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Sugar detox(?) How to satisfy sugar cravings without harming your health?

Sugar - once a source of energy necessary for survival, today - a threat to health.

Our ancestors were hunters and gatherers, sugar was one of the fastest sources of energy for them. They found it in fruits, vegetables and sugar cane stalks. They learned how to process it, evaporate it, and crystallize it, and we've had access to it ever since. The problem is that we still have the bodies and brains of people from thousands of years ago, while living in a high-tech world. Calories that were once essential for survival are now a widespread public health threat. Sugar is responsible for obesity, diabetes, heart disease or cancer. But are we sure it's just sugar's fault? Let's take a closer look at this problem.

According to the WHO, in 2014, globally 39% of the adult population was overweight and 13% was obese. Additionally, 18% of children aged 5-19 were overweight and 7% were obese. As for our country, according to the 2019 National Health Service report. "Sugar, Obesity, Consequences," three in five Poles are overweight and one in four is obese. The predictions are not optimistic-it is estimated that in 2025, 26% of women and 30% of men will be obese.

Mechanism of action of sugar

What is the mechanism of action of sugar? How does it affect the body? To understand this, it is necessary to explain what insulin is, a hormone that plays a major role in the metabolism of carbohydrates, as well as proteins and fats. In addition, it is involved in regulating the level of glucose in the blood. The most important stimulus for its secretion is the increase in blood glucose that occurs after eating a meal. When you eat an apple, blood glucose levels rise gently. In addition to sugar, fiber, water, and many macronutrients are absorbed. Pure sugar is instant energy, followed by a spike in insulin, and in a moment, insulin drops below baseline levels, making the feeling of hunger stronger.

Insulin is a hormone that tells the body what to do with sugar and gives a signal to the cells to use it. Once these are satiated, they store the energy as fat. If insulin stays high all the time, the cells become resistant to it-the pancreas throws out even more insulin for the cells to respond-unfortunately, at some point even this doesn't work. The frequent supply of sugar in the form of sugary snacks, processed foods, and sweetened beverages requires the release of more and more insulin to respond to the excess glucose in the body. At some point, the body becomes resistant to it and the cells stop responding to insulin.Then you have type 2 diabetes.Your cells are unable to take up the fuel.

Hidden sugar

It would seem that we are consuming less and less sugar because we are buying less of it in its pure form. However, the opposite is true, as sugar consumption in the form of sugary snacks and drinks and in prepared foods has increased significantly. This is confirmed by the aforementioned report; between 2008 and 2017, the average amount of sugar consumed by one Polish inhabitant increased by 6.1 kg, despite a significant decrease in the consumption of unprocessed sugar, purchased directly by households (it fell by 5.7 kg in this period). The observed increase results from an increase in consumption of sugar as an ingredient of other food products by nearly 11.8 kg. Sugar is added to up to three quarters of foodstuffs under nearly 60 names. Dextrose, fructose, sucrose and anything with the suffix -ose is a form of sugar.

Sugar makes you happy

For years, scientists have been trying to create something that can replace sugar. It would give people similar sweetness

and pleasure, but without the unnecessary calories. This is how aspartame and other sugar substitutes were created, much sweeter and low in calories. Unfortunately, no sweetener can replace the magical property of sugar-satisfaction. Sugar acts on the same part of the brain as sex and drugs, the reward center

in the brain. Consuming sugar affects the production of dopamine, so consuming it literally makes you happy. However, this mechanism eventually begins to fail, because as with any addiction, the body's tolerance to the ingredient increases and makes us reach for it more often

and take it in larger quantities.

It is the dose that makes the poison

It is important to remember that sugar is not a poison itself. It all depends on the dose - it is the excessive amount in the diet that makes it poison. The problem is large, constantly supplied amounts of sugar, which disrupt the functioning of the endocrine system responsible for all processes in the human body. First, take care of a well-balanced diet without excess sugar. Secondly, you should remember about regular meal times and choose what tastes good to you, but at the same time is wholesome. Fighting a war with one ingredient is pointless. because it is impossible to maintain a diet that makes you unhappy.


1.Robert K. Murray, Daryl K. Granner, Peter A. Mayes, Victor W. Rodwell: "Harper's Biochemistry," PZWL Medical Publishers, 2000.

2.National Health Fund, "Sugar, obesity, consequences," Warsaw, 2019.

3.The First WHO Global report on Diabetes, Geneva, 2016.

4.Klosiewicz-Latoszek L., Cybulska B. "Sugar and the risk of obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease", Probl Hig Epidemiol, 2011.

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