Word for Wednesday: Sugar

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Sugar, sukere, zucchero, all originate from the Arabic word sukkar, as it was Arabic traders who introduced Europe to this substance. Throughout the medieval period, sugar was considered a luxury, in the same realm as gold. Despite its status as a ‘treasure’, the rise of this sweet, soluble, crystalline, carbohydrate has associations that are not so appetising; it was through slave labour in plantations that sugar became readily available and affordable.

Sugar’ is now a word frequently heard in the western world, usually in the context of excessive consumption and resultant health risks. Sugar is an addictive substance, which initiates a pleasurable dopamine release in the brain. Why are so many of us a guilty of the occasional ‘sugar binge’? Do we really have a sweet tooth? Or are food manufacturers manipulating our brain chemicals, to reinforce our cravings for sugary snacks?

Healthier alternatives to sugar such as artificial sweeteners and natural syrups are a media fixation, however, specialists state that all sugars are bad for us regardless of their form or origin. Sugar substitutes do not “curb a sweet tooth” but instead “send confusing messages to the brain, which can lead to over eating” claims the nutritional therapist, Kerry Torrens.

Think twice before you next reach for your favourite sugar-filled snack!

17 Feb 2016
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