It is Valentine’s Day. What a day for a post on sugar. Let us see what we can learn about sugar.
Dr. Robert Lustig, a professor of Clinical Pediatrics in the Division of Endocrinology in the University of California and a pioneer in decoding sugar metabolism, says that your body can safely metabolize at least six teaspoons (28.6 grams) of added sugar from natural and manufactured sources per day. It seems like a lot, but did you know that a 3” apple has 18.9 grams of sugar.
The average American consumes about 32 teaspoons of sugar per day. Sugar is in most processed foods and drinks. It is in your coffee or tea. It is in pastries, cakes and cookies, sprinkled it over your breakfast cereal or your oatmeal. It’s hidden in sodas, fruit juices, candies, ice cream and in almost all processed foods, including breads, meats, and condiments like Worcestershire sauce and ketchup.
The best way to ensure you’re not consuming excess added sugars is to get in the habit of always scanning the ingredient list. Ingredients are listed by quantity from high to low: the closer to the front of the list a form of sugar is, the more the product contains.
Just because you don’t see “sugar” on the ingredient list when scanning a nutrition label does not guarantee the item is sugar or sweetener-free. Sugar goes by a slew of different names, hiding how much sugar is in the product.
On the Nutrition label the carbohydrate count per serving size is given as total grams, and then broken down into carbs from fiber and sugar. Sugar should be zero as often as possible (1–2g at most).
The Most Common Names for Sugar:
Basic Simple Sugars (monosaccharides and disaccharides):
Solid or Granulated Sugars:
Cane juice crystals
Confectioner’s sugar (aka, powdered sugar)
Corn syrup solids
Glucose syrup solids
Sugar (granulated or table)
Liquid or Syrup Sugars:
Brown rice syrup
Evaporated cane juice
Fruit juice concentrate
High-Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS)
Here are some of the effects that excessive sugar intake has on your health:
- Sugar is a primary dietary factor that drives obesity and chronic disease development.
- Sugar causes weight gain, abdominal obesity, decreased HDL and increased LDL cholesterol levels, elevated blood sugar, elevated triglycerides, high blood pressure, Hypertension, Lipid problems, Heart disease, and Polycystic ovarian syndrome.
- One of the most severe effects of eating too much sugar is its potential to damage your liver, leading to a condition known as non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). Your liver metabolizes alcohol the same way as sugar – as both serve as substrates for converting dietary carbohydrate into fat. This promotes insulin resistance, fatty liver and dyslipidemia (abnormal fat levels in your blood).
- Fructose or high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS). It is found in most processed foods and drinks. HFCS is metabolized directly into fat.
- Fructose causes superoxide free radicals to form, resulting in inflammation.
- Fructose can directly and indirectly stimulate the brain’s “hedonic pathway” – creating habituation and dependence, the same way that alcohol does.
- Sugar “feeds” the cancer cells, promoting cell division and speeding their growth, allowing the cancer to spread faster.
- The metabolic theory of cancer holds sugar damages mitochondrial function and energy production, triggering cell mutations that are then fed by on going sugar consumption.
How to Manage or Limit Your Sugar Consumption
- Your healthiest choice is to avoid or eliminate refined sugar from your diet by eating whole, organic foods, and carefully reading labels of any packaged foods you buy.
- Avoid processed foods and beverages like soda. According to SugarScience.org, 74 % of processed foods contain added sugar stealthily hidden under different names. (See the list of names above.)
- Severely limit your consumption of refined carbohydrates (waffles, cereals, bagels, bread, etc.) and grains, as they actually break down to sugar in your body, resulting in insulin resistance.
- Keep your total fructose consumption below 25 grams per day, including that from whole fruit. Fruits are rich in nutrients and antioxidants, but they also naturally contain fructose.
- Avoid artificial sweeteners like aspartame and sucralose.
- Increase your consumption of healthy fats, such as omega-3, saturated and monounsaturated fats such as organic butter from raw milk, (unheated) virgin olive oil, coconut oil, raw nuts like pecans and macadamia, free-range eggs, avocado and wild Alaskan salmon.
- Drink pure, clean water. The best way to gauge your water needs is to observe the color of your urine (it should be light pale yellow) and the frequency of your bathroom visits (ideally, this is around seven to eight times per day).
- Add fermented foods to your meals, they provide detoxification support, which helps lessen the fructose burden on your liver. Some of the best choices include kimchi, natto, organic yogurt and kefir made from grass fed milk, and fermented vegetables.
This Post has been condensed from:
Please see the original for the Footnotes and Citations for the scientific studies.
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