Sugar is absolutely delicious. Ask anybody and they will tell you how yummy and wonderful sugar tastes when they eat it. It’s sweet, it’s addictive and it’s hurting your body from the inside out.
Keep reading to find out the ways sugar is harming your body and why you don’t realize how much of it you’re really consuming.
You’ve heard this same song and dance in the past, we know. However, we want to help you understand just what it is sugar is doing to your body, and then we’re going to give you some steps on how to cut it out of your diet completely.
Some Sugar is Good For You
Before we start, let’s just get it out there. Yes, there are some sugars that aren’t bad for you. The sugar found naturally in fruits, vegetables and dairy products as fructose or lactose won’t hurt you. In fact, your body needs these sugars for energy.
However, sugar is added to countless processed foods for flavor, color and texture. Too much of this type of sugar leads to ill health effects including weight gain, increased blood sugar, metabolic syndrome, premature aging and even cancer.
Current recommendation for added sugar consumption is no more than six teaspoons a day for women and no more than nine for men. Unfortunately in our society the average person eats anywhere between 13-20 teaspoons of added sugar each day, which is two to three times the recommended limit.
Sugar is a Silent Killer
Sugar is known as the silent killer for a reason. Consuming too much of it can increase the overall risk for heart disease in a person. It can also affect the pumping mechanism of your heart, which means that your heart can fail because it’s working too hard. Glucose in sugar is responsible for changing the muscle protein of the heart. That’s right, sugar is changing your heart’s very makeup, which is why you should be careful with how much you consume on a daily basis.
There is also a link between sugar and the condition called leptin resistance. Leptin is the hormone that tells you when you’ve eaten enough food, but when you eat too much sugar the signal never makes it to your brain. This leads to overeating, which of course leads to weight gain and eventual obesity. There’s a reason they say you can’t out train a bad diet, and speaking of which…
Sugar Promotes Belly Fat
We made a post recently about how the obesity rate is rising at an alarming rate in current years, and sugar is one of the culprits. One way that weight gain shows itself is with weight gain in the trunk of the body, or, the stomach and sides. Fructose-filled beverages are to blame here; studies show that children who drink excess fructose have more mature fat cells, which means a bigger belly and bigger risk for heart disease and diabetes later in life.
And beyond that, sugar addiction is actually genetic. That is why it’s so important to watch your sugar intake now, otherwise you may pass your habits on to your kids. Part of lowering the world’s obesity rate is helping the younger generations learn better eating habits.
Now, let’s get into HOW you can make better habits when it comes to sugar.
Read Nutrition Labels
This one might seem obvious, but you’re probably not doing it anyways. You’d be surprised how much sugar is in some of the things you eat and drink every day.
Every packaged food product has a nutrition label that tells the number of grams of sugar per serving and lists the added sugar ingredients. Food manufacturers make this complicated, using 56 different names for added sugars. It’s their way of keeping you from avoiding their excessively sweet foods.
If you’re not sure if the sugar content is natural or added, naturally occurring sugars aren’t listed in the ingredients and the ingredients are listed in order from most amount in the food to the least. Look out for words ending in –ose, corn syrup, high-fructose corn syrup, corn syrup solids, cane syrup and molasses.
Don’t think just because a food isn’t sweet that it isn’t made with sugar, either. Added sugar is lurking in salad dressing, ketchup, protein bars, yogurt, bread, tomato sauce and cereal.
Drink More Water, Eat More Fruit
A large majority of the added sugar people consume is found in drinks such as sodas, juices, sweet teas, flavored coffees, lemonade and sports drinks. Just one 12-ounce can of regular Coke contains 9.3 teaspoons of sugar. That’s more than the daily recommendation, so you can see how easy it is to overdo it without even thinking about it.
By drinking only water, unsweetened tea, black coffee or milk and you’ll greatly reduce the amount of added sugar in your diet.
However, when your sweet tooth is driving you crazy, there’s an easy fix. Give in and eat a piece of fruit to satisfy your craving. Fruit may be high in sugar, but it’s the natural kind, so you don’t need to worry too much. Keep fresh or dried fruit on hand for a healthy, sweet snack that’s also high in fiber. But as with all things, be careful not to overdo it on sweet fruits, as even they can add to your waistline if not eaten in moderation.