The danger is lurking in your kitchen; in a tiny white granulated form. OK well maybe not a direct threat now, but the facts are staggering. The average person consumes roughly 130 pounds of sugar each year. Its no surprise however, as sugar is all around us and plentiful in so many different forms.
We are literally surrounded. So why is it important to be aware of how much sugar I’m consuming? Much has to do with the potential long term effects of consuming too much sugar such as: non-alcohol induced fatty liver disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, heart health and the list goes on..
This modern sugar binge is something relatively new that has many of us hooked maybe without even realizing it; people consume much more sugar on average now than ever. In fact occurrences of childhood obesity have been on the rise steadily ever since the early nineteen eighties, and directly correlates with the rise in sugar consumption.
Fructose the “bad” part of sugar has many adverse effects on our bodies. Not only does it suppress hormones responsible for hunger, fructose also affects the pleasure or reward system and this cycle can become addictive.
The truth is our bodies are not able to process the amount of sugar that we are consuming today. Back in simpler times, before the advent of refined sugars and high fructose corn syrup; most sugar consumed was naturally occurring from fruits and other natural forms. These natural sources of sugars were easily broken down, in part due to the fibers present in the fruits.
Flash forward to today where sugar is added to many goods in the local supermarket in such huge amounts that it’s no wonder there’s a obesity epidemic. OK so we all know about calories and just how bad it is for us to consume too many, well, as it turns out calories from sugar are among the worst calories you could be putting into your body. In fact calories from fructose are only able to metabolize in one area of our bodies; the liver.
This is especially troubling because the liver is only able to process small amounts of fructose leading to excess fructose being stored as fat. Hello non alcohol induced fatty liver disease. Worse more, excess fat from the liver can actually enter the bloodstream and contribute to unfavorable conditions such as heart disease and even the possibility of stroke. We know how bad fast food is for us and the staggering toll it can have on our health; it’s time that we also take into account our sugar consumption and realize that our bodies have not yet evolved the ability to process the amount of sugar we are consuming on a daily basis.
The Non Alcohol Induced Fatty Liver
So apparently there’s an epidemic since the 1980’s with an upsurge in the occurrence of non alcohol related fatty liver diagnosis. Turns out Fructose, the “sweet” part of refined sugar is stored as fat in the liver. This can have profound effects on cases of fatty liver where alcohol is not a factor. Unfortunately, fatty liver disease can lead to other negative health conditions such as Diabetes and High Cholesterol.
Let’s be clear here; obesity is an epidemic. The line has been drawn in the sand a long time ago, we know sugar and obesity are hand-in-hand.Obesity can lead to many other adverse health conditions including: diabetes, heart disease and cancer among many other diseases. One third of American adults are considered obese. With regard to Childhood obesity, in the United States alone, obesity rates have doubled for children and more than tripled for teenagers.According to the CDC about 112,000 deaths could be attributed to obesity annually.
In this childhood obesity study scientists replaced 18 percent of the participants sugar intake with starch for only 9 days and noticed an overall improvement in metabolic functions. If just an 18% reduction in fructose can lead to such great results then you can imagine how easy weight loss would become if you further reduced sugar consumption.
What this study gives us is hope, by just reducing the sugar consumption that much, scientists were able to see great improvements in overall health in a matter of just nine days. The case for a no sugar diet has never been stronger; I for one have cut out all sugar and modified corn syrup from my own diet and can say for one that I’ve noticed a huge difference. I have managed to not only lose weight; but also notice my blood pressure has gone down. My challenge to you is to go a week without refined sugars. Just give it a try, I guarantee it’s worth it.
Several studies have been conducted that point to a link regarding sugar consumption and the risk for Heart Disease. Consuming just one can of soda can actually put most people over their recommended sugar intake for the entire day. Based on a soda with 9 teaspoons of sugar. According to a Harvard Study:
“Added sugars make up at least 10% of the calories the average American eats in a day. But about one in 10 people get a whopping one-quarter or more of their calories from added sugar.
Over the course of the 15-year study, participants who took in 25% or more of their daily calories as sugar were more than twice as likely to die from heart disease as those whose diets included less than 10% added sugar.
Overall, the odds of dying from heart disease rose in tandem with the percentage of sugar in the diet—and that was true regardless of a person’s age, sex, physical activity level, and body-mass index (a measure of weight).”
So what exactly can I do to cut sugar? Look at the labels and become informed about what your consuming. If the ingredients are high in sugar or high fructose corn syrup (essentially the same thing), find an healthier alternative. Consume fruits for your sugar fix. That’s right; the sugars present in natural fruits along with the fiber make fruits a great source of sugars that won’t harm your liver, your waistline or your heart.
Realize how much sugar you are consuming and take action to limit it as much as possible. Yes it is fine in moderation, but that’s not how it works with sugar. It affects the reward center of the brain and gives you a “high” then a “low” leaving you wanting more. So be aware, sugar is addictive and you may need to deal with it as such. Watch for “hidden” sugars like those masquerading as high fructose corn syrup and get as much of your sugars from fruit as possible.
Be cognizant of what you are putting into your body, you only have one and it’s got to last your entire life. The dangers of sugar are very real and just make sure that you consume sugar in moderation. Have a look at this great e-book “101 Toxic Food Ingredients“. It’s a great reference guide to potentially dangerous foods that could be damaging to your health and standing as a barrier to your weight loss and overall health goals.