sugarBy Lisa Metzgar, PhD – Nutrition Tidbits

 

In April, 60 Minutes ran a story about sugar…it was one of the most compelling stories that I have seen regarding the dangers of sugar to our health.

In 1905 the average American ate about 5 pounds of sugar per year…any guesses on how much we eat on average now?  It is up to 130+ pounds per year!  That is completely shocking to me!

How is it that we eat so much sugar now?  There is so much sugar in the foods that we eat, even hidden sugar that you would not expect.  Some of the foods that are loaded with sugar are: yogurts, bread, sauces, and even peanut butter.  If you look at labels when you shop you will see how laden these foods are with added sugar.  Just do a little math…One teaspoon of sugar contains 4 grams of sugar.  Just look at your kid’s 6oz juice pack of Natural All Juice.  It contains 20 grams of sugar which is 5 teaspoons in that little amount of juice.

Dr. Lustig, a pediatric endocrinologist, from the University of California San Francisco, talks about how sugar is leading to obesity, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and hypertension…even in our teens.  One in 4 teens today are pre-diabetic or have type 2 diabetes.  It was once thought that it was fats, especially saturated fats, that led to heart disease but we are now finding that sugar is a bigger factor.  We started eating low fat foods thinking we would help fight heart disease and yet we have more metabolic diseases than ever.  When they took the fat out of our “low fat” foods, they added sugar to make it taste good. This is an epidemic that we need to address…for the sake of our children.

There is a good reason why we crave sugar.  Genetically we are designed to get pleasure from sugar.  In nature, nothing that is sweet to the taste is poisonous…therefore, we seek it out.  It is also a great source of energy.  The difference between the caveman eating sweets and the way we eat them now is the caveman ate a piece of fruit that had a small amount of sugar and other beneficial ingredients like fiber, vitamins, minerals, and enzymes.  We eat processed foods and sugar rich sweet treats that contain much more sugar than anything natural.  The brain releases dopamine which is a chemical that makes us feel pleasure when we eat sugar…so we tend to overeat it as an addiction.  Just like a drug, the more sugar you eat, the more tolerance you build up, and the more you want to eat to get to that pleasure feeling.

 

Studies are being done on how sugary drinks affect our health.  They found in a group of healthy college students that in just 2 weeks of drinking sugary drinks on a daily basis, their blood LDL levels were elevated.  LDL cholesterol is the bad cholesterol that sticks to your arteries.  The liver gets overloaded with the sugar then releases LDL into the blood stream.

 

Even cancer cells feed on sugar.  Some cancer cells have insulin receptors on them that helps them feed on your blood glucose to grow.

 

The key to healthy eating is to limit the amount of processed foods.  Prepare your food fresh and make sure you are reading labels when you shop.

Here is a YouTube link to the story on 60 Minutes:  http://youtu.be/pxG3YiBMMZE

 

 

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