We all know to go easy on the sweet stuff on a festive occasion but are we “bad” people if we have a sweetie or two?

The joys of eating sugar

Without a doubt, an internet search will give you the impression that sugar is an evil addictive drug that renders a person too helpless to resist.

It simply isn’t true; sweetness is just one of 5 taste sensations on the tongue that interacts with the brain. The others are sourness, saltiness, bitterness, and savoriness.

In nature, sugar is hard to get in large quantities, and therefore the brain releases the reward hormone dopamine to encourage us to search for it and eat more of it. Dopamine acts like a pat on the back, a warm embrace or a kiss for a job well done.

How does sugar affect the body?

Sugar becomes a problem when it is extracted from its natural fibrous form. Fibre puts the brakes on the dopamine rewards.

Think of sugar cane, by the time you have gnawed through the cane to get to the sugar the desire to chow down on more is lost.

Without getting too technical, let’s look at just two naturally occurring sugars:

  • Glucose is found in every living cell on the planet, and our body can make it.
  • Fructose is different, it is found in fruits, some plants (eg sugar cane) and honey. Our body doesn’t produce it (significantly)  because it doesn’t serve any real physiological need.

The difference between these sugars is how the body metabolizes them. Fructose is processed in the liver, in a similar way to alcohol. Glucose, on the other hand,  passes through the liver.

Fructose is now being consumed in unprecedented amounts in our modern day diet, and for the first time in history, we are starting to see non-alcoholic fatty liver disease in children.

Glucose moves quickly through the liver and into the bloodstream to be used by the body. Fructose stays in the liver and what can’t be used for energy is converted to fat.

When fat can no longer be stored in the liver, it gets sent into the bloodstream increasing the body’s triglycerides and cholesterol count.

Increased fat in the bloodstream decreases insulin’s ability to remove sugar from the blood; the liver then reacts by converting more fructose to fat.

It’s a vicious cycle, but only when sugar is extracted from its plant form and consumed in great quantity.  John Yudkin writes of sugar; “It is Pure, White and Deadly.”

Sugar, love, and relationships.

Sugar doesn’t have to be the grim reaper and never be touched – far from it.

The use of sugar for celebrations is deep within many cultures, including our own.

It unifies and sanctifies many traditions. Who wouldn’t want a birthday cake or a plum pudding or chocolates on valentines’ day or Easter eggs! On these special occasions sugar can add to the celebrations.

However, we need to be very, very clear on the purpose of sugar. It is only a part of the celebration of love and relationships we have with each other.

Sugar should never be worshiped, coveted and used as self-reward or a reward of any shape or form – Sugar should never be loved above all else.

To love and be loved by family and friends is the greatest of all dopamine rush.

Remember always the secret ingredient to the perfect sweet is the love that went into its creation…… it’s the reason that my mum’s cakes are always the sweetest and the best!

Live well and eat well



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