10 Reasons Why Sugar is NOT Your Best Friend: Part 1
Posted by Kara Stout on July 27, 2012 at 1:23 PM
Almost everyone I know loves sweet treats…cupcakes, cookies, candy, pretty much anything with sugar. The problem is, well there are numerous problems with too much added sugar. Sugar is one of my favorite topics to discuss. It is crucial to understand exactly what sugar does to our bodies and to understand the complete chaos it can create. And just to be clear, this article is on added sugars not naturally occurring sugar found in whole foods such as fruit. I will be writing about this topic in two parts. This is part 1 – the danger of too much sugar and how to be what I like to call a sugar detective!
Let’s begin with a little quiz called “Guess the Amount of Sugar in…”
Guess the Amount of Sugar in…
a. 6 oz Yoplait original strawberry yogurt
b. 6 oz Yoplait light strawberry yogurt
c. ½ cup of Prego pasta sauce
d. 32 fl oz Fruit Punch Gatorade
e. 16 oz Starbucks Cinnamon Dolce Latte
Answers: a) 26g b) 10g c) 11g d) 52.5g e) 40g
The amount of sugar added to these foods and drinks is SO unnecessary. Also, one might think that going for the light yogurt is healthy (as I used to believe); however, with the decreased sugar they have added Aspartame among other questionable ingredients that are found in both the light and original.
The average American consumes more than 150 pounds of added sugar per year according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Imagine 30 five-pound bags of sugar all lined up as a visual on just how much sugar that is. I have also come across statistics indicating Americans are eating about 180 pounds of sugar per year!
The American Heart Association recommends that women consume no more than 24g or 6 teaspoons of added sugar per day. It is ideal to have the least amount of added sugar possible, however, this number provides a good gauge to aim not to go over.
I encourage you to become a sugar detective! Quick story for you…I was on the airplane talking to a nice flight attendant who saw me working on one of my sugar workshops. He asked about it and sort of jokingly asked me what I thought about his Mountain Dew he was drinking for his morning snack. I asked him to check how much sugar was in his mountain dew…2 ½ servings in one bottle with 31 grams of sugar per serving…that’s 77.5 grams total! He had no idea, but he is not alone. Most people, unfortunately, don’t realize just how much sugar they are ingesting.
For all you Starbucks lovers out there, I am sorry to break the bad news to you, but the amount in many of the drinks goes over our goal of no more than 24g/day. :( As stated in the quiz above, a 16-ounce Starbucks Cinnamon Dolce Latte contains 40 grams of sugar, or 10 teaspoons – which is the equivalent of eating 2 ½ Chocolate Glazed Cake donuts from Dunkin Donuts which has 17g of sugar per donut. A tall (12-ounce) with nonfat milk and no whipped cream is still 30 grams of sugar! A 12-ounce Peppermint White Chocolate Mocha has 57g of sugar!
It seems the majority of people mainly look at calorie content when considering food and drinks. However, you MUST look at the sugar content. The good news is when you are eating whole foods there is no nutrition facts panel you have to worry about reading. So, aim to add in more whole foods and decrease your processed foods.
Not only is it important to read the nutrition label, but also make sure to read the ingredients list. Currently, nutrition labels do not list the amount of added sugars alone in a product. The line for “sugars” you see on the nutrition label includes both added and natural sugars. So, the only way to tell if sugar has been added is to look at the ingredients list to see if sugar is listed in the ingredients.
There are many names for sugar: sucrose, dextrose, glucose (if you see an ingredient ending with “ose”), corn syrups, high fructose corn syrup, fruit juice concentrates, cane sugar, and corn sweetener to name several. Look for these names in the ingredients list.
As far as high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), I definitely encourage you to be mindful of steering clear of this toxic sugar. HFCS can lead to increased appetite, calorie intake, and weight gain. HFCS is found in many drinks and food items so be on the lookout!
So why is sugar such a bad guy?
1. Weight gain
Sugar can lead to weight gain because our cells do not require large amounts at one time, and the extra sugar is stored as fat. Sugar also slows down our metabolism.
2. Nutritional deficiency
Refined sugar lacks vitamins, minerals and fiber, therefore, making our bodies work even harder to digest it. In order to absorb sugar properly, our bodies actually have to deplete our own store of minerals and enzymes.
Because sugar takes our blood sugar on a roller coaster ride, first being pushed up high and then brought back down really low, we experience what we all know as a “sugar crash”.
4. Weakened immune system
If you are getting frequent colds or infections, take a look at your sugar consumption. If your immune system is weak, you will have a much more difficult time fighting offillness.
5. Aging and wrinkles
Sugar can lead to premature aging by damaging collagen and elastin.
6. Headaches & migraines
Sugar consumption can play a role in headaches and migraines.
Excessive sugar can lead to depression. Additionally, we may feel comforted right before and right after eating a cupcake and we may anticipate it lifting our moods, however, this typically will be very temporary. Eating this sweet treat really did not get to the root of our stress or depression, so then we are back to square one.
8. Yeast infections
Sugar can contribute to yeast infections and increase the growth of yeast.
Sugar can contribute to or lead to several cancers including ovarian and breast cancer.
10. Worsen PMS symptoms
Sugar consumption can worsen our symptoms, so limiting your sugar before your period and while experiencing symptoms may be helpful.
Click here for 146 reasons why sugar is not your best friend! YES…146 reasons!
In your journey of becoming a sugar detective, just remember to take it one step at a time and be patient with yourself and proud of any accomplishments in decreasing your sugar consumption.
Just know as well that you may experience headaches within the first 7 days of decreasing/cutting out sugar, but this is a sign your body is detoxifying and adjusting to your healthier you.
Stay tuned for Part 2 on 10 steps to breakup with your NOT-so-best-friend…Sugar! In the meantime, if you have any questions please post them here or you can always contact me, and I would be happy to help!!
Sugar Blues article written by Joshua Rosenthal, Integrative Nutrition
UltraMetabolism by Mark Hyman, M.D.