We are the new sugar slaves Apr29


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We are the new sugar slaves

Excessive sugar

Excessive sugar can cause obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease. Kids will tend to eat what they’re given especially in school which tends to be lots of sugar. Sedentary lifestyles are a problem too. We watch too much TV (because we’ve eaten too much sugar) and don’t get enough exercise (because excessive sugar has sapped our energy!)

Brutal history of sugar and the Cult of Sugar
Sugar cane was first farmed about 10,000 years ago in New Guinea. It was thought to be a kind of elixir, a cure for every ill. Some New Guinea myths depicted the sugar cane as the mother of the human race.
Sugar refinement became a highly skilled art practiced by masters and taught to apprentices. When Arab armies invaded Persia they adopted the art and it spread: “Sugar followed the Koran.”
Sugar was worshipped. The work involved was brutal and captured enemy slaves were put to work in the fields and mills. It is possible that we Europeans first discovered sugar during the Crusades. In the beginning only rich Europeans ate it; it was considered a delicacy much like caviar today. The explorations and discoveries we learn about in school today were motivated by producing sugar cane and finding colonies to grow it with a readily available slave population. Henry the Navigator and Columbus brought cane to newly discovered lands. The age of Big Sugar had dawned.
Slave revolts in Hispaniola were linked to the sugar trade; Portugal used Brazilian slave labour to produce sugar –  and profits. Greater availability decreased prices and the poor started to consume sugar as well as the rich. Ever since, sugar-rich products have been cheap and so attractive. Agricultural exploitation led to environmental degradation in places like Barbados; some reformers argued that consuming sugar was like consuming human flesh because the industry claimed so many lives in plantations.
Throughout the 18th and 19th centuries sugar consumption rocketed and it continues today. Nowadays the average American consumes 22 teaspoons of added sugar a day!

Experts attribute a whole host of diseases to sugar consumption.
Table sugar, or sucrose, is half fructose and half glucose. Importantly, fructose behaves differently in the body to other sugars: it is metabolised partly in the liver so if you eat too much of it liver function is affected. Fats called triglycerides are produced and some of them stay in the liver so over time the liver is damaged. Metabolic syndrome can result which is a kind of pre-diabetes. A food called HFCS (High Fructose corn-syrup) is designed to be consumed in large quantities – and quickly. Some argue that sugar is all calories and not enough nutrition; others say it’s simply a poison.
TV plays a role too; TV is not as good as you think, let’s be honest. The reason you you have to watch it for hours and hours is not due to its high quality; rather, the sugar you consume makes you lazy by sapping your energy. you recuperate on the sofa.

Being Fat
In the Western world being fat is seen as ugly so food companies produce fat-free products but removing the fat leaches much of the taste out so sugar is added to keep it sweet. People eat these “diet” products and feel in control of their weight but probably don’t always check for the sugar content, especially fructose. Do labels categorise the different sugars for you? They should, for the reasons given above with regard to fructose verus other sugars.

So why are we addicted to sugar?

The brain responds to sugar in a similar way to cocaine and heroin. The theory is that apes that could metabolise fructose from fruit best survived at a time when fruit was in short supply. But through evolution we learned to do with very little of it but the huge supply of it means we eat much more than we need. It’s want over need. Oddly, sugar is continuing to rely on slaves for profits except that now it is the consumers and not the plantation workers.

(Source: National Geographic Magazine, August 2013 Article “Sugar Love: A not so sweet story” by Rich Cohen.)