When you take sugar you feel a rush, and it won’t be long before you want more of it. That chocolate bar or soda contain large amounts of sugar that go to work on the reward centres of the brain, affecting us in the same way cocaine or nicotine would. But those good feelings come at a price, and your body won’t be thanking you for it in the end.
Sugary drinks are perhaps the best example of the negative power of sugar because of the sheer amount of this “drug” they contain. A can of cola has 39 grams. And those fruit juices you find at the supermarket are for the most part just as bad (some even contain more sugar than your average soda!). Given the mindboggling amount of sugar in these beverages, a small sip is all that it takes for them to get your brain to release massive amounts of dopamine – a hormone and neurotransmitter that plays a major role in reward-motivated behavior.
For this reason it is incredibly difficult to give up sugar. Which is why the average person in America consumes 59 kilograms per year. And in the UAE? The average resident consumes 103 litres (about 300 cans) of soft drinks a year.
Of course none of this would matter if sugar didn’t have such a devastating effect on us. But it does. Sugar produces a large increase in insulin, contributing greatly to silent inflammation. It is therefore one of the primary causes of cardiometoblic disease and a significant contributor to the aging process.
So every time you eat sugary foods, your insulin levels spike, which results in a sharp drop in blood sugar. This triggers cravings for more sugar, which leads to another spike in insulin, and so on. When this “up and down cycle” continues over time (and with the Western diet you can bet it does) your cells lose their sensitivity to insulin, and ever-increasing levels of insulin are then needed to move glucose into cells. This is known as “insulin resistance.”
What this all leads to is the breakdown of your endothelium – the single layer of cells that line your more than 50,000 miles of blood vessels. Due to the Western diet high in sugars and other bad carbs (high glycemic index foods), the silent wear and tear on our endothelium starts at a very young age. If we destroy our endothelium with the Western diet, we develop disease.
And sadly we are talking about a number of deadly noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) that, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), are causing more than 60% of all deaths in GCC countries – with half of those deaths occurring in those less than 60 years of age.
We are dropping dead from diabetes, heart attacks, strokes, cancer, autoimmune disease, Alzheimer’s (what some are now referring to as type 3 diabetes) – and many other debilitating diseases – in large part because of the foods we cannot stop eating. And we are also aging poorly. To give a single example: Those high glycemic index foods are a major reason for premature wrinkling of the skin.
Quite simply, the quality and quantity of carbohydrates you consume each day will determine the length and quality of your life. If you take your health seriously, you will cut back on them.
Having worked with thousands of patients over the years I have been astonished at how quickly and significantly health can improve by limiting the amount of carbs (sugar) we consume. I have seen time and again how those suffering from diabetes, for example, can begin to reverse the disease within just 10 days.
Start with a level of change you can handle and go from there. Educate yourself on the benefits of the Paleo Diet or diets that recommend foods with a low glycemic index. One of the biggest motivators will be just how quickly you see and feel improvements – literally within days of changing your eating habits for the better.
About Dr. Simpson
Graham Simpson, MD is Chief Medical Officer and Founder of Intelligent Health, located in Dubai, UAE. Dr. Simpson graduated from the University of the Witwatersrand Medical School in Johannesburg, South Africa, and is board certified in Internal Medicine and Emergency Medicine. Dr. Simpson is a founding member of the American Holistic Medical Association (AHMA) and is also a licensed homeopath. You can read about Dr. Simpson’s health programs at www.intelligenthealth.ae.