Heyya! Teresa here. Today we are going to talk about SUGAR. We all love it, maybe a little too much. Cutting it out, or at least back, can be a lot easier said than done; but woah buddy, is it important that we do!
According to the American Heart Association, adult males should consume no more than 36 grams (9 teaspoons) and females no more than 25 grams (6 teaspoons) of added sugar each day. However, studies show that Americans consume an average of 82 grams (19.5 teaspoons) of added sugar each day.
That’s a lot of sugar! The effects of a sugar-heavy diet are long lasting and detrimental to our health.
Let’s Define Sugar
The food industry is getting increasingly stealthy when it comes to packing sugar into our diets. It’s in everything. Bread, cereal, condiments, crackers… Take time to read labels next time you’re at the store and you’ll be surprised where you’ll find sugar hiding!
When looking at food labels, identifying just how much sugar something contains can be more of a challenge than you might think.
As general rule of thumb, if it ends in “-ose” it’s sugar.
Glucose. Lactose. Sucrose. Fructose.
But we aren’t just talking about “sugar” or “cane sugar” or any of the “-ose” words listed above that you might see on the packaging. The food industry has a plethora of terms they use for sugar.
Here’s a quick list I grabbed of the different names the food industry uses to disguise sugar when listing their ingredients:
Now, you might be wondering why the food industry would use so many names for essentially the same thing. It’s simple though, really.
The food industry by law must list all ingredients on the label, and list them in order of prominence. If they can list several different types of sugar, those show up further down the list.
Something else that’s important to note here is that it’s not just sugar that’s wreaking havoc on your body. The way our bodies process certain carbohydrates is nearly identical to the way it processes sugar. When you consume things like white bread and highly processed foods, research shows that the effect on our blood sugar levels is almost identical to consuming glucose.
What Happens When We Consume Sugar
When we consume sugar our bodies have two options: use it as energy or store it as fat. Some people’s bodies are more likely to naturally respond one way over the other, people often call this having a "fast" or "slow" metabolism.
So, what happens once sugar hits our blood stream? Our body releases insulin to handle the sugar appropriately. Often though our body has a hard time getting the balance right when we quickly consume a lot of sugar, causing it to release too much insulin. This results in a sudden blood sugar drop (hypoglycemia), often this is referred to as a “sugar crash.”
Our blood sugar dropping below normal levels sends a message to our brain: “feed me sugar!” We cram more sugar in our body and the cycle continues. Furthermore, having low blood sugar can also result in mood swings, fatigue, and headaches.
If we consume more sugar than can be used for energy, our body converts the excess to fat. However, the more often we over-indulge in the sweet stuff (thus over-working our system trying to handle it) the quicker our body will start converting the sugar straight to fat and skip using it as energy.
But wait, there’s more! Sugar has been linked to many other major issues including: tooth decay, increased chance of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, dementia, suppressed immune response, macular degeneration, chronic kidney disease, and high blood pressure.
If you’re thinking you might have a love affair with sugar, you’re not alone. The majority of Americans today do. The road to reversing the damage of sugar is a long one and it’s not easy, but it will pay off in the long run.
Here are some tips on how to successfully decrease your sugar intake and improve your health:
Got any more tips? Have you already started your journey to cutting out sugar? Let us know in the comments!
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