By: Marlene Affeld ~
More addictive than cocaine or heroin, sugar is a sweet white poison that triggers weight gain, feeds prostate, breast, endometrial and colon cancer cells, causes a host of chronic diseases and accelerates premature aging. If that isn’t enough, sugar rots our teeth.
Available in a diverse variety of forms with a host of different names, all of the following sweeteners are loaded with empty calories that offer little or no nutritional value.
- Brown Sugar
- Corn Sweetener
- Fruit Juice Concentrate
- Corn Syrup
- Sorghum Syrup
Have you ever considered how much sugar you consume in a day, a week, a month or a year? Nutritionists advise that we should receive less than 10 percent of our daily calories from sugar. However, the majority of Americans dangerously consume sweeteners in amounts that are devastating to good health. Are we slowing killing ourselves one sweet taste at a time?
The statistics on sugar consumption in the United States cause serious alarm. Two centuries ago our forefathers ate less than 2 pounds of sugar a year. In 1900 the average U.S. sugar consumption rose to 90 pounds a year. By 1970, sugar addiction had skyrocketed to an average of 123 pounds a year per person. In 2013 the average American devoured approximately 152 pounds throughout the year or an average of 3 pounds a week.
Right now you are probably saying, “Hey, wait a minute. No way. That isn’t me. I don’t begin to eat that much sugar.”
Wrong! In all likelihood, you consume a lot more sugar that you realize. Sports drinks, fruit juices, sodas, over-the-counter medication and almost all processed foods are sources of sugar in the diet. Lunchmeats, bread, potato chips, dips, cheese spreads, ice cream, yogurt, salad dressings, steak sauce, pickles, and ketchup are but a few items on a seemingly endless list of foods we enjoy daily that contain hidden sugars. Research studies show that we consume approximately 500 calories a day of hidden sugars.
Recent market research shows that the majority of infant formula products contain as much sugar per serving as a 12-ounce can of your favorite sweetened soft drink, metabolically poisoning babies from birth.
Sugar And Obesity
Considering our obsession with sugar, it comes as no surprise that there is an epidemic of obesity in America. Currently, greater than 30 percent of Americans are obese. An additional 64 percent of us in the age group of the population from 20- to- 74 years of age are overweight. That totals up to more than 129.6 million people that are or should be on a weight loss diet. If you have been counting calories and carbs with the intent of losing weight, hidden sugars may be the culprits sabotaging your success. Adult obesity isn’t the only problem. Obesity rates in adolescents have tripled over the past 30 years in America while childhood obesity rates have doubled.
Dr. David Ludwig, a renowned obesity and weight-loss specialist at Harvard-affiliated Boston Children’s Hospital advises, “Sugar-containing foods in their natural form, whole fruit, for example, tend to be highly nutritious—nutrient-dense, high in fiber, and low in glycemic load. On the other hand, refined, concentrated sugar consumed in large amounts rapidly increases blood glucose and insulin levels, increases triglycerides, inflammatory mediators and oxygen radicals, and with them, the risk for diabetes, cardiovascular disease and other chronic illnesses.”
Excess weight puts us at risk for a wide range of life-threatening conditions including diabetes, hypertension, depression, and heart and kidney disease. While science has long been aware that excess sugar can increase our risk for heart disease, it took a 2013 study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association to confirm that sugar actually affects the pumping mechanism of the heart and can increase the risk for heart failure.
All Sugars Are Not The Same
With so many different types of sugars and sweeteners available in the marketplace it is easy to become confused.
- Glucose, dextrose and fructose are all simple sugars with the difference being in how your body metabolizes them. Dextrose and glucose are basically the same sugar. Food manufacturers usually elect to use the term dextrose in food labeling.
- These simple sugars, when combined, create more complex sugars including thedisaccharide sucrose, commonly known as table sugar.
- Widely used in processed foods, high fructose corn syrup is a combination of 45 percent glucose and 55 percent fructose.
Fructose Is The Worst Type Of Sugar For Our Bodies
Published in Time Magazine October 27, 2012, Robert H. Lustig M.D., a pediatric endocrinologist who has spent over 16 years treating childhood obesity, explains fructose’s addictive properties noting, “In animal studies, fructose causes the four criteria of addiction: bingeing, withdrawal, craving, and sensitization to other addictive substances (meaning after chronic exposure to sugar, it’s easier to get hooked on another drug). In humans, fructose lights up the reward center in your brain called the nucleus accumbens on MRI; but after repeated exposure, the reward center lights up less and less, so you need more and more to achieve the same effect. Fructose has effects on the reward center similar to alcohol; and just like alcohol, can lead to a “vicious cycle” of consumption and disease.”
Fructose itself isn’t the problem. The problem lies in how much we consume. On average, Americans daily consume an average fructose dose of 70 grams. This amount exceeds the recommended limit by 300 percent.
Loaded with high fructose corn syrup, soft drinks, sodas and energy drinks are the single largest source of calories in the American diet. An average 12-ounce can of sugar-sweetened soda contains about 150 calories, almost all from sugar.
The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition reports, “Consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs), particularly carbonated soft drinks, may be a key contributor to the epidemic of overweight and obesity, by virtue of these beverages’ high added sugar content, low satiety, and incomplete compensation for total energy.”
Over 40 years ago beverage manufacturers began switching out their sweeteners from sucrose to corn syrup as they discovered that high fructose corn syrup was a lot cheaper to produce and was approximately 20 percent sweeter than table sugar. What makes it a problem is that high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) contains the same two sugars as sucrose, but has an increased metabolic risk due to its manipulated chemical form.
Fructose and glucose do not bind together as in table sugar meaning the body does not have to break it down. Fructose is immediately absorbed, headed straight for the liver.
Fructose and alcohol present similar toxic effects on the liver. Fructose consumption can also promote elevated uric acid causing low-level inflammation throughout the body with long-lasting adverse health concerns. If you have ever suffered from gout, you know one of the painful consequences of uric acid build-up. Believe me, if you don’t know, you don’t want to find out.
Elevated uric acid levels can also cause inflamed blood vessels, a leading causes of strokes and heart attacks. Scientists are reporting a preponderance of evidence that suggests chronic inflammation also encourage the growth of cancerous tumors. Similar to ethanol metabolism, fructose metabolism produces a host of toxic effects including non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.
Fructose is a trickster, fooling the metabolism by shutting down the body’s appetite-control system. Medical experts advise that ingesting fructose is worse for us health wise than eating fat. In fact, high fructose corn syrup makes us fat! Fructose leads to rapid weight gain target at the area where we least want to see it accumulate. In addition to fostering belly fat fructose consumption promotes increased LDL, decreased HDL, elevated blood sugar, and high blood pressure.
In her book, Lick The Sugar Habit, noted clinical nutritionist Nancy Appleton lists 124 reasons that sugar is bad for you. Highlights of the list are definitely “food for thought”.
- Sugar raises cholesterol
- Sugar can weaken eyesight
- Sugar can impair DNA structure
- Sugar may sap your brain power
- Sugar can lead to periodontal disease
- Sugar can cause anxiety, hypertension, loss of concentration and crankiness in children.
- Sugar contributes to eczema in children
- Sugar consumption promotes uncontrolled growth of Candida Albicans a common yeast infection in women
- Excess sugar consumption lowers our defenses against bacteria infection
- Sugar contributes to osteoporosis
It is the consensus of the medical community that “fructose is the number one contributing factor to the current obesity epidemic.”
Kicking A Sugar Habit
Darlene Kvist, a licensed nutritionist and author of the book “Dishing Up Nutrition” offers some sound advice on kicking a sugar habit noting, “It’s about biochemistry, not willpower. It’s important to recognize that sugar addiction is not simply a lack of willpower. For long-term recovery, it is absolutely necessary to balance the biochemical systems in the body, such as blood sugar, poor intestinal health, and insufficient brain chemicals (neurotransmitters). Only then can sugar addiction be overcome, otherwise relapse occurs similar to any other addiction. The number one tip for someone looking to free him or herself of sugar addiction would be to have an in-depth nutrition consultation. This is critical to address the unique biochemical needs of the individual. Treating sugar addiction is complex and different for each person.”
While quitting sugar isn’t easy, it is more than worth the effort to try to eliminate as much sugar from our diets as possible. Give it a try for at least two weeks. You will be amazed how you feel.
In an effort to reduce their sugar intake and cut calories, many Americans opt to use alternative sweeteners.
- Honey is a preferred substitute for sugar even though it about 53 percent fructose. In its pure raw state, honey used in moderation, offers many significant health benefits.
- Stevia is a highly concentrated natural sweetener derived from the leaves of the South American stevia plant. Completely safe in its natural form with no unpleasant side effects, stevia provides the sweetness we crave without the calories making it an ideal alternative to table sugar.
- Beware of Splendia. Sucralose, marketed as Splendia, is not a sugar in spite of its “sugar-like” name. Falsely advertised as “made from sugar” is actually a chlorinated artificial sweetener similar to saccharin and aspartame with all the same detrimental effects on our good health.
- Sorbitol, xylitol, glycerol, mannitol, erythritol and maltitol are known as sugar alcohols although they contain neither sugar nor alcohol. Gaining in popularity as a sugar substitute these sugar alcohols are incompletely absorbed in the small intestine and provide fewer calories than sugar. However, they are not without their downside often producing unpleasant stomach distress including flatulence, bloating and diarrhea.
- Falsely advertised as a natural sweetener, Agave syrup in a con on the public. In reality the syrup is typically highly processed and is approximately 80 percent fructose.
- Found in Asian markets and health food stores, Lo han also known as luohanguo, is another natural sweetener derived from fruit that makes an excellent low calorie substitute for table sugar.