Cutting Out Added Sugars
Health Problems Associated with the Consumption of Added Sugar
Added Sugar vs. Naturally-Occurring Sugar
Added sugar is sugar that is, simply put, "added" to a food or beverage during the processing stage for taste, texture, preservative effects and other reasons. This is different as opposed to naturally-occurring sugars, as the name suggests, because these are naturally found in the food/beverage. Naturally-occurring sugars tend to be found in higher amounts in things such as fruits, vegetables, and dairy products.
Both added sugar and naturally-occurring sugars are carbohydrates. The difference is that added sugars are simple carbohydrates that do not contain other vitamins and minerals, whereas naturally-occurring sugars, whether simple or complex carbohydrates, contain other beneficial vitamins and minerals. Therefore, added sugars tend to be empty calories that cause many unwanted issues, such as weight gain and health problems. On the other hand, naturally-occurring sugars are found with a healthy balance of other nutrients and therefore can be consumed on a daily basis.
What Happens Inside of the Body When Sugar is Consumed
Sugar, as a simple carbohydrate, enters the bloodstream and causes spikes in glucose levels. Frequent sugar consumption is bad for your body and your pancreas as it forces the pancreas to continually supply insulin to deal with the increased levels of glucose. Over time high sugar consumption can lead to pancreas problems and eventually to diabetes. This is because the continual firing of the pancreas will result in an eventual glucose-insensitivity (commonly referred to as insulin resistance), causing the pancreas to perform inefficiently.
The amount of added sugar in a regular can of coca-cola is 39g, even more than the daily recommended maximum!
How Much is Too Much?
In an ideal world one would not consume any added sugars and they would be completely removed from his/her diet. However, this can seem virtually impossible in today's age of seemingly infinite numbers of processed, altered food substances that appear even in the least expected types of foods and drinks. This being said, consuming small amounts of added sugar is not the end of the world. The American Heart Association recommends consuming no more than 100 calories from sugar (roughly 24 grams) for women and no more than 150 calories from sugar (roughly 36 grams) for men on a daily basis. When you take into account the amount of added sugar found in all of the different items that an average American consumes on a daily basis, this number adds up to approximately 350 calories from sugar (roughly 84 grams)!
Recommended Max. Daily Sugar Consumption
Approximate Actual Daily Sugar Consumption
Are you willing to try a no-sugar-added diet?
My Personal Experience
Throughout the last few months I have done my best to cut out added sugars. On a daily basis I probably consume around 10 grams of added sugar total. I still consume many sources of natural sugar, including fruits, vegetables and dairy products. Not only have a noticed increases in my energy levels and mood but I have not been sick once; something that has never happened to me during the winter months! Trying out a no-added-sugar diet is definitely worth a try and I think anyone who does try it will be pleasantly surprised with the results!
Although honey is a simple sugar that increases glucose levels in the body, honey is well known for its various health benefits. Therefore, exercise caution with consumption but do not be afraid to consume it every once in awhile! The same goes for agave nectar, brown sugar and maple syrup!
Make sure you read labels before you consume a product! Many products may surprise you with their hidden sugar content! This includes but is not limited to many fruit juices, sweets (obviously), various types of breads, yogurts, etc.
How to Spot Added Sugar on Labels
Companies are getting smarter by hiding added sugar on their nutrition labels as consumers are becoming more aware. Below is a list of various names added sugar can be listed as (including various forms of substitute sugar products that have the same health effect):
- Agave Nectar
- Barley Malt Syrup
- Beet Sugar
- Brown Rice Syrup
- Brown Sugar
- Cane Crystals (or, even better, "cane juice crystals")
- Cane Sugar
- Coconut Sugar, or Coconut Palm Sugar
- Corn sweetener
- Corn syrup, or corn syrup solids
- Dehydrated Cane Juice
- Evaporated Cane Juice
- Fruit juice concentrate
- High-fructose corn syrup
- Invert sugar
- Malt syrup
- Maple syrup
- Palm Sugar
- Raw sugar
- Rice Syrup
- Sorghum or sorghum syrup
- Turbinado Sugar