Sugar and Your Health; The Not-So-Sweet Truth

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Everything in moderation, right?

Yes. And…

There’s one specific category of what’s become the American/North American diet where we’re in need of a skip past moderation, and a return to minimalism: sugar.

Here’s why:

The average American eats 19 teaspoons of sugar a day.  The recommended amount? Less than 9.  Before you rush to judge habits or blame upbringing for the 2x of the recommended intake, here’s the deeper truth: it’s the average because the majority of the population doesn’t know they’re consuming the amount of sugar they actually are.

Yes, it’s incredibly accessible. Yes, there are Instagram channels dedicated to treats and desserts and beyond. And yes, it’s tantalizing. BUT – it’s also hidden in almost all foods, even ones we think are the ‘healthy’ choice.

With 50+ names listed on packaging of everything from processed meals to sauces and everything in between, sugar is literally everywhere – and it’s creating a tidal wave of health challenges here in the United States.

The not-so-sweet truth about sugar.

Here’s the real-deal of excessive, prolonged sugar intake (intentional or unintentional):

  1. Increased likelihood of memory deficits and risk of Alzheimer’s Disease.
  2. Increased blood pressure and triglycerides, which may cause cardiovascular disease.
  3. Increased likelihood of dental cavities
  4. Increased risk of asthma
  5. Distorting the hunger and satiety hormones, causing overeating and increased risk of obesity
  6. Potential insulin resistance
  7. Disrupting gut microbiome and negatively impairing immunity
  8. Promoting inflammation which can lead to chronic disease
  9. Replacing nutrient-dense calories, possibly leading to vitamin and mineral deficiencies

Whether heart disease, inflammation, chronic pain or beyond, when any of the above 9 symptoms start to show up, it can be the canary in the coal mine for more extensive health challenges in the future. And, could possibly be the source of frustrations and limitations in the thriving life and lifestyle you’re out to create.

So – what to do to help reduce sugar intake, and avoid the impacts on your wellbeing? Start with these three steps:

Remove all refined sugar in your home. By keeping only natural sugars—like maple syrup, honey, and coconut sugar—at home, you’re putting up the first line of defense around building sugar-fueled snacking habits. If you’ve got a sweet tooth that feels challenging to wrangle, this step may occur as a big one. And, it’s one of the most important first steps to take in the fight for your longevity and health.

Read your ingredient labels. Give yourself some extra time at the grocery store, and carefully look for added sugar in food items (like yogurts, pre-made sauces and salad dressings, etc.). Like I mentioned above, there are over 50 different names for sugar – and while you can find that list online, here are a few sneaky ingredients to watch out for: High fructose corn syrup, fruit juice concentrate, brown rice syrup, beet sugar, Dextrose, Rice Syrup, Sucrose, Maltose, Corn Syrup

Keep it whole. The goal: consume less packaged foods, and more whole, real foods. This slight shift in buying behavior can put the control back in your hands for what’s going into your meals, and into your body. If you live somewhere that doesn’t have great access to fresh fruit and vegetables or quality meat that’s affordable, do your best to find the options with the least amount of processed sugar possible. Do what you can, with what’s available. And, when possible – stick to the outer-edges of the grocery store; shop for fresh food and make meals with real, whole ingredients.

Your sugar-less, health-forward future.

When we can train our brains and our palates to crave the taste of natural sugars (like fruit), and consume less sugar, we’re taking steps towards our whole body wellness. From helping to stop weight gain to reducing risk of heart disease, stabilizing moods + energy levels and improving our mental cognition and brain function, it’s a small change with a HUGELY positive impact, and quality of life expanding effects.

Want to learn more about finding out what’s in the food you’re eating? Check out Foodbabe.com—one of my personal favorite websites—for resources and added insight.

 

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