Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Do You Consume Too Much Sugar

Do You Consume Too
Much Sugar?

These days, so many people eat so much sugar. Some of it we can easily understand in what we eat and the rest of it, we may not be aware. How many labels of the food products that you buy, do you read and understand? The bottom line is that we eat far more sugar than we need.


According to a program that aired (2/17/12) on ScienceFriday.com of NPR, UCSF pediatrician Robert Lustig states that sugar is the main cause of the obesity epidemic and metabolic diseases we face in our country. His premise is that we are eating far too much sugar for our body to take in and adequately use or need.


The program can be found at the following link.  It is available to listen to as an online archive.  The title of this broadcast was Should Sugar Be Regulated Like Alcohol and played on February 17, 2012.  http://www.sciencefriday.com/program/archives/201202172

The average American drinks 57 gallons of soda (soft drinks) per year or about 600 cans. We consume 457 added calories of sugar every day. It doesn't just stop in the readily seen forms of sugar.  It is in more products than you may realize.  All you have to do is begin reading food labels and you'll see what I mean.

One example I have seen recently is a canned peas. Del Monte (and maybe the others as well) actually add sugar to the canned peas. When I wrote and inquired about this, they said "The natural sugar present in peas is diluted by the liquids used in processing. Sugar in the form of sucrose is added to bring the flavor back to its natural level of sweetness." Ouch! so I'm eating an additional 4 grams of sugar just by eating my vegetables if I choose to consume canned peas. I think I'll stick with the product grown in my garden.

Food is inherently healthy for us but when we cook, freeze, process, microwave it and add things like sugar to it, we drastically alter it. We claim we are still eating something nutritious for our body, but we fail to see just how toxic the food we eat has become.

Another tidbit of information from this radio program was that when you see sugar on a package, it is one of 6 types. There is no way of course to know which type it is according to the food label. It may either be glucose or dextrose like in Karo Syrup, or galactose which is a component of milk sugar, or fructose which gives us the sweet aspect of sugar that we desire. It may also be a combination of glucose such as maltose, or glucose plus lactose which gives us sucrose (commonly known as cane or table sugar). Each of these types of sugars hits our body in different ways and our liver metabolizes them differently. It is unfortunate that the food labeling does not allow you to see exactly what is being used in the food product.

While fructose helps add taste and shelf life to products, our current food supply is over saturated and has become toxic because of fructose.

The only way we can reverse this or change the effects of sugar in our population is the reduction in consumption. It is important to note that we can become addicted to sugar and develop a dependency on it just like heroin, alcohol, and nicotine. The same area of the brain is affected by sugar in the same way as all of these substances.

I found it interesting to consider the evolutionary development of sugar and our body. The example that Robert Lustig gave was many years ago, everyone got their fill of sugar in one month a year at harvest. It was when fruit fell to the ground. During this time, people would gorge themselves on sugar and increase the fat stores within their body. Of course, the next 4 months falling the fall harvest was winter when food was scarce. The extra weight that these people put on during the time in the fall, got them through the winter. Today though, we have a constant supply of sugar in high amounts and our bodies do not need as much as we take in.

While I may not agree that we need to regulate sugar by our government, we all need to wake up. If you are not thinking about sugar intake in your every day food consumption, you need to wake up. Start reading labels and see just how much sugar, high fructose corn syrup or other sweeteners are added into the products you buy.  You will be surprised. Work to cut down on soda and sugar flavored drinks that add very little value to your body. Swap these things with good old fashioned water which your body and your mind drastically need. Introduce yourself to whole and natural foods like produce or meals that you prepare at home. Any one of these things you do can dramatically help improve the health of your body. It does take a different mindset to do this, but by all means don't wait until some medical emergency gets your attention to wake up!

One of the things we do in our house is a daily whole food smoothie. You can read more about it in the following blog post. http://mindbodythoughts.blogspot.com/2009/08/food-based-healing-smoothies.html

I also realize that there are organizations pushing High Fructose Corn Syrup as something that is not harmful to our body. My entire thought on their substance is that we don't need all this sugar in the first place, and so why do we need a manufactured substance that may have other harmful benefits not currently known to humans. You can read more about this subject on a blog post I wrote in regards to agave nectar. http://mindbodythoughts.blogspot.com/2010/06/agave-nectar-high-fructose-health-food.html

At the end of the day, we all make choices for our life. If we choose to eat high amounts of sugar, we are going to pay the price for it. Sooner or later, it will catch up with us.  Remember, we only get one body in this life time.  Let's make the most of our body, mind and soul!




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2 comments:

  1. Don, LOVE love love this post and so glad you shared. It's a topic again very close to my heart and I completely agree that we consume far too much sugar in ways we never even think about. It's one of the reasons I'm pushing "from-scratch" cooking so hard, because I believe if more of us made our own food starting with fresh ingredients, we could better control what goes into it.

    Personally, my bf and I have cut out all soda (very rare exceptions) and we don't eat out of cans or jars (again rare exceptions). And I love your post on smoothies... they're a great way to pack in nutrition without the refined sugar rush...

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  2. @javelin Warrior - Yep, some times I get a strong craving for sugar but usually it is when something is stressing me out or hitting me emotionally. Compared to most in this country, we don't eat as much sugar. I love the cooking from scratch and I try to do that as much as I possibly can. The food tastes so much better when you prepare it yourself.

    Those smoothies help "digestion" and "excretion" considerably. They also keep us much more healthy and we do not get colds/flu like most of society any more. It is a good burst of energy in the morning and the enzymes in raw foods like this really do wonders for the body. If you go to qigong.com, you can read about his views on smoothies which is where I picked all of this information up.

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