October is approaching rapidly, and the start of fall heralds the beginning of what I like to call Six Sugar Months. We celebrate the season with Halloween treats, candy corn, and pumpkin pie. By December, we are indulging in heavy cakes and peppermints. Candy hearts and red-hots help warm up our February, and we have jelly beans and chocolate rabbits to last us easily into mid-April.
Our Sugar Problem
America has a sugar problem. It’s not just the fact that candies and sweets are part of our festivities at all parts of the year. Globally, many cultures share that. The sugar problem in America stems from how deeply ingrained sugar consumption has become in our country. We just don’t seem to know when to say ‘when’.
Though we can and should implicate some of our social constructs here- advertising, and the overall mindset America holds on food, the sugar molecule itself is really to blame. Studies have shown that sugar is a deeply addictive substance. It changes our brain chemistry, and we begin to prioritize sugar over other, healthier foods on a physiological level. Consistently high levels of sugar intake have been linked to behavioral problems in children, mood disorders in adults, and even dementia in the elderly.
Excess sugar is bad
Sugar wreaks havoc on our bodies as well as our brains. The most easily identifiable side effect of our nation’s decidedly sweet diet is obesity. Sugar contains calories, yes, but more importantly, it changes how our bodies process the food we eat. Extra sugar in our diets has been shown to cause fat retention, trick our brains into thinking we have not eaten enough, and then remind us that we are still hungry. These changes are all complex chemical and hormonal changes that make sugar the leading cause of obesity and a huge factor in the development of diabetes.
Sugar also destroys our teeth. When we eat sugar, the bacteria in our mouths eat it too! The bacteria then produce an acid from the sugar. This process takes less than half a minute and the acid lingers in your mouth for up to a half hour. This is why candy has an especially serious effect on our teeth. The longer it takes us to consume sugar, the longer the acid from bacteria eats away at our teeth. Lollipops, hard candies, suckers, and jawbreakers are all sure to send you running to your local dentist with some serious decay to address.
The scientific arguments against excess sugar intake are growing in breadth, validity, and public awareness. The mindset behind our sugar intake, however, is the real killer. We need to adopt a more balanced perspective on sugar intake and start being mindful of our health, or our overall health as a nation will continue to suffer.
About the Author: Freelance writer, Benjamin Muskal, contributed this article on behalf of Clarksville dentists, Parmar Family & Cosmetic Dentistry.