How about writing about sugar, Sugar?

Well I’ve written down the trigger – what now? It has been suggested that sometimes all you have to do

Well I’ve written down the trigger – what now? It has been suggested that sometimes all you have to do is start writing the first thoughts that come into your head and before you know it…hey presto, an article! It’s supposed to be helpful when you’re experiencing a bout of writer’s block. Well it seems to me that whoever posed this idea is ‘under a false impression.’ What’s the sweetener?

We were lying in bed luxuriating in the fact that we had nothing on today, including clothes. I was desperately trawling through my half-conscious synapses, trying to think of something to write about. ‘Is an anagram of ‘under a false impression’ too long?’ I mused to myself, ‘must check it out when I get up.’

‘So Sugar, how’s it going?’ said my dear wife, knowing I was struggling with the topic.

‘Abysmal!’ I replied. ‘Sweetheart, I think I might have to take along an old piece to the writer’s group that’s maybe been recycled. With everything going on around us at the moment, I can’t think of a single thing! And it’s my idea for the topic too – how perverse is that?’

‘Well, how about writing about sugar…Sugar?’ She rolled over on her side and gave me that ironic smile of hers. ‘Remember that doco we saw on SBS from the Kiwis? Looks like sugar is set to become the ‘new’ tobacco – aren’t we all under a false impression? This time it’s an insidious substance sweet to the tastebuds but toxic in affect.’ Then she added with a sly smile, ‘A bit like you really.’

‘Effect.’ I corrected, raising a querulous eyebrow.

‘Whatever – don’t be so pedantic! It’s a relevant topic… well, isn’t it?’

‘Yes, I suppose so.’ – I answered reluctantly.

‘So… what’s your problem?’

‘Well it means I’d have to take it seriously and actually do some genuine research – I haven’t done that since I was going to Uni. Even some of the sources I used back then were considered dodgy. Anyway, I haven’t the time. Gotta have it ready for Thursday.’

‘I see… you sweet-talked the boffins at UNE into a false impression.’

I stuck my tongue out at her and she responded in kind. ‘Oh well suit yourself, sweetie. Think I’ll get up and have a coffee – without sugar. Do you feel like a boiled egg?’

I decided she wasn’t being ironic again and answered ‘Yes please’, got up and headed for the shower. Incidentally, the most interesting anagram of under a false impression turned out to be Miss Profuse Adrenaline. That pretty well sums up my partner to a tee – she is always on the go. In the time I’ve written these few paragraphs, she has knocked out a couple of new beaded necklaces for her market stall; washed several cars and cut everyone’s lawn up and down the street! (Sigh!) And as we’ll see, there is a strong correlation between sugar and adrenaline.

Anyway, sugar: It’s supposed to give you energy but research now seems to indicate that as sugar is added to just about every processed food we consume in alarming proportions. That in turn is contributing significantly to dangerous levels of diabetes, obesity and teeth decay in Western society; it’s just a short step away to chronic heart disease, diverticulitis and prostate cancer. Let’s just have a look at what we subsequently had for breakfast. We did have a boiled egg each, so no problem there. Followed by a couple of slices of toast with butter and Vegemite. Each slice of wholemeal grain bread contained about 3.0 grams of sugar amounting to 3%. Each serve of Vegemite is about 5 grams (unless of course you like to slather it on!), containing less than 1 gram of sugar. But each serve contains about 173 mgs or 0.173 grams of salt – another major downer! And forget tinned baked beans on toast: a 220 gram serving yields a vast 9.5 grams of sugar!

Glucose or blood sugar, is one of the most abundant of biomolecules in nature. Human beings ingest glucose in many ways and use the molecule to provide energy to cells. Sugar and starch are both sources of glucose. Adrenaline (or epinephrine to give the scientific name), is a hormone released by the adrenal glands that has an effect on blood concentrations of glucose. The trouble is we’re consuming far too much of it. Quite literally, we’re copping it… sweet! Here’s part of the scientific explanation of diabetes:

Epinephrine causes a prompt increase in blood glucose concentration in the postabsorptive state. This effect is mediated by a transient increase in hepatic glucose production and an inhibition of glucose disposal by insulin-dependent tissues. Epinephrine augments hepatic glucose production by stimulating glycogenolysis and gluconeogenesis. Although its effect on glycogenolysis rapidly wanes, hyperglycemia continues because the effects of epinephrine on gluconeogenesis and glucose disposal persist. Epinephrine-induced hyperglycemia is markedly accentuated by concomitant elevations of glucagon and cortisol or in patients with diabetes…

Just reading that text makes my teeth hurt! Actually, the rest of the text is available here if you’re feeling masochistic enough to read it. Settle back with a coffee and a Tim Tam before you embark on it. Incidentally each Tim Tam contains about 8.3 grams or two teaspoons of sugar.

I think it’s ironic that Australia imported the cane toad in the 1930s to protect sugar cane (another imported plant), from the detrimental effects of the native grey-backed beetle. Indeed, since their release, toads have multiplied swiftly in numbers now in excess of 200 million. They’ve been known to spread diseases affecting local biodiversity. Regrettably, the introduction of the toads has not only caused widespread environmental damage, but there’s no evidence that they have had any impact whatsoever on the cane beetles they were supposed to prey upon. I suppose the greedy boffins at CSR at that time were under a false impression they could control nature – a sweet delusion.

Other ‘human toads’ have made vast fortunes from sugar. In fact the export earnings for the Australian sugar industry is today worth in excess of $2 billion annually and was built quite literally off the backs of South Sea Islanders yet few know the suffering and atrocities that occurred 150 years ago… But that’s another story – not so sweet.

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