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'Dealing with sugar toxicity - alleviation' - Dr James Muecke AM, 2020 Australian of the Year

Posted on July 10 2020

The following is the eleventh in a series of weekly guest posts from 2020 Australian of the Year, Dr James Muecke. 

About Dr Muecke

56-year-old Dr James Muecke AM is passionate about fighting blindness. His focus is the leading cause of blindness in working age adults – type 2 diabetes – a spiralling epidemic that in some regions of Australia is impacting over one-in-ten people. It's also the fastest growing cause of vision loss in Aboriginal people and the sixth-biggest killer in this country. James wants to challenge our perception of sugar and its toxic impact on the development of type 2 diabetes.

James co-founded Sight For All, a social impact organisation aiming to create a world where everyone can see. Sight For All’s comprehensive and sustainable educational strategies are impacting on the lives of over one million people each year. 

With 80% of world blindness avoidable – and almost 90% in low income countries – James treats blindness as a human rights issue.

This is the eleventh piece in this series, to read the tenth message click here

Dealing with sugar toxicity - alleviation

It’s important to be aware of those times when we’re using sugar to make us feel better or alleviate stress. The brain doesn’t care where it gets its feel-good chemicals from, to balance the cortisol permeating our bodies during anxious times. There are plenty of other options to replace that scoop of ice cream, bar of chocolate or can of soft drink. Going for a walk, run or cycle, listening to your favourite musical playlist, watching a comedy, or doing a good deed, can all make us feel good, through the same internal mechanisms utilised by sugar, alcohol and drugs.

It also helps to be aware of those times when we’re consuming sugar that’s linked to a habit, particularly a pleasurable one such as eating a bag of sugary treats at the movies or a block of chocolate in front of the TV, and definitely avoid snacking on sugar or using it as a reward for a job well done. Why not replace that bowl of sugary treats on the kitchen counter or staff tearoom with a bowl of nuts, or eat an apple instead of drinking a glass of fruit juice (although whole fruit contains fructose, it also contains healthy doses of fibre, vitamins and other goodies)?

It’s easy to nominate now for the 2021 Awards, just complete the online nomination form at

Eager to know more? Click here to read the next blog piece!


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