7 Scary Sugar Facts
For most people, experts agree that some added sugar in the diet is fine. But the truth is, most Americans are consuming way too much — on average, nearly 57 pounds of added sugar per person, every year. This could be affecting us in ways that make us prone to craving more sugar and to a wide variety of chronic diseases and obesity.
Expert panels worldwide have made consistent recommendations on daily sugar intake. The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends no more than 6 teaspoons (25 grams) of added sugar per day for women and 9 teaspoons (38 grams) for men. The AHA limits for children vary depending on their age and caloric needs, but range between 3-6 teaspoons (12 - 25 grams) per day.
Sugars in your diet can be naturally occurring or added. Naturally occurring sugars are found naturally in foods such as fruit (fructose and glucose) and milk (lactose). Added sugars are sugars and syrups put in foods during preparation or processing. These include regular soft drinks, candy, cakes, cookies, pies, fruit drinks, dairy desserts and milk products (ice cream, sweetened yogurt).
Choosing naturally occurring sugars is always your best option for your health. This does not mean that there is not room for the occasional treat. Understanding your body and how sugar or other foods are impacting your health is always the most important thing to do first when trying to understand how any food will fit into a healthy lifestyle.
This is how sugar is affecting you and your body:
1. Sugar is Highly Addictive: Sugar releases an opiate-like substance that activates the brain’s reward system making it as addictive as cocaine.
2. Sugar Has No Nutritional Value: Sugar does not contain any vitamins, minerals, enzymes, fats or fiber.
3. Sugar Depletes Your Body of Nutrients: Sugar causes your bones to release an increased amount of calcium. It also depletes the body of B vitamins which can lead to symptoms like heart palpitations, chronic fatigue, anxiety, insomnia, difficulty focusing, indigestion and sugar cravings.
4. Sugar Is Linked to Many Kinds of Cancer: Sugar has been linked particularly to breast and colon cancer. Some tumors have insulin receptors which feed on glucose (i.e. sugar) causing them to grow quickly.
5. Sugar Makes You Store Fat: Sugar chronically raises your insulin levels (the hormone that helps you utilize glucose for energy) causing serious imbalances in your blood sugar and conversion of excess energy into fat.
6. Sugar Causes High Blood Pressure, Lipid Buildup and Heart Disease: Fructose is processed by the liver and overconsumption can cause serious strain on the liver. This can lead to serious side effects and complications with your blood pressure and burden your heart.
7. Sugar Makes You Forget You’re Full: Leptin is a hormone that is secreted to tell the brain that we are full. Fructose makes the brain leptin resistant causing it to think the body is starving and telling us to eat more.
Have a safe, happy & healthy Halloween!
Johnson, R.K., Appel, L., Brands, M., Howard, B., Lefevre, M., Lustig, R., Sacks, F., Steffen, L., & Wyllie-Rosett, J. (2009, September 15). Dietary sugars intake and cardiovascular health: a scientific statement from the American Heart Association. Circulation , 120(11), 1011-20. doi:10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.109.192627. Retrieved from http://circ.ahajournals.org/content/120/11/1011.full.pdf