The Dangers of Sugar and Bone Health: More Addictive Than Cocaine?

osteoporosis and bone health

We all love sugar. No doubt about it. Several studies have now pointed why.

Turns out, just like cocaine and methamphetamine, sugar affects dopamine in your brain. Sugar prompts the release of dopamine in your brain, which is associated with positive experiences.

This explains why we keep coming back for more in an addictive cycle, consuming larger and larger amounts to get the same feeling. [1]

Dr. Robert Lustig a California-based endocrinologist is a leading authority who told CBS’ “60 Minutes” that America is addicted to sugar. He said that, according to brain scans, it’s as addictive as cocaine. [2]

You’ve heard a friend say, or have said yourself, between delicious bites of ‘XYZ Bar’ “I’m addicted to this! I can’t stop eating it.” It’s said in jest,and always gets a laugh.

Though it’s meant as a joke, modern science says that it’s no laughing matter – we have literally become addicted to sugary foods. [3]

6 Costs of Sweetness

But what’s so wrong with something that gives us the feeling of positive experiences?

Weren’t we taught the only downside to sugar was cavities? Not quite. Now we know it increases the likelihood you’ll have:

  • Diabetes
  • Heart issues
  • Acne
  • Depression
  • Cancer
  • Yeast infections
  • Osteoporosis

But why doesn’t osteoporosis make the ‘Top 6’ list (that came up repeatedly on Google searches)?

Maybe because sugar’s effect on your bone health is covered by skin, so not as noticeable. Therefore it doesn’t seem as ‘mediagenic’ for the press to report?

True, it can take years for sugar to thin your bones. But an old expression applies here: “a constant drip will hollow a stone”. And sugar is the drip, drip, drip that hollows your bones- faster than water will to rock.

Sugar increases and accelerates the size of bone “withdrawals” you make through your whole adult life.

After middle age we all lose about 1% of bone per year. Sugar increases that number so that your account of bone becomes “bankrupt” at a younger age.

When you withdraw more bone than you create for a long enough period of time, you get osteoporosis.

Your decline in bone mass is less noticeable than acne for instance, yet far more costly. Because osteoporosis leads to bone fractures, which make you sedentary, and that invites a whole host of complications.

For example, pneumonia and blood clots in the leg veins travel to the lungs (pulmonary embolism) due to prolonged bed rest after a fracture.

In fact, the 6 month mortality rate from osteoporosis, and the complications that result is 13.5%! [4]

How Sugar Affects Your Bone Health?

You may be wondering how exactly does sugar affect your bones?

We’ve been led to believe that as long as we get enough calcium we will be fine.

We were told for the last 30 years that regular calcium consumption is the only maintenance we need to do for our skeleton.

But the countries that have the highest calcium and sugar consumption rates also have the highest rates of osteoporosis! Which leads to the obvious conclusion that calcium alone is not the solution – and sugar may be part of the problem.

Sugar negatively affects your bones by increasing glucose levels in your cells. Because it happens faster than your cell’s oxygen levels increase, it leads to incomplete oxidation of the glucose. This forms acids, which as the word implies, acidifies the body.

When you become acidic, (as opposed to alkaline) your body automatically reacts by pulling calcium from your bones, as it alone is able to buffer your acidic blood. It’s an unfortunate case of borrowing from Peter to pay Paul that inevitably leaves your bones in a compromised, hollow state.

Sugar- A Naughty Stripper

On top of sugar causing calcium to be leached from your bones, it also strips your body’s stores of magnesium. Sugar is a double whammy because it lowers magnesium (and calcium) absorption and increases excretion of both through the urine.

Why The Sudden Sugar Fuss?

But why does sugar seem suddenly a crisis? Haven’t refined sugars been mass produced for generations, and our grandparents grew up on foods with it? And they didn’t get osteoporosis in epidemic amounts like today?

Yes and yes – but the big difference is the amount of sugar we eat today, and how that amount is only increasing every year.

It makes sense from what we’ve learned about the addictive nature of sugar. One of the hallmark traits of an addictive substance is that we must consume more and more just to achieve the same high from it.

We now eat in 7 hours what our ancestors in 1822 ate – in 5 days. That is a 20x increase! [5]

It’s better to know the enemy at the gate – and make no mistake, sugar is the enemy of bone health and active healthy longevity.

Ask yourself, are you willing to trade a sugar high for brittle bones?

If you’re unable to kick the sugar, make sure to balance it with a exercise, a diet high in calcium rich foods and a calcium supplement that’s proven to reverse bone loss.


Sources:

  1. ^ Avena, Nicole M.; Rada, Pedro and Hoebel, Bartley G. “Evidence for sugar addiction: behavioral and neurochemical effects of intermittent, excessive sugar intake”. Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews, 2008;32(1):20-39. Epub 2007 May 18.
  2. ^ http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-18560_162-57407294/is-sugar-toxic/
  3. ^ Avena NM, Hoebel BG. A diet promoting sugar dependency causes behavioral cross-sensitization to a low dose of amphetamine. Neuroscience. 2003;122(1):17-20. PMID 14596845.
  4. ^ Hannan EL, Magaziner J, Wang JJ, et al. (2001). “Mortality and locomotion 6 months after hospitalization for hip fracture: risk factors and risk-adjusted hospital outcomes”. JAMA 285 (21): 2736–42. doi:10.1001/jama.285.21.2736. PMID 11386929.
  5. ^ http://wholehealthsource.blogspot.ca/2012/02/by-2606-us-diet-will-be-100-percent.html

More Articles:

Study Shows Your Bones Regulate Blood Sugar and Weight
Is Sugar Driving The Development of Chronic Disease?

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Michael Dewey

About Michael Dewey

Michael is AlgaeCal’s Editor in Chief, and was born in Toronto, Ontario. He is responsible for most of AlgaeCal’s writing material such as blog posts, and you might recognize his face from the AlgaeCal newsletters as well. Outside of work, Mike pursues both sporting and creative pursuits. He enjoys beach volleyball, cycling hockey, baseball and snowboarding, but also uses digital technology to compose his own music; merging and stacking layers of instruments and vocals, one-by-one, to make a full band sound.

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