• Sumo

If we could point as a society to everything that’s causing health problems, there’s no doubt that we’d be staring right at sugar and taking it to task for the world we deal with on a daily basis. A lot of issues come about as a result of sugar’s stranglehold on our lives, but it’s not without some blame squarely on us. But I’m getting ahead of myself just a bit. So, let’s sit down and think long and hard about the cause of- and solution to- all of life’s problems. Let’s talk about sugar.

All we have to do to remember how little importance sugar has in our body is to take a look at either the current or past food pyramids. Where is sugar? All the way at the top in the “please don’t eat this very often” food group. That alone should remind us that while it can indeed be eaten, it’s not even close to be a staple of a necessary diet, so reliance on it does us no good.

Still, we can’t help but find the allure as it makes a lot of foods taste so much better, and in small doses there’s nothing wrong with it at all. One solution a lot of people have turned to is sugar substitutes, though there are just as many problems with those, if not more so. Pure sugar is sweet and tasty and a little bit goes a long way. The problem is when we can’t stand just a little bit and decide we need a lot more. And yes, the key word is “decide” there.

Even so, the really tough part of sugar is figuring exactly how much is too much and if it has a serious consequence by itself. We all assume that sugar plays a hugely negative part in causing people to become obese and develop diabetes, but that’s not entirely true. Studies have been performed again and again and what they’re finding is that there isn’t a real link between the two. Essentially, sugar is high in empty calories, the type that can make you fat when consumed in vast quantities, so eating tons and tons of sugar can make you fat as foods that are high in sugar tend to be junk food by nature. Excessive weight gain can lead to further complications, like diabetes, but the sugar itself isn’t the real problem.

There’s also a huge myth that involves the notion that sugar will make you awake and excited. Sugar can provide energy in short bursts and so small amounts of it get used up immediately. Kids who devour tons of sugar though won’t actually begin to act any more hyper than they already were as sugar just isn’t caffeine. It’s just not a stimulant. Sugar is the quick and dirty fuel sources your body uses, and when you aren’t using them, your body stores them in fat cells. This is where the weight gain occurs as eating a ton of foods high in sugar and then not exercising will result in more and more sugar needing to get stored away. And by the way, the same applies for carbs as excess carbs are converted into- you guessed it- sugar.

Now, I’m not here to say that sugar is good for you by any means. It contains a very small perfect of riboflavin, as well as iron, calcium, and potassium, it isn’t a food that has much nutritional value. It doesn’t even really convert into other simple uses as it’s sticky and gummy. But it’s also delicious and a cookie now and again (or a whole cake on my birthday and shut up because it’s my birthday and I’ll eat the whole cake if I want to) are not the problem with sugar. The problem is not knowing when to say you’ve had enough, not working off the sweets, and not filling the majority of your diet with foods high in nutritional value.

So don’t beat yourself up the next time you find yourself half way through a brownie or spoon-deep into a bowl of Lucky Charms. Your body can take a splurge here and there. Just don’t make it the cornerstone of your diet. If vegetables are LEGO bricks, then sugary foods are playing cards. Which would you build a house out of?