I recently found out some disturbing information about the impact of sugar on health. I thought I’d share this bit of news with my audience because sugar really seems to be wreaking havoc in America, and the solution is rather simple; avoid refined sugar.
And of course people are going to say “I know, I know, you do not have to tell me sugar is bad, I already know.” Well if so many people already know sugar is bad, why is the average daily consumption of sugar among American adults 80g of added sugar (equates to 20 tsp of sugar) and for children 128g of added sugar (equating to 32 tsp of sugar)?
I encourage you to read this article to catch some of the latest news about sugar and how you can tweak your life and the life of your family members to avoid one of the deadly pits Americans keep falling into.
What Is Added Sugar?
Before we get into things, let's quickly go over what exactly is an added sugar.
Added sugars are any sugary substance that is added to a food during the manufacturing process. This means that fruit does not have added sugar because all the sugars in them are put there by nature. Natural sweeteners, like honey, are generally better than refined sugar, but all added sugars should be limited in consumption. Below is a short list of added sugars:
Table Sugar aka Beet Sugar
High Fructose Corn Syrup and Corn Syrup
Organic Cane Sugar
Real Maple Syrup
You may be surprised to see juice concentrates listed above. Consider this, isn't it really hard to eat 5 apples in a row, right? But juice gets rid of the fiber and concentrates the sugar found in fruits so that the juice of 5 apples now fit in an 8oz glass that you can drink really fast and want more afterwards. That means you got the sugar of 5 apples in your body in one sitting. Juice concentrates, which are used to make 100% juice are really a clever way to add sugar to foods without the consumer knowing it.
How Much Added Sugar Should A Person Consume Everyday?
The American Heart Association recommends that individuals who eat a healthy well-balanced diet should eat no more than half their discretionary calories in added sugars every day. This basically means:
Men: No more than 150 calories per day from sugar (about 36g or 9 teaspoons of sugar) Women: No more than 100 calories per day from sugar (about 6 teaspoons or 24g of sugar)
For children ages 1-8 this computes to about no more than 66 calories per day (about 4 teaspoons or 16g of sugar). At about age 11, children’s maximum sugar in-take can be about the same as an adult.
These recommendations are way way way lower than the average daily in-take of about 80g of sugar found among adult Americans today. Now if you have high blood pressure, diabetes, cancer, or any type of chronic disease, you probably should consume much less sugar than that.
“But I Do Not Eat That Much Added Sugar”, Some May Say
Obviously there are some super health conscious people out there who really make sure to not eat a lot of sugar, but this is very rare in our country. Most people eat about 80g of sugar a day and some people eat even more than that.
How is this happening? I created a simple chart below to show you how easy it is to eat 80g of sugar a day or more.
Adult Fiber One Cereal – 12g sugar per cup Coffee – 1sp of sugar = 4g (add up how much sugar you use) 12oz Coke with lunch - 30g sugar Granola bar for snack – 12g sugar 100% Apple juice with dinner – 24g sugar per cup Ice Cream for dessert - 14g sugar per ½ cup serving Total = 96g of sugar in one day
Children Fruit Loops Cereal – 12g sugar per cup Fruit Punch with breakfast – 30g sugar per cup Chocolate milk with lunch – 24g sugar per cup Fruit Roll-up for snack – 11g sugar 100% Apple Juice with dinner – 24g sugar per cup Ice cream for dessert – 14g sugar per ½ cup serving Total = 115g of sugar in one day
I hope you can digest that it is not hard to surpass 80g of sugar without even thinking about it.
And let me mention that I did not include all the food items that typically have added sugar in them, like most salad dressings, syrups (Aunt Jemima is basically High Fructose Corn Syrup), ketchup, jelly, BBQ sauce (as high as 15g of sugar per serving), etc.
Nor did I mention candy bars, which can easily have 20g of sugar in one bar.
I also want you to take from the chart above that with just one 12oz soda you can hit the American Heart Association’s maximum for the adult.
And that is for an adult. A child shouldn’t even drink a whole 12oz soda in one day. Nor should they be drink a whole glass of Kool Aid fruit punch or a whole pouch of Caprisun in one day either. These things are something to really think about and consider.
So why is consuming a lot of sugar bad?
There are a plethora of reasons I can give as to why excess sugar is bad. I will just give one of the most shocking, at least shocking to me.
Sugar makes you fat…Say Whaaat?? Lets first begin by saying that according to Dr. Robert Lustig, a researcher who has linked sugar consumption with obesity, the main culprit behind why added sugar is so bad is because our bodies do not easily metabolize (ie breakdown) fructose, in fact he says the liver mainly stores excess fructose as fat. This is a pretty interesting finding, that excess fructose basically turns to fat in the body. Here are some quotes from an interview Lustig had with Oprah on the topic:
“The fructose in it gets turned into liver fat, which can prevent the liver from processing insulin properly. This may lead to insulin resistance and metabolic syndrome, which puts you at greater risk for type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and stroke.”
“When we eat a lot of sugar, liver fat accumulates and our body releases insulin to compensate. Higher insulin levels promote fat storage, which can lead to obesity and a host of other, potentially lethal, diseases.”
“Studies indicate that when we produce excess insulin as a result of our high-sugar diets, the insulin prevents leptin, a hormone that helps control appetite, from telling our brain that we've taken in enough energy. So in our head, we think we're hungry long after we're actually full. And we don't crave just any food—we go for the tasty stuff that's high in fat and sugar. It's a vicious cycle. Leptin resistance is what keeps people obese.”
So basically according to Lustig, the liver turns excess fructose into fat, and this in turn promotes more insulin production, which leaves you susceptible to a whole bunch of deadly diseases. Also excess fructose consumption messes with your hormones so that you can have cravings for non-healthy foods when you don’t need them, which makes you eat even more sugar.
Oh but I am skinny, so I don’t have to worry about fructose issues
Think again my friend. What I have not mentioned yet is that when the liver turns excess fructose into fat, it normally turns it into fat around the organs, which may not be visible. This means you can be of normal weight and still have a fat liver, which will still put you at risk for diabetes and heart disease. Here is a quote from health leader Dr. Hyman:
“A surgeon friend of mine recently told me that even in people of normal weight, he found belly’s full of fat – caked around their colon, liver, kidneys, and draped over all of their organs. This is caused by our industrial diet full of high-fructose corn syrup, added sugars, trans-fats, flour, and processed food.”
Yes, its true, you can be skinny on the outside and fat on the inside : O! And apparently this type of fat (excess fat around the organs) puts a skinny person more at risk for dying than an obese person.
In America, diabetes is increasing amongst older adults and younger adults alike. A 2008 study found that 23% of people between the ages of 12-19 were either diabetic or pre-diabetic. This does not include the huge amount of people who have undiscovered diabetes. But basically, 1 out of 4 people in this age group has some form of diabetes.
What is even more surprising is that the study found that 13% of kids that had normal weight were either diabetic or pre-diabetic. That could mean that 1 out 10 kids can be skinny and have some form of diabetes. Increasingly kids, even normal weight kids, are getting high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol and other terrible health conditions that people do not normally get until they are 60 years old. Moreover Dr. Hyman suggests that about 40% of adults who have high blood pressure have a normal body weight.
It really is time to change our thinking. Being skinny does not give you a license to eat whatever you want. A healthy body goes beyond being skinny. Constantly spiking your blood sugar by consuming excess sugar, especially fructose, will leave you prey to all kinds of crippling and even deadly diseases and conditions like heart disease, cancer, and diabetes.
How To Apply This To Your Life
I hope you can see that this is a big issue. Over consuming sugar has serious consequences for both the young and the old. Do you really want to set yourself up and your child to have the same heart pressure of a diseased 60 year old, or to develop pre-diabetes in their youth?
My solutions are not necessarily to kick sugar to the curb, you can do
that if you want and many people say you should do so. I do admit sugar
does make food more tasty and enjoyable, but just don’t overdue it. And
if you are sick with a chronic disease or have high blood pressure or
are overweight, you should eat way way less sugar than a healthy person,
because sugar has already been thoroughly proven to feed diseases like
cancer and exasperate other health conditions. Below are some easy things you can do to reduce your sugar consumption today.
1. Reduce your intake of sugary drinks to one glass a day or less. This includes 100% juice. Dr. Lustig and many other doctors point out that drinks containing a lot of sugar are one of the main culprits that causes us to consume too much sugar and also consume too many calories. 100% juice, like orange juice is healthier than soda, but even that should be drunk in moderation because of all the sugar it contains. According to Dr. Lustig's findings, the body will still metabolize the sugar from juice the same way it does in soda, causing a spike in your blood sugar and turning any excess fructose into fat. That’s why diabetics especially should be careful with consuming too much juice.
2. Be aware of serving size
Three Oreos have 14g of sugar in them, that’s a lot!
3. Read food labels
It is unfortunate in today's world that if you do not read food labels then you are going to become a victim. It is a sad reality that we all have to face. If you don't already do so, read food labels. If sugar is in the first three ingredients don’t eat or drink that regularly. Make those types of things a treat to eat 1-2 times a week or less. This may even mean you can’t eat your favorite cereal, BBQ sauce or salad dressing all the time or drink your favorite juice everyday : (
4. Try to avoid refined sugar and use natural sweeteners instead
Amazingly, when eaten in moderation, natural sweeteners like unheated honey, molasses, stevia, and real maple syrup (not Aunt Jemima!) can have health benefits.
5.Use sugar to make nutrient rich foods taste better, not for drinking zero nutrient drinks
Adding a little honey to your oatmeal, smoothie, or tea can be ok since these foods are super rich in beneficial nutrients. Drinking 100+ calories of sugar filled drinks or eating a bunch of cookies has no benefit beyond the taste buds.
6. Homemade smoothies are better than 100% Juice
If you want to give your child a special treat, make a homemade smoothie instead of giving them juice. Smoothies made with fruit and vegetables like spinach and kale are great ways to encourage kids to consume more fruit and veggies. For some smoothie ideas check out this post --> http://turtlecreekstore.weebly.com/recipe-corner
7. What about articial sweeteners like Aspartame or Equal?
As for me, I avoid them, but to explain why is a whole other topic
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Have you noticed the adverse affects of sugar on your life? Or Do you have any ideas on how to avoid sugar? Comment below!