What was once referred to as sugar and spice and everything nice, we’re learning is more than just “not good” for you but is in fact harmful. Some researchers are now claiming that sweet taste of sugar is toxic to the body.
The average American consumes 130 pounds of sugar each year. Many do not even realize that they are consuming such large quantities because the sugar is hidden in many of our everyday foods sugar as yogurt and bread. Beyond the traditional table sugar, processed and refined sugars such as high fructose corn syrup contributes to the almost 1/3 pound of sugar we ingest daily.
Consumption of large amounts of sugars can be overwhelming and damaging to the body. Once ingested, sugar needs to either be utilized by the body’s cells or stored for later use. The function of sugar storage by the liver results in some sugars being converted into fats that contribute to the increased production of low-density lipoproteins (LDL), also known as “bad cholesterol.” With an increased amount of LDL circulating in the body, it causes vascular inflammation and clogs arteries that contribute to high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke. And as if that’s not enough, the large amounts of sugars and empty calories can also hasten diabetes and obesity.
So how does one avoid a bittersweet death?
Eat fresh foods. Not all sugars are created equally. Natural foods such as fresh fruits and vegetables do provide sugars too, however they also supply micronutrients and fiber that provide for steady blood glucose levels unlike soda, a quick liquid dump of easily absorbed sugars.
Read your food labels. Be cognizant of what you’re eating. Watch out for the hidden sugars and make healthier choices.
Exercise regularly. Once sugar is ingested, it needs to be utilized or stored. The heart healthy recommendation for exercise is 30 minutes/day, 5 days/week. Sugar is an energy source that was intended to be used. Use it!
Try artificial sweeteners. Although some have received a bad rap in the past, when used in moderation they are a safe and FDA approved method of eliminating empty calories while still providing the sweet taste your taste buds desire. They also do not increase your blood sugar levels like other forms of sugar.
So think twice before you take your next bite. What are you really eating? My mantra and the motto I share with my patients is this: Don’t live to eat. Eat to live! Don’t let your sweet tooth be the death of you.