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Sugar addiction is a major topic nowadays. A major public health issue worldwide, and one that has the earliest starting rate ever.

This is alarming and we need to talk. Now.

Is sugar addictive?

Bad for health?

Should I cut if for good or not?

Is it putting my beloved ones and myself on health risk?

Facts running around through the web these days are no secret or different than the information we are constantly getting from our daily medical practice.

We have always known that the major risk factors for health in this century have been related to cholesterol, poor diets and sedentary lifestyle. Which continues to be the case, except with one more added factor:


During the last months and weeks, a major concern has been raising among the health community and all media regarding this topic. It has been studied widely and research shows how sugar is seriously affecting health in ways beyond the ones we’ve known. It goes into deeper levels and into more serious complications involving all the known risks as mentioned before.

Do you know how much sugar do you eat? This is a good first step in order to gain awareness.

This concern on public health has come to the extent of talking about a tax on sugary products as a way of introducing an initial control measure in this uncontrolled sugar journey we are all having. Berkeley, California was the first city un the U.S.A that approved a tax on sugary drinks just last November (2014). This includes a large concern on children’s health regarding sugary foods, as I’ll explain a few lines ahead.


Because sugar is everywhere and people are not being aware of this.

All carbohydrates are ultimately sugar; sugar is a type of carbohydrate with simple chemical structures. During digestion, complex carbohydrates, such as those contained in food such as potatoes, rice and bread, are broken down into the simple chemical structure called glucose that the body uses as energy. Via Mail & Guardian.

Sugar is not only in candies but in bread, carbs, pastries, processed foods and almost every packaged product we get to see and buy at the supermarket such as tomato-based pasta sauce, ketchup, sweetened juices, soft drinks, certain dairy products, tinned soups, ready-to-go teas and coffees, and low fat food as well. Low fat does not mean low sugar.


Everything that seems to make our life easier nowadays as we have busy and rushed lives, is actually making us the unhealthiest and the most disconnected to our bodies ever.


I don’t pretend on any level that we all should go crazy and obsessed with special diets and restrict all sugars. That will certainly be a personal choice, but what I intend here is to create a real concern on this serious and worldwide topic.

As travellers, it affects us even more as lifestyles and good healthy habits can be tricky if you don’t know your body really well or care about what you are eating in every destination.

I am not the perfect parameter as for sugar control because I love sugar and I know I want to keep enjoying it, but I am also aware now that this had to be done wisely and right away.

Crazy diets and obsession is not going to be good for health either, specially to mental/emotional health. We have to avoid the sugar madness there is among the news these days. Instead we need to read, get informed and understand why.

What we need is common sense.

Sugar is everywhere, as I mentioned before. Some of us love it, some others wouldn’t mind cutting it for good. Any choice is valid and it’s okay.

In any case, we need to understand a bit more about sugar.

Sugar comes with many different faces, which makes it tricky to recognise even if you go crazy and anxious about food labels. Avoid doing this.

Sugar present in carbs is the most hidden one…because it’s not sweet. But chemically, carbs break down into sugar when entering the blood stream.

They are saying sugar can be eight times more addictive than cocaine. I don’t have real facts as proved on my own. What I know is that when I start eating sugar, I then go into a whirlwind of cravings, non-stop during days if I’m not able to control it and ration it. Experiments and extended research has been thoroughly made in mice, which shows quite conclusive results on this matter. So, yes, I believe sugar is addictive.

*More on sugar facts:

Worst than an addiction? General health consequences.

It messes your entire chemical axis, both on your blood stream and in your brain. It alters hormones, which relates to anxiety, to hunger and satiety, to feelings. The brain is already quite complex and wonderful and yet sugar makes its way to alter important organic processes within our entire organism, not to mention the harm it makes if being altered on the long run, such as renal, cardiovascular and ocular disease, to the point of severe renal failure, blindness and heart attacks.

Turns out that sugar itself can be more meaningfully harmful all together than just cholesterol alone. The cardiovascular risk is at steak.

And even worst than general health issues? Age.

Childhood: the alarming age in which all this is starting to happen. Just the thought of this makes me scared.

Sugar as a health problem is everywhere, starting at home at very early age and continuing in the classrooms. Again, rushed lifestyle is forcing us to buy easy food and snacks. Packed juices are handy, of course, but packed with sugar.

Children are the main target of the most damaging foods: fast food, junk food, sweet foods. Which makes me wonder: what are we doing? Really, what are we doing? We are not thinking on future health. Many concerned parents out there are certainly doing a good job and making their best effort. The harming fact here is that brands, products or companies are playing with people’s emotions: parents needing to feed their kids, reward them for a good behaviour with a hamburger, pizza or ice cream. How many times a week? How many times per month? This is just not fair. Even marketing has some psychology to be applied here.

And this works like perfection, because the brain functions with a reward system, which is attached to memory which is attached to cravings which is attached to hormone control, which is finally attached to the control of our entire body via chemical substances making us remember and crave the good stuff that we tasted and enjoyed once. The brain remembers this and saves it in the memory album, for next time…which might be sooner than expected. This is a general idea on how an addiction works. Of course without the biochemical and physiologic details of more complex processes inside the body.

Sugar addiction is a concept with many diverse opinions among the scientific community.

The one shared truth among this topic relies on how sugar is today’s major public health problem, involving serious illnesses, chronic complications and alarmingly beginning at young ages like we haven’t seen before.

For more on sugar concern, symptoms and advice, please visit my section the “Smart Sugar Project“.


Image Credit: Google Images.
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Dr. Mariana Calleja

Mariana Calleja is a doctor, writer and entrepreneur. Teaching people healthy habits that stick, and how to manage stress to live a better, healthier, calmer life. Pain management specialist, with a deep story of her own on learning how to heal a personal sexual pain, that would allow her embrace and live a true, meaningful life. (More on the blog.)

Mariana is an absolute advocate of communication, relationships, tackling taboos and digging inner fears for better living. Health is a whole. Mindset, awareness and communication are the key to a good, calm, healthy life.

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