How much sugar are you consuming?
By Crystal Baus
Did you know the average person consumes an estimated at 150 pounds of sugar per year? The USDA recommends we get no more than 10 teaspoons per day, yet most Americans eat about 30 teaspoons per day—that’s three times the liberal recommended daily value.
Today, sugar is found in many of the usual suspects, like cakes, cookies and candy. But it’s also coming from “healthier-sounding” packaged products like salad dressing, pasta sauce, yogurt, canned vegetables, baby food, cereals, peanut butter, bread and tomato sauce.
We don’t always realize it because there are so many names used to describe sugar. It is often disguised in a confusing language such as corn syrup, dextrose, maltose, glucose or fructose. Eating a diet high in sugar is what makes us feel lethargic, moody, irritated and exhausted. And most of all, it can lead to disease.
People love sweet things. Even before we started refining sugar, we sought out foods with sweet tastes. Sugar is a simple carbohydrate that occurs naturally in foods such as grains, beans, vegetables and fruit. Refined table sugar, also called sucrose, is very different. Extracted from either sugar cane or beets, it lacks vitamins, minerals and fiber, and thus requires extra effort from the body to digest. The body must deplete its own store of minerals and enzymes to absorb sucrose properly. Therefore, instead of providing the body with nutrition, it creates deficiency.
Health-conscious people are aware that their blood sugar levels fluctuate wildly on a sugar-induced high, but they often don’t associate the emotional rollercoaster ride that accompanies this high. We feel happy and energetic for a while and then suddenly, unexplainably, we find ourselves arguing with a friend or lover.
Sugar qualifies as an addictive substance for two reasons:
1.Eating even a small amount creates a desire for more.
2.Suddenly quitting causes withdrawal symptoms such as headaches, mood swings, cravings and fatigue.
A study in the Journal of the American Heart Association found that excess sugar increases the risk for heart failure. In addition to heart disease, a diet high in sugar can cause obesity, hormone imbalances, liver damage, cell aging, memory loss and more.
What happens when you reduce your sugar intake?
Within a few weeks’ of reducing your sugar intake it’s likely you will see a 10 percent decrease in LDL cholesterol and up to a 30 percent decrease in triglycerides, while simultaneously improving your blood pressure. This is because added sugar chronically raises insulin levels, increasing blood pressure and your heart rate.
Once you’re over your sugar fix, you’ll feel better than ever. People who have a diet high in added sugars and refined grains are more likely to experience anxiety, irritability and mood swings.
You should be more awake and alert during the day, and also better prepared to catch some z’s come bedtime. People usually crash from the sugar high that leaves them feeling the mid-day sluggishness and the need for a nap.
Scaling back your sugar habit by 200 calories a day could help you drop 10 pounds in five to six months. Replacing candy and cakes or sugary protein bars with almonds or other real health snacks, will help you reduce your overall calorie intake.
Lastly, you will reduce inflammation in your body. Foods high in sugar spur inflammation. Chronic inflammation is the root cause of many diseases. Quick tip, tart cherries have one of the highest anti-inflammatory content of any food.
Crystal Baus is an integrative health coach for HealthStyles 4 You, and a marketing contractor for the following industries: Health and Wellness, Naturopathic Practices (including Chambers Clinic) and Signage & Digital Graphics. Baus can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, or www.healthstyles4you.com.