What's With Sugar?
The standard American diet is full of sugar – and a lot of the time it is hidden sugars in foods that are marketed as “healthy”. It has become so prevalent that if you removed all the items containing it from your grocery store shelves just 20% of items would remain. Most of the sugar that we are consuming is not natural – but added highly refined sugar. How did we get to this point?
The history of sugar:
The first reports of sugar came from New Guiney in 8000 BC! Sugar eventually migrated to India
In the 12th century sugar arrived in Europe. It was loved so much and became a staple for Royalty (Queen Elizabeth I loved sugar so much that her teeth rotted and all fell out)
At the turn of the 20th century sugar was still seen as a treat – but in 1955 an event occurred that significantly changed the amount of sugar we eat today
The issue of heart disease came about in 1955 and 2 theories arose:
An American scientist (Ansel Keys)believed that the cause for heart disease was due to the amount of fat we consumed
A British scientist (John Yutkin) believed was to blame
Over the next 20 years there would be study after study “proving” that fat was the problem, then sugar, then fat… but by then end of the 1970’s it was Keys theory that won
This is where fat became the villain, the low fat movement began and the consumption of sugar increased 10 fold
When you remove fat from a food you compromise on taste, and the only ingredient that will make the food palatable again is sugar. So the question is why are we being faced with an obesity epidemic if we have cut out most fats?
Excessive unhealthy food and sugars-sweetened soft drink consumption provides a major and unnecessary source of calories with no nutritional value what so ever.
The body needs a certain amount of sugar (glucose and stored glycogen) to function properly and provide your body with energy. Glucose is transformed into glycogen and is stored first in the muscles, then liver. When you consume more than the body requires the excess is stored in the form of fat so that the body can use it for energy later. However, there is no later!
Too much consumption – as of 2004 the average person in North America consumer 150lbs of sugar in a year. That’s over 22 teaspoons per day! Keep in mind that 1 teaspoon = 4 grams of sugar.
The definition of sugar needs to expand from the white crystals you stir into coffee in the morning or the ingredient that you bake with. Sugar is in all breads, cereals, rice, potato, corn, waffles, and pasta sauce etc.
The sugar family
Glucose: breads, pasta, veggies and grains – this sugar is needed for energy and especially our brains
Lactose: cheese, milk, yogurt
Sucrose: table sugar – made up of 2 sugars: glucose + fructose; some say this is the most dangerous form of sugar
Fructose: fruit, some veggies and honey– in the past this sugar was very rare, but now we find it everywhere . This form of sugar may be causing the most damage due to the amount we are consuming and how it is metabolized in the body. Fructose is highly addictive. 100 years ago we were exposed to around 15grams of fructose per day (mostly from fruit). Now a day we are consuming 80 - 150grams per day! That is literally 10x the amount from a century ago.
It is not fat that makes you fat – it is sugar that makes you fat
High stress triggers the need for carbohydrates, specifically refined carbohydrates and sugars. This is where sugar can be looked at as a drug. The more stressed we are the more sugar we crave. The longer the stress is present in our everyday lives, the more our sugar tolerance rises.
How much sugar are you eating?
Salad dressings – 7-9 grams or 2 teaspoons sugar per serving
Pasta sauce – 8-12 grams or 2-3 teaspoons sugar per serving
BBQ sauce – 12 grams or 3 teaspoons sugar per 2 tablespoons
Sports beverage – up to 32 grams or 8 teaspoons sugar per serving
Strawberry Yogurt – up to 40g or 10 teaspoons sugar per serving
Protein bar – 22 grams or 5.5 teaspoons sugar per bar
Cider beverage – 20 grams or 4 teaspoons sugar per drink
Best Sugar Choices!
As mentioned before our bodies need sugars to healthily function. Choosing healthy sources are great; however you have to take into consideration how much you are consuming as well. Stay away from the processed sugars! Increasing your consumption of whole foods will help to crowd out the processed, fried foods that are currently so prominent in the diet. With any processed food read the labels and make sure to follow these simple rules:
Make sure that sugar content is less than 10 grams per serving
The more protein and fibre content the better (this will help with slow digestion of the sugars and make you feel fuller longer)
These rules will help you to restrict the amount of sugar you are consuming, allowing less fat storage and more opportunity to use the stored fat as energy. When it comes to sugar intake stick to what is naturally found on the planet – again in moderation (no more than 2 fruits a day – no later than lunch time – or 2 sweetened treats per week)
Here are the best natural forms of sugar to consume in moderation:
Agave and Maple Syrup
Stevia or Coconut Sugar