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.
Added 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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