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Imagine how American society would function if drug dealers pumped 150 to 175 pounds of heroin per person per year into the veins of the elderly, the middle-aged, and the young alike. As with any addiction, the sugar situation will only worsen barring drastic intervention and widespread lifestyle changes. Most Americans keep right on eating and drinking boatloads of sugar because, after all, they're sugar junkies.
How can the white stuff that kids and adults alike sprinkle on their cereal have this narcotizing power? But there's more to it in the case of my father and the rest of us who have reactive hypoglycemia, an underreported pre-diabetic condition in which blood sugar spikes in response to a heavy carb load. I'd challenge anyone to find a drug whose effects are more powerful than a blood sugar drop from 160 to 50 in half an houra€”the scale of my descent on a glucose tolerance test when I learned that I was pre-diabetic. I witnessed this phenomenon when I saw my father for the first time in 20 years in early 2008.
This scene reminded me of a drug addict who has seen his life destroyed by the substance he can't refuse.
Researchers at Princeton University have studied the effects of sugar on the brain chemistry of rats, and what they've found is that their subjects exhibit all the effects of heroin addiction. Remove the substance altogether, and the sugar abuser experiences physical and psychological withdrawal symptoms.
Then the pancreas overreacts by secreting too much insulin, too late, like an over-eager rookie cop coming across a crime scene after the fact. We know what to do to prevent this epidemic that will cripple us as individuals and as a society. Well, sugar, an addictive substance that speeds along the same brain pathways as heroin, enters the food supply in those quantities. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that by 2050, the disease, in its full form, will inhabit as many as one in three U.S.
They'll bankrupt our healthcare system with their chronic fatigue, dialysis treatments, amputations, and the numerous other diabetic complications. Only the worse off he becomes, the lousier he feels, the more he craves the very thing that sentenced him to this hell on earth.
Sugar does this by triggering the release of the feel-good brain chemical dopamine in the section of the brain normally associated with addictive behaviors. This insulin response drives blood sugar below 70 milligrams per deciliter, making your body crave quick-energy sugar not just for pleasure but also for survival. I felt as though I'd been shot by a tranquilizer capable of taking down an elephant in the wild. Exercise daily, which not only helps usher sugar out of your bloodstream, but also produces good-vibe brain chemicals of its own, called endorphins. The result of this sugar surge is that more than one in three adults now has either Type 2 diabetes or its harbinger, pre-diabetes.
A society with such an overwhelmingly diabetic population will no longer be viable economically, a much scarier prospect than that predicted in the dystopian novel Brave New World, where addicts merely crave the comparatively less harmful Soma and then go do their assigned tasks. Twinkies aren't classified as a controlled substance, but for the glucose intolerant, perhaps they should be.
I've never taken narcotics recreationally, but I have used Vicodin after surgeries, and the feeling of that drug reminded me of a carb-induced blood-sugar crash. To do this, you need to eat protein, healthy fats, and fibrous vegetables for breakfast, a meal normally stocked with simple sugars and other fast-acting carbohydrates. Include those under age 18, and 105 million Americans are harboring a life-threatening blood-sugar disorder. Add in the far more numerous pre-diabetics, and you may be hard-pressed to find anyone with healthy glucose metabolism by the middle of the 21st century. Despite this wretched condition, his mood brightened only when orderlies wheeled in a meal of mashed potatoes (along with chicken) and fruit, both of which quickly convert to glucose in the bloodstream. If that prescription pain med came in the form of a jelly doughnut, rather than a pill, you'd have some idea of the hold sugar had on me during childhood and throughout much of my adult life.



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