Sugar – One of our Biggest Addictors
Desiring sugar is quite natural! We have built-in taste buds for salt, sugar, bitterness, sour, and fat.
But there are MANY sources of sugar. The natural sugars found in whole plant foods promote health, while the added sugars found in refined, processed foods promote weight gain, inflammation, insulin resistance, and can even damage our arteries.
How much sugar are we eating?
Sugar consumption can be difficult to control because the food industry often adds it where consumers might not think to check.
The World Health Organization suggests getting no more than 5 percent of daily calories from sugar, or about 25 grams (6 teaspoons). The American Heart Association recommends women limit sugar consumption to 6 teaspoons (25 grams) per day and men limit to 9 teaspoons (36 grams) per day.
Other organizations have different limit suggestions.
But many people consume far more than the recommendations. The U.S. continues to be one of the highest sugar-consuming countries, with the average American now consuming over 22 teaspoons of sugar daily!
How does sugar cause inflammation?
The refined sugars found in soft drinks, fruit juice, sweet tea, pastries, desserts, cookies, candy, snack cakes, cereals, and even frozen entrees can stimulate the production of something called “free fatty acids” – which circulate through the bloodstream and trigger both insulin resistance and inflammation in the skeletal system, the liver, and the protective cells that line our arteries.
Sugar also triggers the release of inflammatory cytokine cells; just 40 grams of sugar per day (which is one can of pop) leads to an increase in inflammatory markers, weight gain, and increased LDL cholesterol.
Refined sugars also lead to the excess production of AGE’s – Advanced Glycation End Products – which form when protein or fat combine with sugar in the bloodstream. Having excess amounts of AGE’s harms the body’s cells and promotes oxidative stress and chronic inflammation.
Sugar can also contribute to “leaky gut” – another name for Intestinal Permeability. Leaky gut occurs when the lining of the small intestine becomes damaged, causing undigested food particles, toxins, and bacteria to ‘leak’ through the lining and into the bloodstream. This process triggers inflammatory reactions that cause problems in the digestive tract and beyond.
Lastly, sugar greatly contributes to weight gain, which in and of itself contributes to inflammation because our own fat tissues release those inflammatory cytokine cells mentioned earlier.
As you can see, processed, refined sugar is rated as a highly-inflammatory food for a number of reasons! And sugar is added to pretty much ALL of our packaged foods.
How Much Sugar is in That Item on the Shelf?
Here’s a quick label tip: When looking at a product’s nutrition label, remember that 4 grams of sugar = 1 tsp.
Find the number of sugar grams, and divide by 4. That’s the equivalent of how many teaspoons of sugar the product contains per serving.
So a soda containing 41 grams of sugar would contain 10 teaspoons of sugar (41 divided by 4 = roughly 10). Eye opening, right?
Be sure the check the serving size, too. If a product contains 12 grams of sugar per serving, and the packages has TWO servings, you’ll be ingesting 24 grams of sugar if you eat the whole package.
Note: Products can contain natural sugars (such as fruit), added sugars, or both. The Nutrition Facts Label will sometime separate natural and added sugars, but for the most part, the label will only show the TOTAL sugar grams. That’s why you’ll need to read the ingredient list to discover the SOURCE of the sugars.
You don’t have to give up Sweet Treats!
The good news is you do NOT have to give up the sweet flavors you enjoy. But you do have to make good choices regarding your sugar intake if you want to achieve and maintain a healthy body.
Fruits (bananas, mangos, cherries) and DATES are the absolute best sweeteners that can be used to make a variety of desserts! From cobblers, pies, puddings, and shakes, to banana splits, cupcakes, cookies, and muffins. Go to my resource page to find my recommended recipe websites.
And you can click below for some Dessert Smoothie Recipes you can enjoy guilt-free!
For more details on refined sugars, plus information on artificial sweeteners, natural sugars, and acceptable sugar substitutes, please check out my class titled “Inflammation and Your Diet.”
For a short time, use the coupon code TAKE OFF50 to get 50% off the class price.
Click here for a free copy of “10 Simple Dessert Smoothies” which contain ZERO refined sugar 🙂
It’s not smart to stuff yourself with sweets…
(Proverbs 25:27a, MSG)