Sugar, our sweet demon of Disguise

Who would have thought that our sweet indulgences could wreak havoc in our bodies and namely the brain?  Much has been written about the negative effects  of over consuming sugar, and the latest documentary “Fed Up” further unveils the demons of the North American diet and its obvious and less obvious heavily sugared palate.  Sugar is not all bad.  Our brain needs glucose. Our neurons are unable to store glucose so it relies on the bloodstream to give it a steady supply.  But too much of a “good thing” inevitably becomes bad  and can actually turn around and deprive your brain of glucose.  In turn this can compromise your ability to concentrate, remember and learn.

When we eat too much sugar and refined carbohydrates, our body compensates by pumping out more insulin to even out our blood sugar.  Too much insulin is a major cause of chronic diseases such as Type 2 diabetes. Excessive insulin can lead to mood and behavior disturbances such as depression, panic attacks, anxiety, insomnia and ADHD. It increases inflammation and oxidative stress and ages your brain leading to what is now referred to as Type 3 diabetes  or Alzheimer’s disease. A team of researchers at a medical school in Rhode Island, U.S. first coined this usage in 2005 after publishing a study concluding that the brain, not just the pancreas, produces insulin.  It suggest that the brain’s inability to produce insulin may lead to Alzheimer’s and diabetics have an increased chance of developing this.

According to Statistics Canada, Canadians downed 110 grams of sugar per day in 2004 from all of its sources.  That is equivalent to 26 teaspoons, way over the recommended amount of 6 teaspoons per day for women and 9 teaspoons per day for men.  Over a year that is 88 pounds of sugar.  To make matters worse, on average a nine-year-old boy will consume 123 lbs.  and male teens 138 lb.  The primary source of these exorbitant amounts are soft drinks.


If we are going to win the battle of overindulgence with sugar, we need to know what it is and the forms it takes.

One step to control our intake is to admit sugar is sugar and comes in many disguises. So buyer beware of its’ incognito counterparts, including agave nectar, brown rice syrup, high fructose corn syrup, dextrose, evaporated cane juice, honey, glucose, lactose, malt syrup, molasses and sucrose.  You would be surprised just how much sugar you are really eating even if you do pass up on sugary desserts. So check your labels …if any of these appear to be in the top four ingredients, beware!








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