I had just finished speaking to an audience about how our diet promotes many diseases, including dementia. I had stayed at the speaker’s podium after most of the listeners had left when a dear friend, who had been waiting patiently until everyone left, told me about something she wanted to keep secret. To preserve her privacy, I will call her ‘Jane’.
She told me she was so addicted to sugar that she had joined a group formed to treat people with sugar addiction. And she had been attending meeting of this group for years. And she had been hiding her addiction from her friends for these years.
This news did not shock me as many people share her addiction; it’s why sugar is so hard to take out of the diet. I share her addiction to sugar: It was only my obvious obesity that forced me so many years ago to completely eliminate it from my diet. (helping me to lose 100 pounds – I often marvel that there are many slim people who weigh about a hundred pounds – I have lost a slim person worth of fat by avoiding sugar!!!).
I still, at times, open the refrigerator and look in and I know what I am searching for. Sugar!! I look, even though I know there is no sugar there because I have already eliminated all sugar-sweetened foods and beverages from my home. I think my sugar craving is a sign of addiction.
The sugar I am avoiding is fructose or fruit sugar, naturally present in many natural foods in small amounts that we easily tolerate. Glucose, a sugar better tolerated by the body, gives little sweetness to foods or beverages and is not our concern. Our concern arises because farmers have bred large amounts of fructose into many fruits and food manufacturers have purified it and added it to treats because of fructose’s ability to sweeten these fruits and treats. We react to this higher concentration of fructose because most of us have genes that poorly tolerate this increased concentration (See Retaining the Mind). This poor tolerance gives fructose, in table sugar, honey and other sweets, the power to hurt us badly. In excess, it acts like a poison and promotes common illnesses such as obesity, stroke, myocardial infarction and dementia.
Now, back to my discussion with Jane: I regretted that she kept her addiction secret. Many people, including me, suffer this addiction. Her experience could have helped us sugar-addicted take the brave step she took to control this unhealthy sugar addiction. Maybe her story will help you face your addiction.
You should find value in one other aspect of my discussion with Jane. I will tell you about it in my next blog, ‘Brain Fog and Dementia’.