The bad news? Sugar addiction has become a huge health crisis in many countries. The good news? You can detox from sugar and still enjoy your favorite treats.
Here’s a quick quiz to test how much you know about sugar. Which statement do you think is true?
A. It’s so important that your body will produce glucose (your brain’s favorite energy source) from fat.
B. It can be poison when refined, concentrated, or overeaten. All of it. Even the sugar from fruit, like that fruit juice concentrate used to sweeten your “fruit snacks.”
C. It’s addictive—probably as addictive as cocaine and heroin and harder to avoid than tobacco or alcohol.
D. It can be enjoyed in moderation, and it’s pure pleasure so go ahead and enjoy from time to time.
E. All of the above
If you answered “All of the Above”, you’re right! Here’s why:
When I decided to go for the body and the life I wanted, sugar was my biggest obstacle. I knew sugar was sabotaging every goal I had for my body and my health. But when I tried to cut sugar completely out of my life because I thought it was totally evil and addictive, I had terrible cravings. As many times as I tried to go cold turkey, I’d only make it about a week or so before I gave into my cravings and binged on something, anything, sweet. There just had to be a lot of it. That much sugar made me feel terrible, literally sick. And then I’d beat myself up over it. My self-esteem was lower than…whatever’s at the bottom of the ocean. My waistline was pretty big, too.
My final attempt to deal with my sugar addiction was successful because I did some research and learned that all of the above was true about sugar. I’ve been using what I learned to help people ever since, and I’d like to share these 4 truths with you today:
Sugar Truth #1: Sugar is Good for Us
“Table” sugar is composed of two linked molecules: glucose and fructose. In the words of Dr. Robert Lustig, a pediatric endocrinologist who is one of the leading proponents of the fact that many of us eat literally poisonous amounts of sugar: “glucose (kind of sweet, and not that much fun), and fructose (very sweet, and a whole lot of fun).”
Glucose is a simple sugar found in plants, and your bloodstream directly absorbs it following digestion. Glucose is a basic building block for all life, from bacteria to large mammals like ourselves to great trees. It’s also your brain’s favorite food. Your brain consumes about 20% of the calories that your body needs for basic maintenance, like digestion and breathing. And your brain prefers to get those calories from glucose. This is why we naturally love sugar: it’s concentrated energy for our most vital organ and foods that are naturally sweet, like fruit, are almost always non-toxic.
Sugar Truth #2: Sugar Can Be Poisonous
Sugar, especially fructose, which is processed only in the liver, used to be extremely rare in the human diet. But now sugar, especially fructose, is a large part of our basic diet. So are refined carbohydrates, like white flour and potatoes (French fries) that the body easily converts to sugar.
To make matters worse, fructose has been hijacked to produce an artificial, super-concentrated sweetener known as “high-fructose corn syrup,” increasingly found in processed foods and beverages—even those considered “healthy”. High intake of high-fructose corn syrup has been linked to obesity and obesity-related disease, such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart attacks, and more. 
Sugar is high-octane fuel and high blood sugar levels cause damage to your body and brain. When you eat anything that can be broken down to sugar, your body produces insulin to process that sugar for your body to use. And because high levels of blood sugar are toxic, your body is designed to store as much of the excess sugar as fat, as fast as it possibly can, rather than burn it as energy. Indeed, the fatter you are, the more blood sugar your fat may store as energy, leaving you hungrier than ever—and craving sugar more than ever.
Overconsumption of sugar coupled with overweight can spell disaster: your cells can become increasingly resistant to insulin, forcing your pancreas to pump out more and more. This both makes it harder to lose the excess weight and ultimately overwhelms and exhausts the pancreas—at which point, your blood sugar can no longer be controlled. This condition is known as type 2 diabetes. But sugar doesn’t just make us fat and develop diabetes. The extra insulin your body secretes due to insulin resistance has been shown to promote tumor growth, or cancer. Another hormone, literally called insulin-like growth factor, also promotes tumor growth. “The cancer story is very early,” says Dr. Lustig, “But we know that sugar drives insulin resistance, and insulin resistance drives cancer,” he told Men’s Journal in an interview.
Sugar Truth #3: Sugar is Addictive
Sugar is genuinely addictive. Sugar lights up the same pleasure receptors in our brains that cocaine does—and in laboratory studies involving rats, the rats tend to prefer sugar and other sweet rewards to cocaine. And the more sugar we eat, the more we have to eat to make our brains feel good. Trying to reduce the amount of sugar in your diet (if you do it the wrong way) can lead to acute cravings—AKA withdrawal symptoms. This is a classic sign of sugar addiction.
Sugar Truth #4: You Can Enjoy Some Sugar
The problem is not the teaspoon of sugar in your coffee. And it’s not the small slice of homemade cake that you occasionally enjoy. The problem of sugar addiction is caused by the excessive amounts of sugar that we are accustomed to eating from processed foods. Once you know how to avoid this sugar (and yes, it’s incredibly hard to find it all!), you will know that you CAN enjoy some sugar without gaining weight or endangering your health.
 Lustig, Robert. (January 2, 2014.) The Sugar-Addiction Taboo. The Atlantic.
 Ha V, Jayalath VH, Cozma AI, Mirrahimi A, de Souza RJ, Sievenpiper JL. (June 22, 2013). Fructose-containing sugars, blood pressure, and cardiometabolic risk: a critical review. Curr Hypertens Rep.
 Ludwig DS, Friedman MI. (May 16, 2014) Increasing Adiposity: Consequence or Cause of Overeating? J Am Med Assoc.
 Taubes, Gary. (April 13, 2011) Is Sugar Toxic? The New York Times Magazine.
 Lustig, Robert. (July 23, 2014) Sugar is the New Tobacco. Men’s Journal.
 Ahmed SH, Guillem K, Vandaele Y. (July 2013). Sugar addiction: pushing the drug-sugar analogy to the limit. Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care.