In case you haven't heard, sugar is quite the bad boy for a healthy diet. Part of the reason for this is because the more sugar you consume, the more you crave it. And while sugar is an ingredient that is definitely worth indulging in once in awhile, over indulging can cause many health problems, both in the short term and the long term.
Why, however, has it become such a problem? In a recent teleconference that we held, expert Allison Reyna enlightened us on some very interesting factoids about the sweet white stuff and why it has become such a topic of concern in recent years:
- Today's Consumption: Today, an average American consumes 2-3 pounds of sugar each week. While at the end of the 19th century (1887-1890), the average American consumed only 5 lbs. per year.
- A Continual Rise: Over the last 20 years, sugar consumption in the U.S. has increased 26 pounds to 135 lbs. of sugar per person per year.
- Hidden Culprits: Sugar consumption includes highly refined sugars that are incorporated into many of the foods we eat (bread, peanut butter, condiments, sauces, etc.). Some of these are better known as sucrose (table sugar), dextrose (corn sugar), and high-fructose corn syrup.
- 4 Classes: 4 classes of simple sugars (Sucrose, fructose, honey, and malts) are deemed "harmful" to optimal health when long-term consumption is over 15% of carbohydrate calories ingested. Hint...complex carbohydrates (veggies, beans, legumes, whole grains) are the way to keep this number below 15%.
- Health Issues: Simple sugars have been documented to contribute to and/or aggravate health problems, including: asthma, mood disorders, mental illness, nervous disorders, diabetes, heart disease, gallstones, hypertension, and arthritis.
- Insulin Impacts: Sugar raises insulin levels, inhibiting the release of growth hormones which depresses the immune system. Further, too much insulin promotes the storage of fat, so that when you eat foods that are high in sugar, you're enabling rapid weight gain and elevated triglyceride levels, both of which have been linked to cardiovascular disease.
- Degenerative Disease: Sugar has no real nutritional value (minerals, vitamins and fiber) and as a result, has a deteriorating effect on the endocrine system, causing sugar consumption to be one of the 3 major causes of degenerative disease.
- Cancer Culprits: Turns out that cancer's preferred fuel is none other than glucose. Controlling one's blood-glucose levels through diet, exercise, supplements, meditation and prescription drugs - when necessary - can be extremely important to a cancer treatment program.
So next time you think of having a lump of sugar in your coffee, remember, a long time ago, people found a way to drink their coffee without the sweet taste of sugar.
Do you avoid sugar? How much do you think you consume in a day, week or year?
- Carbohydrate Facts
- Know When to Give into Your Cravings
- How to Read Nutrition Labels
- Natural Sweeteners to Replace Sugar
- 5 Ingredients to Avoid
- Your Solution Guide to HFCS