Many people ask me the number one thing they can do to become healthier----what's the magic bullet of a healthy lifestyle? My answer----Stop with the sugar!
We eat more sugar today than ever before
When I tell people to stop eating sugar, many nod their heads in approval and say, "Oh yea, I don't eat a lot of sugar," or "that makes sense!". However, most people don't realize how much of the stuff they are really eating.
In 1822, the average American ate the amount of sugar found in one of today's 12-ounce sodas every 5 days. Today, we eat that much sugar every 7 hours. Take a moment to breathe that in...today we eat almost 120 pounds of sugar per year, per person. In 1820 that number was around 7 pounds. And no, that number is not skewed by the competitive eaters or the Honey Boo Boo's of the world---- you are probably eating that much sugar.
While you may judge a family for letting their 6 year old chug Mountain Dew like it's her job, many people don't realize how much sugar is in the glass of fruit juice they just gave their little one. One glass of Minute Maid apple juice can have 66 grams of fructose per liter. To compare, Coca-Cola has 62.5 grams of fructose per liter and Dr. Pepper has 61 grams of fructose. That's a LOT of sugar! The World Health Organization says that we should be getting (at most) 25 grams of sugar per day, or 5 teaspoons. And fructose---a form of sugar---is shown to be converted entirely in the liver where it is converted to fat, which increases the risk for fatty liver disease (found mostly in alcoholics until now), diabetes and heart disease.
Sugar is EVERYWHERE
Before you pat yourself on the back and tell me you don't eat a lot of sweets or candy, let me tell you how prolific sugar consumption is. Sugar is not relegated to your cakes, sodas, candy's or your annual Krispy Kreme binges anymore. Sugar is in everything from ketchup, salad dressings and bbq sauces all the way to your multigrain bread, crackers, and basically any processed food you can imagine. Those healthy smoothies that you always get? SUGAR BOMB. The healthy "protein bar" that you eat after your workout----sugar. What about your sausages or other processed meats? Most likely there was sugar added. When you tally up the numbers at the end of the day, you are most likely eating more sugar than Stevie Nick's did cocaine (Sorry Stevie--I really love you).
Sugar is as addictive than Cocaine
Recent research has been showing that sugar is a difficult habit to kick. You know the feeling, the one where your thoughts turn to chocolate kisses while you watch your favorite daytime Soap. Daytime romance is always better with Haggendaz. Just thinking about the chocolate in your mouth makes your mouth water and your body tingle---and what's the harm in one anyways? Just one, you whisper to yourself. I'll have just one...
NO, you can't just have one. This is the thought process of a sweet tooth--- otherwise known as sugar addict. Recent research has shown that sugar is not just a simple, innocent habit to break but an addiction that rivals cocaine and heroin.
Bart Hoebel of Princeton has shown that rats eating large amounts of sugar when hungry, a phenomenon he describes as sugar-bingeing, undergo neuro-chemical changes in the brain that appear to mimic those produced by substances of abuse, including cocaine, morphine and nicotine. Sugar induces behavioral changes, too. "In certain models. sugar-bingeing causes long-lasting effects in the brain and increases the inclination to take other drugs of abuse, such as alcohol."
Are you addicted?
We Weren't Supposed To Eat This Way
Back in the day (you know, caveman days) we had little to no access to sugar. Our ancestors were lucky to get their mitts on something as sweet as a carrot, because who doesn't love carrot cake? When it came to survival, sugar was everything. Sugar signaled the body to store fat which was a necessity in times of depravity. When our bodies stored fat, we had a chance to survive another day---it was an advantage rather than a hinderance. We have evolved to crave sweets, because it meant survival. But the difference between then and now is that we are eating sugar in absolutely everything, and storing fat like crazy. No child wants a carrot stick for dessert--- they want ice cream on top of cake drizzled with chocolate and gummy bears with a cherry on top. They want the fantastic high that only sugar can bring about with whipped cream up their nose and frosting caked on their lips. Can you imagine a carrot stick hangover? Me neither.
It's time to drop the sugar. It's time to look at every label of food you buy at the grocery store and make sure there are no added sugars. Sugar is big business, and food companies love to hide sugar in almost every food, with sugar coming in over 50 different names including but not limited to;
Anhydrous dextrose, brown sugar, cane crystals, corn sweetener, corn syrup, corn syrup solids crystal dextrose, evaporated cane juice, fructose sweetener, fruit juice concentrates, high-fructose corn syrup, honey, liquid fructose, malt syrup, maple syrup, molasses, pancake syrup, raw sugar, sugar, syrup and white sugar, fructose, lactose, maltose, carbitol, concentrated fruit juice, diglycerides, disaccharides, evaporated cane juice, erythritol. Florida crystals, fructooligosaccharides, galactose, glucitol, glucoamine, hexitol, inversol, isomalt, maltodextrin, malted barley, malts, mannitol, nectars, pentose, raisin syrup, ribose rice syrup, rice malt, rice syrup solids, sorbitol, sorghum, sucanat, sucanet, xylitol and zylose. WHEW.
Still think you don't eat a lot of sugar? Next time you are at the supermarket look at how many grams of sugar are in each item you purchase. Add them all up and see how much you are eating per day.
Get used to the bitter truth my friends.