Sugar. High Fructose Corn Syrup. Fructose. Sucrose. Sucralose. Artificial Sweeteners. Natural Sweeteners. Agave. Honey. Splenda. Stevia. We all pretty much know that we American's eat WAY TOO MUCH sugar. But how do we sort it all out? And how can we still enjoy sweet things without killing ourselves in the process? Since we're in the midst of the sweetest season of the year, I thought I would compile some easy to understand facts about sugar and sweeteners so you can be "in the know" and try to make some healthier choices this season and in the upcoming year.
the facts about sugar
First, from the all-knowing Wikipedia: Sugar is the generalized name for a class of chemically-related sweet-flavored substances, most of which are used as food. They are carbohydrates, composed of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen.
The average American adult consumes 22 teaspoons of sugar A DAY. American teens? Try 34 teaspoons! That is almost 3/4 of a cup of sugar every day.
What's the healthy goal? 6 tsps a day. That's the amount in 8 oz of fruit flavored yogurt!
Sugar disguises itself in hundreds of different terms. Look out for any word ending in -ose, also beware of any kind of "syrup", cane juice, nectar, HFCS. Organic, natural or real don't mean there is any less sugar.
Sugar is as addictive as cocaine! Not only does eating sugary things make you want more sugary things - it also is a huge cause of inflammation. Do you know what inflammation causes? Diabetes, Heart Disease and numerous other chronic diseases.
Refined sugar intake is also linked to insomnia, dizziness, hypoglycemia, tooth decay, ADD/ADHD, hair loss, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, type II diabetes, obesity, metabolic syndrome, depression, hair loss and cancer. YIKES!
Sugar consumption has increased greatly since the invention of High Fructose Corn Syrup (don't you think if we have to invent it, we shouldn't eat it?) and since the low-fat craze of the 90's. When food manufacturers tried to eliminate fat, the products tasted horrible. So they added sugar. But guess what guys...sugar is converted to fat in your body so I guess it's really a lose-lose situation!
If you are interested in the science behind sugar and what it actually does to your body, I highly recommend this video - it's science-y without being a foreign language and explains how sugar is the cornerstone to the obesity epidemic. Hop on a bike or elliptical and start watching! It's totally worth the 90 minutes.
some healthy tips
Have you heard enough? Are you ready to reduce your sugar intake? You don't have to go cold-turkey (I had to once for some gut-health issues - it's HARD!) but making small steps can make a big difference in your health. The cool thing too, is once you stop eating (or drinking) so much sugar you actually stop wanting it so much!
1. Replace one soda a day with milk or water. I like San Pelligrino for a treat!
2. Use applesauce to replace some sugar in your favorite recipe. I buy the packs of 6 cups of unsweetened applesauce at Walmart (it's really cheap there). I almost always use a 1/2 cup as a replacement in recipes so you don't even have to measure!
3. Eat real foods. The less you eat from a package, the less sugar there will be, hands down. Naturally occurring sugars in fruits and dairy products are ok. Can you think of any REAL food with sugar?
4. During the holidays, pick and enjoy your favorite treats. If you could take it or leave it...leave it!
5. I always vote for the real thing (even if it's sugar) rather than artificial substitutes. I would much rather consume a little bit of real sugar than some factory made chemical sweetener.
what about you?
Do you use sugar replacements in your kitchen?
Have you ever gone on a sugar cleanse?
It's great to see you! I'm Alyssa and I blog about all the things I've found "essential" in my life as a fit mama and football coach's wife. You'll find all kinds of fun stuff here like workouts, oily info, football stories and more!
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I am not a licensed medical professional. All views expressed on this website are based on my own personal research and experiences. Please consult your doctor with any medical issues before beginning a training program.
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