Sugar: The Silent Killer?

We all know that high levels of sugar in your diet may be harmful to your health, so why do we consume so much of it?!

Because it is much more addictive than we once thought, activating your dopamine response (pleasure center), which is reminiscent of addictive drugs like cocaine. The more you consume, the less reward you feel; therefore you consume more in order to feel the same satisfaction. According to many studies, the average American consumes approximately 130 pounds of added sugar (i.e. a combination of sugar and high fructose corn syrup) per year, which is 1/3 of a pound per day!

 

Over the years, sugar intake has decreased by 40%, however high fructose corn syrup intake has increased and both are toxic because they contain the sweet and irresistible fructose. The problem is our overconsumption of it and the origin (i.e. fresh fruit vs. high fructose corn syrup). Fructose coming fresh fruits is healthy when eaten in moderation because it loaded with fiber, which slows the absorption and insulin response. Hidden sugars can be found in many foods such as yogurt, sauces, bread, and even peanut butter! Low fat/diet foods take out the fat, and replace it with sugar for flavor. Excessive sugar intake also increases your risk of obesity, Type II diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, and some cancers. Many of these diseases are caused by lifestyle choices. Dr. Robert Lustig; a pediatric endocrinologist at the University of California San Francisco reports “75% of it is preventable.”

New research done by Lustig suggests, “Sugar is toxic.” Lustig started an anti-sugar campaign called “Sugar: The Bitter Truth” in 2009 with 2.3 million+ views from his posted you tube lecture. He discusses the idea that excess sugar puts stress on the liver and when it is overloaded, some sugar is converted into fat in the body. When excess sugar is in the bloodstream, it is then converted into the harmful small dense LDL cholesterol, which forms plaque and is associated with increased risk of heart disease. A very scary thought many Americans are unaware of!

 

Please click this link to watch this informative video of Dr. Sanjay Gupta that aired on CBS’ 60 Minutes in April 2012. It gives the analogy that sugar should be treated no differently than alcohol or tobacco, and is a serious issue for American’s. Lifestyle behavior modifications and a balanced diet are extremely important! The American Heart Association sets a recommended intake of sugar to no more than 150 calories (~9 teaspoons) per day for men and no more than 100 calories (6.25 teaspoons) per day for women. This is less than the amount of sugar in a single can of coke, so it’s important to choose your sugars wisely!

 

 

Start today on a new path, and opt for a high fiber cereal and fresh fruit such as Kashi Go Lean or unsweetened granola (fresh from the farmer’s market!) topped with fresh blueberries instead of refined sugars such as donuts or pastries. To learn more about a balanced diet, low in sugar to suit your specific needs, contact Courtney Walberg, Registered Dietitian, Certified Personal Trainer and Founder of Nutrition For Body and Mind.