Sugar and salt are deadly killers

Over the last 2 decades, Vincentians have experienced a chronic increase
weight and a deadly upward spiral in lifestyle diseases such as diabetes
and hypertension, lung and heart ailments as well as young persons who were forced to remove a leg to preserve their lives.

Over the years Plain Talk has alerted nationals that sickness and death can be avoided if we keep our body hydrated, follow good nutritional practices and make a conscious effort to reduce stress. If we cut the daily intake of
food by half, exercise at least three times per week and drink no less than
40 ounces of water per day, we will be well on our way. A good practice to
adopt is to stop eating anything that comes out of a can. Preserved or
processed are packed with salt and sugar and are sapping our energy and
killing us slowly.

We know that a good and healthy lifestyle is hard to adopt. The popular
culture that drum into our heads that we are going to die anyway because
something will kill us. Those of us who attempt to watch what we eat are
reminded that at best we will die from nothing.

There is a reason we crave overly sweetened and excessively salty foods or
snacks.  And it’s not entirely our fault. Many common snack foods have been
expertly engineered to keep us addicted, almost constantly craving more of
whatever falsely satisfying manufactured treat is in front of us.

Humans have an inherited preference for energy-rich foods like fats and
sugars.  Science has established that natural selection has predisposed us
to foods high in sugar and fat. Food scientists know this and create
ingredients that are far higher in fat and sugar than occur in nature. The
most common such sugar is high-fructose corn syrup which has been proven to
be highly addictive.

Foods that didn’t used to be sweet, like pasta sauce, are now artificially
sweetened to keep consumers craving the product. High-fructose corn syrup
(HFCS) is found in everything from ketchup and salad dressing to cereal and
breads – foods that aren’t necessarily perceived as sweet.

So what’s so bad about HFCS, the ingredient so essential to the aisles of
our supermarket? A tablespoon of the super sweet stuff packs in roughly 53
calories, 14.4 grams of carbohydrates and 5 grams of sugar, while an entire
corn has about 123 calories. It’s much easier to ingest extra, empty
calories when they’re processed down to a sugary additive, which enhances
the flavour of processed foods.

As an ingredient, HFCS was shown in a 2013 study to be as addictive as
drugs, like cocaine or heroin, with salt proven to be similarly addictive,
opioid-like qualities. Australian neuroscientist Craig Smith has studied
the effect of salt cravings in humans for years, concluding that eating
excessive amounts of sodium makes people crave salt more, and those who eat
less junk food can benefit from lower salt cravings and therefore fewer of
the negative effects associated with too much salt consumption.

Even if a food isn’t overly salty, salt may sneak into packaged food more
rampantly than expected. Salt is used as a preservative to give food
extended shelf life and keep food safe. Salt is also be used to enhance a
food’s colour (such as making the crust of bread a more appealing golden
brown), as well as a flavour enhancer in foods we may not associate with

It is universally established and recognized that Salt is extremely
addictive, just as much as sugar. The more you consume salt, the more you
crave it, and food manufacturers realize this. They continue to add salt to
foods because they want us to continue to purchase their products.

It doesn’t matter if the salt is white, pink, sea salt or crystallized – it
all has the same effect on one’s body. Packaging may lead us to think that
certain salts are healthier, but, truly they are all the singular thing
that is bad in excess: Salt.

Beyond overeating in general, eating too much salt is proven to have
negative effects on human health. Eating too much salt is not good for your
health, because the extra water that you hold on to raises your blood
pressure. The more salt you eat, the higher your blood pressure. All of
this can put a strain on our heart, kidneys, brain and arteries, which
could lead to a stroke, heart attack or kidney disease. And yet, we are
becoming increasingly casually addicted to the stuff.

While addictive drugs like cocaine and heroin are illegal, we currently
have no regulations on the amounts of sugar, sweeteners and salt that can
be added to foods available to the public. This reality underlies the
looming public health crises of obesity and related illnesses.

A significant percentage of our people are overweight or affected by
obesity, a condition closely associated with heart disease, stroke, type 2
diabetes, certain types of cancer and premature death. And even armed with
this knowledge, too many of us are regularly lured in by food that is
designed to be hard to resist.

Making items highly palatable is just the beginning. Pumping food full of
sugar to the person with the sweet tooth is what junk food companies strive
for. Sugar releases dopamine, the feel-good hormone in the brain, which
associates the sugary food with pleasure – causing the body to crave more. That
feel-good sensation will keep you hooked on certain foods, which will bring
instant comfort when consumed.

Scent can play a part in the emotional attachment to food. Associating food
with pleasure keeps humans addicted even further to the foods engineered
with excessive sugar, salt and fat to keep you craving more.

How can we stop the growing addiction to food? Choose moderation for foods
that you think could be highly addictive for you. Make sure you are
consuming a well-balanced diet and drinking plenty of fluids, especially
water. When grocery shopping read nutrition labels and avoid foods with
high sodium and sugar content. Truth is nothing that kills is terribly
important. Food, like sex is highly overrated.

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