Overcoming Sugar Addiction with All Natural Sweeteners

| January/February 2002

During the 1990s, I was the director of the nutritional therapy department of a holistic hospital in Tucson, Arizona. The facility mainly treated substance abuse rehabilitation patients—and did so with natural healing treatments. We were so successful that we were often the harbor of last resort for desperate multiple rehab survivors. In fact, we won a national award for being the most successful rehab facility in the country. Out of the thousands of heroin addicts and alcoholics we treated, what addiction do you think was the one we found most difficult to treat? A clue—it’s in that cookie you’re daydreaming about . . .

The sweet tooth—part of being human

Our bodies run on sugar. Glucose, or blood sugar, is the fuel that gives our cells the moment-to-moment energy they need to keep us alive and healthy. Sugars differ in their molecular structure, which determines how quickly they are digested and absorbed into the bloodstream.

The average American consumes 137.5 pounds of sugar annually, more than half of that from packaged products, making sugar the number-one food additive in the United States. That’s forty-one teaspoons of sugar per day. Soft drinks add up to one-third of all simple sugars that Americans guzzle. Just one soda pop contains seven teaspoons of sugar. People ages eighteen to thirty-four get almost 20 percent of their calories from refined sugars.

The blood sugar cycle

The body is designed to maintain a fairly constant blood sugar level. Rapidly absorbed sweeteners cause blood sugar levels to climb, stimulating the pancreas to secrete insulin. Insulin lowers blood sugar—but excessively in certain people, sometimes producing a “let-down” feeling. After the inevitable crash, the body craves a quick “pick-me-up” snack to boost energy, resulting in an unhealthy spiral.

Low blood sugar levels cause the adrenal glands to secrete the hormone cortisol and the pituitary to secrete adrenocorticotropic hormone. These hormones stimulate the liver to release stored glycogen, converting it back into glucose (blood sugar) and releasing it back into the blood.

In healthy people, this blood-sugar-balancing system works beautifully. But when it is imbalanced, these swings (between low and high blood sugar) can create problems. Too much or too little of either hormone stresses the body. Mood and energy fluctuate. When adrenals overreact to falling blood sugar by producing excessive amounts of adrenaline and cortisol, hypoglycemic symptoms (anxiety, hyperactivity, panic attacks, shakiness, and excessive or unexplained sweating) can develop.

7/29/2016 3:29:56 AM

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