No one wants to read that sugar is evil. You’ve heard it, you’ve seen it, and you want to ignore it. The unfortunate truth is that sugar is out to get you. Even when you try to stop adding it to your diet, chances are it’s hiding and will creep into your food or drink when you least expect it.
Reviewing the Evil Factors
Again, sugar is sweet and can be enjoyable. In fact, it can be addictive. That’s one of the main reasons we find ways to ignore giving it up. In order to remove pressure, let’s just give sugar intake the benefit of the doubt…
In the meanwhile, let’s peruse some reasons why sugar is not OK. Afterwards, we can rethink our feelings about sugar’s positive value (if any).
- Added sugars include: fructose, high fructose corn syrup, corn syrup, dextrose, corn sweetener, cane crystals, and other refined forms of sugar. NOT ONE of these is a natural source in which our body digests and converts into fuel. They are all high in calories and offer zero nutrients.
(Fructose derived directly from a piece of fruit is organically digestible. The liver can handle the natural source, convert it to glycogen, and store it in the liver.)
-Added sugar (once in the body) gets broken down into two forms: glucose and fructose. Too much and the body can’t handle the overload. Glucose winds up creating fat cells to store the excess. Then, if there’s too much for the cells to hold, the glucose spills into the bloodstream; this is where high blood sugar levels enter the picture.
-Too much fructose turns into fat and can get lodged in the liver. This is a scenario where one can develop non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.
-Large amounts of fructose can affect triglyceride and LDL levels—bad cholesterol, increasing them dangerously. Risk of obesity soars as well risk of heart disease. (Current studies are showing that sugar intake is more responsible for cardiovascular disease than fat intake.)
-Sugar creates an imbalance in your gut microbiome. This causes several negative side effects, one of them being tooth decay. The acids from GERD and other gastrointestinal acid-based ailments affect the health of your teeth. Sugar doesn’t directly erode; it’s the bad bacteria that’s already on the teeth that feeds on your sugar consumption. Yuk!
-Overconsumption of sugar can create insulin resistance. Insulin resistance is the tour guide leading you to type-2 diabetes, obesity, metabolic syndrome, heart disease, and other serious ailments.
–Metabolic conditions caused from too much sugar can lead to inflammation. Chronic inflammation is linked to increased risk of cancer.
-Sugar intake can produce large releases of dopamine. This “feel good” hormone becomes addictive. Hence, so does sugar.
Do sugar-filled foods still sound as appealing?
What Am I Suppose To Do?
It may be unrealistic to cut out all sugar from your diet. However, it is totally possible and manageable to avoid “added” sugars. As stated, fruit offers a natural form of fructose, and in moderation, all fruits are healthy food sources.
But what about everything else we eat?
Obviously, adding sugar to your tea or coffee, or adding a cup of granulated sugar to your cookie mix can be avoided. For your good health, and after reading the above selections, you may choose to alter some of your eating habits.
Those examples are clear and straightforward. You can always substitute with coconut nectar, unsweetened applesauce, or Stevia. But what about all the pre-packaged foods we buy?
This is where sugar is hiding
You need to be proactive in order to make healthy grocery shopping choices. Here are some tips:
– Read all the ingredients on labels. The cover may say “natural”, “naturally flavored”, “gluten-free”, “low-fat”, but none of that means they are low in sugar or sugar-free.
– Sugar-free does not mean healthy. Diet products and artificial sweeteners are very dangerous to your health—maybe even more so than processed sugars.
– Buy plain yogurt. Flavored yogurts are very high in sugar.
– Make your own granola with nuts, oats, and unsweetened dried fruits. Packaged granola almost always has added sugar.
– Cereals are notorious for appearing healthy but have a ton of sugar. Make sure your choice includes a whole-grain and no added sugars.
– Condiments like ketchup, dressings, and dips almost always have sugar as a main ingredient. Make your own from olive oil, balsamic vinegar, fruits, nuts, avocados, beans, and any other produce, herbs, and spices.
-Baked chips often have sugar as an ingredient. You’re better off getting a chip that has no sugar and uses a “good fat” like avocado oil, and eat fewer. Yum!
– Beware of flavored water drinks. If they have 800 vitamins, none of them will do you any good if the bottle has 50 grams of sugar in it. You won’t be able to absorb any of the nutrients. Seltzer water doesn’t usually have added sugar and you can mix in your favorite fruit to create a homemade soda.
There are a multitude of options for delicious eating and drinking that don’t require added sugar. Obesity, type-2 diabetes, and sugar-filled foods are a relatively new aspect to our American diet (and poor health.) Turning back the hands of time in this particular case is a good idea; nature nurtures. Eat fresh, think pure, and your body will love you and reward you for it.
Check out www.GetThrive.com for the most current information on beneficial dietary and health tips.
Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, February 2017