Most dieticians agree that Americans are simply getting too much sugar in their diets, and that this extra sugar is one of the reasons for the increased obesity and epidemic of diabetes that is causing so many health problems in our country. What makes the problem worse is that sugar often “hides” in foods that we do not suspect, even those that are labelled “heathy”, with the result that many people are actually taking in more sugar than they realize. Below are reasons to give sugar up along with tips to spot the places sugar could be lurking in your diet.
Americans Overdose on Sugar
The American Heart Association estimates that the average American consumes about 130 pounds a year – which is the equivalent of about 22 teaspoons a day. Surprisingly, they also estimate that about 67% of this sugar consumption takes place in the home.
Hidden sugar tip: One place to look is at your salad dressing the next time you have a bowl of greens. Many commercial dressings contain sugar. A better alternative might be to go with homemade oil and vinegar dressing instead.
Sugar Fools the Brain
High sugar foods can interfere with the hormones that send messages to your brain to tell it that you are full. When these messages are interfered with, your system is tricked into thinking that you are still hungry – and the result is often overeating.
Hidden sugar tip: Bread – white, whole-wheat or multi-grain – is another hidden source of sugar, sometimes containing up to 2 grams a slice. Look for bread that is sugar-free if possible.
Sugar Accelerates Aging
Once it gets into your bloodstream, sugar forms into oxidizing free radicals, which accelerate the aging process through doing damage to your cells. It also puts you at a greater risk for conditions like heart disease.
Hidden sugar tip: Sugar is also an added ingredient in most pasta and tomato sauces. To avoid this, try making your own from scratch – it is not only healthier, but tastes better too!
Sugar “Browns” Your Tissues
Like cars, we “rust” as we age, with oxidation turning our tissues brown in a process known as the Maillard reaction. Overconsumption of sugar accelerates this process.
Hidden sugar tip: Sugar is found in approximately 80% of processed foods, whether they are intended to be sweet or not. Eating a whole foods diet that avoids processed foods is a good way to avoid this.
Sugar Fattens Your Liver
If you consume high quantities of sugar, your liver will convert some of this into fat and a buildup of this in the liver can lead to nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, a serious chronic condition which can lead to other health problems down the road.
Hidden sugar tip: Read the labels on the yogurt container – some of them are loaded with sugar. It is healthier to buy plain yogurt then add fresh fruits or honey to get your sweet fix.
On the whole, if you are serious about avoiding excess sugar in your diet – along with all the health problems that an high-sugar diet can bring – it is safest to make many of your foods from scratch and follow a whole-foods diet that will allow you to satisfy your sweet tooth with fresh fruit, nature’s best dessert.
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