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Is your sweet tooth worse for you than an ash-filled lung?

Picture this: You’re sitting in your office, enjoying a small bag of chocolate chip cookies, gazing out into the office courtyard where several of your co-workers are relishing their cigarette break. You think to yourself how unhealthy smoking is and congratulate yourself for not being addicted to such a harmful and damaging addiction... as you continue to eat those cookies one after another.

While you are certainly improving your health by avoiding cigarettes, what you may not know is that several medical researchers would consider your snack a dangerous addiction. Dr. Robert Lustig, famous for his Sugar: The Bitter Truth YouTube presentation, consider sugar so "harmful that it should be regulated like alcohol and tobacco."

It may very well be that the sugar in those delicious cookies you were ingesting is actually a toxin to the body that's related to numerous health issues.

It has already been well established in medical literature that when eaten in excess, sugar causes tooth decay and can lead to diabetes and obesity. What has gotten less media attention is that sugar intake has also been associated with increasing incidences of heart disease, cancer and other chronic illnesses.

If that is not enough to scare you from finishing that bag of chocolate chip cookies, here are a few other well documented reasons for throwing those last few cookies into the trash: 

5 Reasons to Avoid Sugar Consumption

  1. Sugar is just empty calories. It contains no protein, no essential fatty acids, no vitamins and no minerals. If eaten to the detriment of other nutrient rich foods, it can cause nutritional deficiencies.
  2. Sugar is extremely addictive. It works on the opioid system in the brain that produces pleasurable sensations. The more sugar you eat, more of the neurotransmitter, serotonin, is produced and the better you feel and the more you crave. It becomes a never-ending cycle.
  3. Sugar spikes blood sugar levels rapidly after eating. The body senses this increase and secretes the hormone, insulin, which quickly tries to get the sugar into the cells, out of the blood stream where it can cause problems. The glitch with this mechanism is that insulin can do such a good job that you can develop low blood sugar making you hungry again causing you to eat again, gaining weight in the process.
  4. Eating or drinking too much sugar slows down the immune system to a crawl. Studies have found that sugar reduces white blood cells in your body that are responsible for engulfing harmful invaders like viruses and bacteria by about 40 percent. This effect can last up to five hours after eating sugar and if you are continuously eating sugar during the day you are definitely increasing your risk of infection.
  5. Added sugar intake increases heart disease mortality among U.S. adults. In recent studies, researchers have shown why this might be the case. Apparently the small dense LDL particles (the bad cholesterol every one talks about in relationship to heart disease) are increased by eating sugary foods. Dr. Dariush Mozaffarian, the Dean of the Gerald J. and Dorothy R. Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University, in an interview with NPR stated that "we have learned that carbohydrates (sugars) are not neutral. Carbohydrates worsen glucose and insulin and have negative effects on blood cholesterol."

Although food companies would like you to believe that eating sugar really does not matter and everything in moderation is good for you, the truth is that too much sugar can be very detrimental to your health.

Is it as bad as cigarettes? Definitive studies have yet to be done but with all the documented damaging effects listed above... would you want to take the risk?

Sources: Jama Internal Medicine, Huffington Post

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