How Starbucks is turning America into a nation of addicts

It’s that time of year when everyone wants in on a piece of the pie – pumpkin, that is.

And, of course, the biggest part of this trend is Starbucks’ Pumpkin Spice Latte (or, as it’s known by Starbucks junkies, “PSL”).

Starbucks proudly boasts the PSL is its most popular seasonal beverage of all time. In fact, there’s such a big frenzy every fall when the PSL returns to Starbucks’ menu, people treat it like a national holiday. The Tweets, GIFs, memes, and knock-offs are everywhere you look.

It’s become a cultural phenomenon. But not in a good way.

Here’s the reality: A 16 oz. PSL with 2% milk topped with whipped cream has 380 calories, 14 grams of fat, and 50 grams of sugar.

I think I got diabetes just writing that sentence.

So now that you know what you’re getting, let’s take an in-depth look at what happens to your body after you drink one of these monstrosities.

First, the 50 grams (that’s 12 teaspoons, by the way) of sugar cause your blood sugar to spike sharply. At the same time, the caffeine triggers your adrenal glands to release epinephrine, which raises blood pressure, compromises your microcirculation, and spikes your blood sugar even higher by releasing the <a href=””>“stowaway sugar” stored in your liver.</a> (Perhaps Starbucks should hand out 2 capsules of Glucynergy with each PSL it sells to help people keep their blood sugar levels from going haywire. Just a thought.)

After about 20 minutes, your pancreas starts secreting insulin. The insulin attempts to break down all that sugar into glucose that can be stored and used for energy later on. But if your cells are already full of glucose, the extra sugar gets rejected. The rejected sugar turns into triglycerides (a specific — and dangerous — type of fat) in your liver.

Meanwhile, anything that’s left over simply remains in your bloodstream, where it wreaks havoc on your body in a nonstop cycle.

Who said sugar doesn’t kill?

This is not a pretty picture of the PSL so far…But wait — it gets worse.

After an hour, the PSL’s diuretic effects will kick in and you may have to find a bathroom — quick.

At the same time, your appetite is likely to come roaring back. (The caffeine in the PSL suppresses it — but only for a little while.) This double-whammy effect does nothing but slow down your metabolism in the long run.

Plus, if you drink a PSL later in the day, keep in mind the caffeine can stay in your system for hours. Which can be a big problem when it comes to getting the sleep your body needs to stay healthy.

And just so you know, once you’ve taken the first sip, it’s hard to stop. Research has shown sugar and caffeine light up the same pleasure centers in the brain that heroin and cocaine do.

This why I believe sugar needs to be treated like the addictive <a href=””>gateway drug</a> it really is. Until then, we will never win the war on diabesity.

Case in point: Right now I am looking out the window of my office directly into a Starbucks where people are lined up out the door. I wonder what they’re getting…

Do yourself, your waistline, and your blood sugar a favor. Skip the Starbucks’ line. If you really have a craving for a PSL, make yourself a healthier version at home.

Try this instead:

  • 1/2 cup of brewed organic coffee*
  • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 tablespoon of grass fed butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/8 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon of organic pumpkin puree
  • 5 drops of liquid stevia (or 1/2 packet)

Combine all ingredients in blender and puree until frothy. (*Opt for decaf if you’re drinking it in the afternoon or if you’re sensitive to caffeine.)


Pumpkin Spice Latte – A Healthier Version of the Starbucks Favorite