Fitness Facts: Cut the sugar!
By Connie Colbert
Director, Canyon Health and Wellness Clinic
The average American consumes an average of 20 teaspoons of added sugar daily compared to the recommendation of six teaspoons for women and nine teaspoons for men.
According to WebMD.com, sugary drinks, candy, baked goods, and sweetened dairy are the main sources of added sugar. But even savory foods, such as breads, tomato sauce and protein bars, can have sugar, making it all too easy to end up with a surplus of the sweet stuff. To complicate it further, added sugars can be hard to spot on nutrition labels because they can be listed under a number of names, such as corn syrup, agave nectar, palm sugar, cane juice or sucrose.
- Brown sugar
- Corn sweetener
- Fruit juice concentrates
- High fructose corn syrup
- Invert sugar
- Malt sugar
- Raw sugar
- Sugar molecules ending in “ose” (dextrose, fructose, glucose, lactose, maltose, sucrose)
Whatever the name, sugar can have a negative effect on our overall health and wellbeing.
According to WebMD, sugar can influence our brain, mood, teeth and weight, to name a few.
Your brain: Sugar releases a chemical in the brain called dopamine, which causes you to feel good. Fruits and vegetables do not increase this chemical as much, so this is why you crave that afternoon candy bar or after dinner sweet. The problem is your brain needs more and more to get the same feeling, thus causing you to increase your sugar intake.
Your mood: Studies have shown that a diet high in sugar lends to an increased risk of depression. Often, we get a surge of energy from the sugar and then a crash several hours later, leading to a jittery, anxious feeling.
Your heart: According to WebMd.com, people who eat a lot of added sugar (where at least 25 percent of their calories come from added sugar) are twice as likely to die of heart disease as those whose diets include less than 10 percent of total calories from added sugar.
Your teeth: Bacteria that live in your mouth eat the sugar that remains in your mouth after eating, thus causing tooth decay.
Your joints: If you have joint pain, sugar can make it worse. Sugar causes inflammation in our body that can most often affect our joints. Studies have shown that eating large amounts of sugar can increase your risk of rheumatoid arthritis.
Your weight: It is proven that the more sugar you eat the more you will weigh. Sugary drinks are often the culprit for excessive sugar intake. One 16-ounce bottle equals 16.5 teaspoons of sugar. Eliminating high sugar items from your daily diet can greatly impact your weight.
Also, be careful of the low calorie, low fat alternatives offered in the store. These products often contain more sugar to replace the fat and calories.
Always read labels! You will be surprised at how much sugar is in the food you eat!
With any lifestyle change, take a look at where you are now and take the steps to eliminate the most sugary foods in your day!