Just how bad is sugar? As addicting as cocaine!

We all know that sugar isn't that good for us, right? It's one of the major reasons for diabetes, a disease that that impacts Latinos almost twice as much as non-Hispanic whites, according to the Office of Minority Health.

I've heard of sugar consumption being linked to other health issues, like obesity and heart disease. New research shows that not only is sugar the cause of obesity, diabetes, cancer and heart disease, but it's really, really difficult to escape your sugar addiction for one very good reason: sugar is as addictive as cocaine.

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According to Dr. Robert Lustig, America needs to go to rehab for sugar addiction. His research proves that sugar causes heart disease and cancer, as well as Type 2 diabetes and obesity. But it's not just sugary drinks and dessert that has our sugar addiction going. It's also sugar being found in everyday foods. Dr. Lustig says:

Take the fat out of food, it tastes like cardboard. And the food industry knew that. So they replaced it with sugar.

Sugar can now be found in food like breads, yogurt, peanut butter and sauces. It's no wonder we're so used to the addictive sweetener. Not only is it in everyday foods but it's hard to quit, since brain scans reveal that sugar causes a euphoric effect that triggers dopamine, the chemical that controls pleasure in the brain, at similar levels to the other white powdery substance.

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So what can we do to about our sugar consumption? Here are a few tips to cut back on sugar:

  1. Cut back gradually: I cut down on my 5-teaspoons-in-my-tea sugar habit by slowly cutting back to 4, 3, 2 until I got used to just having 1 teaspoon in a relatively large cup. Cut back in the same way, by reducing gradually until you take just the minimum or get rid of it all together.
  2. Choose one sugar vice: If you need sugar in your coffee or that sweet treat after lunch, choose one and stick to it. I often like a cookie as a snack at the end of the day, so that means I have to cut back on sugar in my morning brew. Moderation is key, but stick to just one treat a day.
  3. Avoid liquid sugar: You know what this means: cut out sodas! But remember that fruit juices and flavored water is also a bad culprit here. Instead, drink plain water and add a lemon or cucumber if needed for flavor. You can also try sparkling water and herbal iced tea.
  4. Check ALL labels: Remember that yogurt, bread, sauces, jams and even fruit products can have added sugar. If a label says sucrose, corn syrup, cane juice, dextrose, molasses or malted barley extract, then it contains sugar. Try to opt for products that have none or contain limited quantities.

With news that sugar is as addicting as cocaine, do you plan to cut back on your consumption?

Image via Judy**/flickr