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Thousands of years ago, humans tended to consume sugar found naturally in food and it did not cause much problem. Now things have changed over a period of several years, and it is estimated that around one third of our calories are derived from refined sugar and white flour. However, our bodies were not designed to handle such a massive and unnatural load.
Ms. Amna Nawaz currently works as a clinical psychologist at Willing Ways, Lahore. She has done MS in clinical psychology and B.Sc (Hons.) from GC University, Lahore. Heath counseling, addiction counseling, subjective well-being and intellectual disability are her areas of interest as well as her educational expertise.Earlier, she has also supervised trainee child psychologists working in a special education institute being run by the Government of Punjab.
Editor: Sahrish sarfraz
Sugar provides fuel to every cell in the brain. Our brain also perceives sugar as a reward so it wants more of it. If one often eats a lot of sugar, then the reward gets reinforced, making it tougher to break the habit. Whenever we consume sugar, which is called a simple carbohydrate, it is quickly converted into glucose in our bloodstream, which increases our blood sugar levels. Our body is designed to move glucose out of the bloodstream and into the cells to provide energy. For that matter, our pancreas secretes a hormone called insulin. After the secretion of insulin, our blood sugar level reaches a sudden drop.
This sudden change in blood sugar can make you feel low in energy and you tend to search for more sweets to achieve that sugar “high” once again. This desire to eat more sweets can make you vulnerable for sugar addiction. Fruits, vegetables, and dairy products all contain carbohydrates but they slow the metabolic process due to the amount of fiber and protein in them. So they can give you more lasting feeling of fulfillment. However, candies, cakes, ice creams are not metabolized in the same manner so they have the tendency to make you feel more deprived of energy quickly after consuming it.
Apart from the long term benefits of significant decrease in the risk of developing chronic illnesses like diabetes, heart attack, stroke and hypertension, cutting back on your sugar intake also help in various other health conditions such as obesity, chronic fatigue syndrome, immune functioning, anxiety and depression, irritable bowel syndrome, cholesterol functioning, hormonal problems and even cancer. Moreover, it also helps in boosting the metabolism making it easy to lose weight.
When it comes to establishing the appropriate amount of sugar, American Heart Association suggests that women can consume no more than 6 teaspoons of sugar on daily basis that makes about 100 calories, whereas, men can consume maximum 9 teaspoons of sugar making it about 150 calories.
According to research evidence, sugar is addictive in nature and it actually stimulates the same pleasure centers of the brain as the hardcore drugs like cocaine or heroin. Signs of sugar addiction involve intense sugar cravings, losing control over the consumption of sugar items and eating more of it than you actually planned. Similarly, getting rid of sugar addiction also leads to withdrawal symptoms such as low mood, fatigue, anxiety and cravings like other addictive drugs, and it also requires an actual detoxification process.