Sugar isn’t so Sweet
A major health crisis is occurring right before our eyes and one key player is the over-consumption of sugar. I have been wanting to write an article for a long time about the perils of sugar and was recently watching a great documentary titled ‘Fed Up’ by Katie Couric which inspired this…
How did so much sugar sneak into our food?
Decades ago there was controversial research that suggested eating fats may increase your chance of having a heart attack, raising your cholesterol and causing plaque to build up in your arteries. Food manufacturers jumped onto the bandwagon and started to remove fat from foods. Fat makes food taste really good. It is also satiating leaving the consumer feeling full. Now that a war on fat had begun the food manufacturers needed to add some things in to the fat free food to make it palatable again. A great way to make sure something tastes good is to add:
- Even worse – fake sugar like aspartame, acesufame k, sucralose
- Sodium including MSG and its many derivatives
- Thickening agents like corn starch, xanthan gum, locust bean gum
- Natural and artificial flavours
Sugar has been put into almost all processed food even though there were early warning signs of coronary heart disease (CHD) risk of sugar (sucrose) emerging as far back as the 1950s¹. If it comes in a package it almost certainly has sugar added. Take yogurt for example. I have written and lectured extensively about why fat-free foods are bad including yogurt. Fat free yogurt has had the best part removed! This makes it really runny so thickening agents like those listed above need to be added as well as sugar. Dairy products including yogurt already have sugar in the form of lactose and then a bunch of sugar and other garbage is added to the yogurt, especially if it is flavoured, but…
The majority of the population still believes fat-free foods are healthy choices!
Remember those commercials for breakfast cereal saying ‘part of a complete breakfast’ or a ‘well-balanced breakfast’. The complete breakfast was basically tons of sugar and a little protein and fat. Think about it:
- Orange juice – lots of natural sugar – not healthy because the fiber has been removed
- Toast – tons of carbs/sugar and potentially inflammatory grains like wheat
- Cereal – tons of carbs and likely tons of added sugar. Potentially inflammatory grains such as wheat
- Milk – sugar in the form of lactose
The only thing good about the above breakfast from a macromolecule perspective is there is hopefully some fat and protein in the milk (as long as it isn’t skim). The only other benefit is the cereal is likely fortified with some vitamins.
Other than that this breakfast is a horrible start to the morning as you will have basically reached your entire sugar intake for one day in the first meal!
Sugar Labelling Laxity
Apparently in Canada and the we have no upper limit on how much sugar we should take in. Yes you read that right. NO UPPER LIMIT HAS BEEN ESTABLISHED! That is why the nutritional label does not tell you the percentage Daily Value of sugar intake.
Take for example this kids cereal label…
What is missing is the % Daily Value of Sugar. What it should say based on 2015 World Health Organization Guidelines of 25g sugars per day is this…
What the fructose?! 40% in only one cup of a breakfast cereal! That is almost half your daily intake of sugars in one day and we haven’t even added milk to it yet or had a glass of juice! Ok so hopefully now I have your attention. Now check this out… Starbucks Frappuccino
As stated on that website: “That’s roughly the equivalent of drinking an entire one-liter bottle of coca cola, or scarfing down about thirty sugar cubes all at once. To be medically precise, it’s four times the recommended daily allowance of sugar for a human being.”
What happens if you take in more sugar than you need? Simple – the body is very smart – it stores all this extra energy as fat! So if you consistently over indulge in sugar than you will consistently pack on pounds of fat over the years unless you are burning enormous amounts through exercise. Another problem is that when you consistently take in too much sugar you become less sensitive to insulin (insulin resistance). This is textbook pre-diabetes on your way towards Type 2 Diabetes. Insulin tells your muscle and fat cells to take in sugar. Now over time your pancreas has to make increasing levels of insulin to handle all the sugar and can become burnt out over time. Sugar can no longer get into the cells the way it used to and builds up in your bloodstream.
Diabetes is a major cause of ²:
- kidney failure
- heart attacks
- lower limb amputation
Please, please do me and yourself a favor and start reading nutritional labels. Don’t buy products that have a lot of sugar in them or better yet – buy REAL FOOD that doesn’t require an ingredient list or a nutritional label.
Unless we start to become more aware of how much sugar we are taking in and make an effort to cut back Diabetes rates will continue to explode and place a major burden on society, health care, and quality of life.
Cut back on sugar today and preserve your heath for tomorrow!
- Kearns, C. E., Schmidt, L. A., & Glantz, S. A. (2016). Sugar industry and coronary heart disease research: a historical analysis of internal industry documents. JAMA internal medicine, 176(11), 1680-1685.