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Sugar: More Addictive than Drugs?

We talked recently about the dangers of sugar — an ingredient (among others) that is killing us! 

A friend of ours — Jeff O’Connell — just published a book, Sugar Nation: The Hidden Truth Behind America’s Deadliest Habit and the Simple Way to Beat It, that is starting to gain some serious attention about this very topic.  Interestingly, Jeff has type 2 diabetes — but at 6’6, very lean and active, he’s certainly not your "typical" type 2 diabetes patient. 

So in the book he talks to a ton of researchers, physicians and others looking deeper at some of the causes of the disease that’s growing by 7,000 people PER DAY. 

Well, Americans are certainly eating enough sugar to make it toxic.  While surely there are some controversial nutrition recommendations in the book, it’s important to look at some facts about sugar. 

sugar is toxicAdded sugars make up about 16% of total calories in the American Diet — SIXTEEN!  That means 16% of the American Diet is not just void of ANY nutrients whatsoever, but it’s filled with completely useless calories.


And ‘added sugars’ means sugars from any source — white sugar, brown sugar, organic sugar, high fructose corn syrup, soda, honey, organic cane sugar, etc.  The sugars mainly found in processed foods are added sugars and so are any sugars you personally add.  Basically, any sugar that’s not naturally found in foods like fruits, veggies or dairy products so don’t use these new "rules" as a way to say you have to stop eating fruits and veggies.  That’s taking smart guidelines and applying them to what you may want to hear.


Just to give you an idea — here are a few of the major culprits of added sugar in Americans’ diets.


  • Soda, energy drinks, sports drinks: 36% contribution to total added sugar intake
  • Cakes, cookies, pies: 13%
  • Fruit drinks and “-ades” (not 100% fruit juice): 10.5%

Sugar has earned a spot on the AHA’s black list — saying it’s basically a "negative nutrient" that needs to be limited for your heart’s sake (and, really, every other organ in your body too).

The AHA recommends that added sugar intake be limited to 100 calories (25 grams, or 6 teaspoons) per day for women and to 150 calories (about 37 grams, or 9 teaspoons) per day for men.  To be honest, even less would be even better…the less, the better. 

Keep in mind that now, the average American eats over 350 calories each day in sugar alone (about 22 teaspoons,or nearly 3-12 oz cans of soda)!  Talk about a way to make sure you gaining belly fat and ruining your health!

Added sugars have NO place in your body whatsoever.  NONE.  ZERO.  ZIP.  (NOTE: for certain athletes, sports drinks and post workout drinks CAN play a role, but that’s not the majority of the population).  Unfortunately the majority of the population are those who still drink too many of those things yet don’t move their bodies.

Here’s the deal.

Adding sugar to your diet is like pouring mud down your throat.  Gross, right?  Yeah, they have about the same amount of nutrients — actually, the mud probably has more!

The study I’m referring to was published in AHA’s Scientific Journal, Circulation … and they talk about the link between high sugar intake and insulin resistance, high blood pressure, high triglycerides, and type 2 diabetes.  Of course we can also point to the increase in belly fat from eating too much sugar, which can lead to basically every other disease known to man.

Very simply, we are OVERFED YET UNDERNOURISHED!!!  And added sugars need to go.

In fact, the AHA has a very strong conclusion in their study: "There is sufficient evidence to link excessive sugar intake to the pandemic of obesity and cardiovascular disease."

Scary stuff.  That is, unless you’re not "in the know."

Tricks to limit added sugars

This is what we do to limit added sugars and make sure we don’t throw ouroverall "diet" in the toilet.

  • Eat whole foods with a max of 5 ingredients each (preferably just 1 ingredient) — fruits, vegetables, raw nuts, whole grains, & fish, as each are void of added sugars.
  • If it comes in a package, leave it on the shelf (think snacks, pastries, cookies, most breakfast cereals, etc)
  • Leave foods on the shelf if they have any of these as the first few ingredients: brown sugar, corn sweetener, corn syrup, sugar (dextrose, fructose, glucose, sucrose), high-fructose corn syrup, honey, invert sugar, malt sugar, molasses, raw sugar, syrup.

Kudos to the American Heart Association … most governing bodies haven’t stepped it up and made such a bold move.

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8 Responses to Sugar: More Addictive than Drugs?

  1. Dan Sopher March 4, 2011 at 1:30 pm #

    I’m so glad the AHA stepped up to the plate! I did a research paper called “The White Plague” which documented all the health risks associated with high sugar diets. Hyperactivity & tooth decay are also rampant among very young children, and it is difficult to get kids to eat right when a majority of thier friends have junk. Some posts suggested nuts and peanut butter on celery or sandwiches. My daughter’s scchool wont allow any nuts in the lunchbag – ARGHH. But plenty of other good alternatives.
    Great Blog!
    Thanks Chris & Kara!

  2. Tracy April 18, 2011 at 11:12 am #

    I’m so glad to hear this because I love oranges and I eat a lot of them, along with my veggies and lean deer meat.

  3. Shannon April 18, 2011 at 12:01 pm #

    Could you recommend a clean meal replacement shake? I can’t seem to locate one without some form of added sugar.

    • Chris and Kara Mohr April 18, 2011 at 12:04 pm #

      Full Strength by Shawn Phillips (– a little pricey, but quality ingredients compared to most I’ve seen and tried. You can also get a quality whey protein and add your own fruit to make a homemade MRP.

  4. Mzteaze April 18, 2011 at 12:23 pm #

    Craving it is so true. I find that I have to avoid completely because the craving then overating is harder than just avoiding.

  5. Bob Yarbrough August 10, 2011 at 8:18 am #

    Great information. Another example of our food suppliers trying to kill us.

  6. J'Lynn McCreery August 23, 2011 at 8:45 am #

    I started watching my sugar intake and eliminating all high fructose corn syrup and “processed” products, like you said leave it on teh shelf, and my weight loss went from struggeling to lose 10 lbs in 2months…. to literally 35 lbs over the next 2 months. I kept the same work out routing (in fact, prolly less, as it’s summer and i’m just on the go) so I am a total advocate of eat natural sugars and “leave the rest on the shelf”. A great side effect, was my grocery bill went from 80-120/every week, down to around 35 every week. Glad to see an article that helps me “bring the topic” to my friends and family members.

  7. Lizzette Manylath May 3, 2012 at 12:10 am #

    You actually make it appear really easy with your presentation but I find this topic to be actually one thing which I believe I’d by no means understand. It seems too complicated and extremely extensive for me. I’m looking forward to your next publish, I’ll attempt to get the cling of it!

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