There are endless sugar references in pop culture, so many, in fact, that you could likely mouth several song lyrics, sayings and movie lines off the top of your head: Sugar and spice and everything nice or A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down and The Rolling Stones tune Brown Sugar are the first three that came to me.
We just returned from an invigorating vacation, two days in Vegas and four in Zion National Park. Savoring the vistas and clean fresh air of Utah’s first National Park is something that did wonders for our health and enjoyment.
Vegas is a different type of destination. That’s not surprising, unless you’re a child seeing it for the first time. Our younger son, who exclaimed:
“I want to move to Vegas!”
The neon-lit night sky, bustling crowds, the High Roller (formerly the world’s biggest Ferris wheel at 550 feet), and that eye-catching candy store on S. Las Vegas Blvd, just steps from the High Roller, had a hypnotic effect on him. Vegas also has that effect on millions of people, even drawing more than 19 million visitors in the Covid-impacted 2020!
Sugar’s Not-So-Sweet Truth
Sugary foods and drinks are strongly linked to obesity and diseases like type 2 diabetes and heart disease, the leading cause of death in the United States. Sugar is also linked to kidney disease, non-alcoholic liver disease, premature aging of the brain (Alzheimer’s), tooth decay, high blood pressure (can lead to Stroke), and unhealthy cholesterol levels.
Consuming too much sugar can adversely affect your health. Whole Foods such as vegetables, fruits, and grains have natural sugars, which offer a steady supply of energy to your cells. Added sugars, conversely, come in packaged foods and drinks. Your body does not need these types of sugars. Over the past three-plus decades, added sugar has been one of the leading culprits to America’s obesity epidemic.
Until more recently, added sugar consumption has been one of the most underestimated and underreported health risks. First, there’s a key difference between naturally-occurring sugar and added sugar. Added sugar refers to any type of sweetener or sugar added to foods or drinks during processing or preparation.
How much is too much?
The American Heart Association recommends no more than 100 calories of added sugar: six teaspoons for women and nine teaspoons for men. Children and teens should consume no more than six teaspoons per day. However, average Americans consume nearly 20 teaspoons (about 82 grams) of added sugar daily. All of this extra added sugar increases the risks of major health problems, like cardiovascular disease, which is the world’s number one cause of death.
Some Hard Truths About Added Sugar
Added sugars include:
- White and Brown
- Corn Syrup
- High-Fructose Corn Syrup
- Fruit Juice Concentrates
- Lastly, all sugar molecules ending in ose: like dextrose, glucose, lactose, fructose, sucrose and maltose.
Added sugar has infested most of our food and food-like options:
One 12-ounce can of soda contains (on average) 38 grams of it. One chocolate candy bar has 20 grams of added it, one granola bar has nine grams of added sugar, just one tablespoon of store-bought salad dressing has four grams of it, one slice of white bread has two grams of it, just one half a cup of vanilla ice cream has a whopping 14 grams of it.
The liquid form is the worst
- Top source of added sugar
- Comprises 36 percent of the added sugar Americans consume
- Goes straight to your bloodstream, causing a dangerous sugar overload
What you can do about it…
- Cut down now, wherever and whenever you can.
- Added sugars means added calories without nutrition benefits.
- Stop consuming, or limit soda and processed foods as much as you can, and enjoy sweets in moderation.
If you feel overwhelmed by the prospect of consuming healthier foods and how to make it as tasty as it can be enjoyable contact your wellness professionals at Optimal Wellness Living. Together we can do this!