fructose Corn Syrup
- 10:30: Artificial Sugars
- 13:31: Marketing to children
- 16:53: Healthier Choices
- 19:55: Wrap Up
So what is this seriously addictive substance? It’s sugar! Sugar is actually almost as addictive, if not more, than drugs like cocaine. It is one of the main addictions that are affecting the country’s health. Sugar is what we need to survive. It fills everything in our bodies; it allows us to move, to talk and to think. So why is it that something that is so important for life then becomes this absurd thing that is an addiction and that can kill us? The answer goes way back to the primitive brain. Basically, the primitive brain has a pleasure center with a neurotransmitter called dopamine that just goes off, and that part of the brain just lights up when sugar comes around. That part of the brain has a couple of functions. It is there to root our basic instincts, and get feedback pleasure from things that are important to human life: basically, eating and having sex (nourishing our bodies and procreating).
However, our modern society has evolved faster than the human brain. The food industry and a lot of other things that are going on right now in our lifestyle are just not a good match for the way that our brains were created. We now are realizing that the way our brains function does not line up with the context of what’s going on in our world today.
The Food Industry and Sugar
In other words, the food industry is hijacking your brain. There are actually focus groups used by food companies, that help them make their recipes as tasty and addictive as possible, so it has the right texture and the right flavors and the right crunch. A lot of times, it is just pure sugar. They’re trying to figure out how to mix sugars, fats, and texture enough so that you can’t resist and you just have to keep eating it. They’re quite frankly making profits off of making people sick. There is a ton of diabetes in the country, and there are many other disorders related to obesity. We’re starting to see the same in other nations where the physical detriments of our diet and our lifestyle and the amount of sugar that we eat are really starting to wreak havoc on our health.
Often times, the companies in food industries will say that what they’re selling is not something that’s meant to be had all the time. They know you’re not supposed to drink Coke all day long — you’re supposed to have a little bit, and fill your diet with other, healthier stuff. But at the same time, they’re designing it to be as irresistible as possible. They might say just a little won’t hurt you, and it’s not very addictive. But we know in a lot of those instances, making it addictive is actually part of the business model, and part of the way they’re doing it is hijacking your brain, to make you crave sugary drinks and foods.
These include sodas like Coke. Coke used to have another addictive substance in it that gave it its name, and that was taken away a long time ago, but got replaced with one that is just as addictive. The issue with Coke, or the issue with some of these other things even like sports drinks, is that we are getting amounts of sugar that have been purified down to levels and concentrations that do not exist in nature. With a lot of products, you’re getting this huge amount of sugar that your body just frankly wasn’t wired to receive. So in fact, what they’re doing is purifying something from its natural state down to something that’s quite addictive and toxic.
It’s really important for people to be aware of that, and when you have these things that have been processed to the point they don’t have any fiber, or any protein, they enter your bloodstream super fast. It’s the equivalent of giving yourself sugar intravenously. It is like the difference between taking a pain pill or doing a shot of heroin. There’s a quick rush and our brains are like a pinball machine, just going off and wanting more.
Manipulating tactics that can get us hooked on sugars
High Fructose Corn Syrup
We know sugar is addictive, but there are some other things as well. There is high fructose corn syrup. If you check the labels of things like Oreos and Coke, that’s what you’ll find there. This is not just corn, it is basically taking corn and getting a syrup from it, and then chemically manipulating that syrup so that it’s really, really sweet and really concentrated. Unfortunately, with high fructose corn syrup, it does not trigger our brain feedback loops the same way that regular sugar does. If you drink a Coke, you don’t get the glucose feedback mechanism that tells you you’ve had plenty of sugar, you don’t need anymore. Because the way high fructose corn syrup works is it just gets in your bloodstream, and still causes that sugar rush without giving you the mechanism to say “wait, shut it down, stop”. That’s one issue. There is a lot of high fructose corn syrup in the U.S. It’s everywhere, and it’s subsidized by the government. They’re making it really inexpensive so that they can put it in everything. It’s a lot cheaper than using real sugar for example.
Artificial sugars are not necessarily calorie-free
A lot of products contain artificial sweeteners that are supposed to be healthier, but they have their own ramifications. When you have something like a Coke Zero, your brain is not smart enough to know the difference. You taste sweetness on your pallet and your brain responds to what it perceives as sugar coming in, and it sends a message to your pancreas that says put out the insulin, to respond to the incoming sugar. That insulin goes into your bloodstream, and it tells your body to get all the sugar that’s there and store it as fat. What this does is it takes all the natural sugar that should be in your bloodstream for your brain to work and starts sequestering it as fat. Then your blood sugar drops and you get hungry and you reach for whatever you can. This is why it’s better to stay away from artificial sweeteners as they corrupt your palate and they do not serve your mission of better health or of weight loss.
Marketing to children
This is another tactic that manufacturing companies use. For example for cereals, they use big, beautiful, colorful cereal boxes with unicorns and rainbows that contain everything that a child would ever want. All these are terrible for kids as compared to so many other kinds of breakfast that you could be having. We should be furious that our bodies and our health are being hijacked in this way. There is an entire industry, and tons of companies, that are trying to manipulate us. Be smarter than that. Don’t let yourself fall into this trap. You can’t let the food industry win, you can’t let sugar win. If you don’t want to go to the extremes of getting politically active and trying to get things changed within the options of what we have on the shelves, then at least make personal decisions for you and for your family to literally cut the damaging substances out and choose things that nourish you instead.
Healthier Choices that are Easy to Make
Balanced meals and a good breakfast
Try something like free range, organic eggs for breakfast! There’s not going to be hormones in it or any antibiotics used in this type of egg. One of the best ways to cook an egg is to soft boil it, or if you are going to fry an egg don’t let it get crispy. You want it soft-boiled, maybe six to eight minutes is perfect. This will get you all of the nutrients that are in that egg, not corrupted with too much heat.
Healthy, Tasty Snacks
You can have mixed nuts or nut butter such as cashews, walnuts, macadamia nuts, with no added sugar or fruits. Grapes are also a great choice. Also ensure that you get fiber in your diet. Opt for non-processed foods, including vegetables like spinach, or anything in the produce section. When you’re getting enough fiber, you’re going to start to balance out any kind of sugar you would have in your diet.
Avocados are a great source of healthy fats. These healthy fats are great for you because they slow down the absorption of sugar in your bloodstream and they make you feel satisfied for a significant amount of time.
These are just some things that you can start incorporating into your diet that will give you other options, so you aren’t tempted by marketing campaigns that are just trying to hijack your system.
Sugar is a very addictive substance and in some studies has been shown to be just as, if not more addictive than things like cocaine. We are at a point where our food industry has evolved a lot faster than our brain, so we’re kind of falling in this trap where we’re being hijacked and manipulated.
For this reason, really do your best to stay away from those high sugar, low fiber, and low nutrient foods. Make healthy choices, go to the perimeter of the supermarket instead of the isles in between, and get your fresh produce, eggs and dairy, meats and fish. Don’t go to the boxed and canned and frozen areas.
This will start to give you power to fight back against anything that’s trying to really destroy your health and destroy your body.