You might be wondering how a seemingly harmless sweetener like sugar can cause so much harm to your body. The truth is that sugar is not the only culprit here. In fact, most of the nutrition information you hear about sugar is probably not accurate. Modern processed foods are full of sugar, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Many of these foods are sugar-free or sugar-light. Even though these terms may sound rather unappealing, they refer to foods that are free of added sugars.
The processed food industry is a lot more sophisticated than you think. When you eat too many sugar-free foods, you can develop a taste for sugar. This means that your body will start craving other sweet foods, even though you’re already eating a healthy diet. Adopting a healthier, more whole-food-based diet will naturally result in a significant drop in your sugar intake. You should also aim to eliminate all added sugars from your diet. This means cutting out foods and beverages that are high in added sugars, such as sodas, energy drinks, fruit juices, desserts, and candy.
What is Sugar?
Sugar is a type of carbohydrate that is found in many plant and animal foods. It’s often added to processed foods as a sweetener. Sugar can be found in foods such as granulated sugar, brown sugar, confectioner’s sugar, raw sugar, turbinado sugar, and even honey.
Sugar can be found naturally in milk, fruit, vegetables, and honey. Pure, unprocessed sugar is found in its most natural state in milk and honey.
Health Risks of Eating Too Much Sugar
Here are a few of the health risks that can be associated with eating too much sugar:
- Diabetes. Diabetes is the most common endocrine disease in the world, and it’s caused by insulin resistance. Too much sugar in the diet can lead to metabolic diseases, such as Type 2 diabetes, which increase your risk for heart disease, kidney disease and eye problems.
- Weight Gain. Excess sugar is stored as fat in the liver and muscles, and this excess fat can lead to obesity. A high-sugar diet contributes to insulin resistance, which leads to chronic inflammation that promotes obesity, among other health issues.
- High Blood Pressure. Sugar can negatively impact blood pressure by increasing adrenaline levels in the body which then trigger an increase in heart rate. The higher your heart rate from adrenaline levels, the higher your blood pressure rises and remains until the adrenaline has left the body.
- Fatty Liver Disease (Nonalcoholic). Fatty liver disease is a condition in which excess fat builds up inside liver cells, causing them to become inflamed or damaged due to oxidative stress. This can affect how well your liver functions and cause long-term damage if untreated.
Sugar-Free Nutrition: What You Need to Know
For many years, sugar was thought to be a superfood. However, we now know that sugar is not good for us. In fact, most of the nutrition information you hear about sugar is probably not accurate.
Here are some of the facts you should know:
Not all sugar is bad for you. In fact, the sugar found in natural foods such as fruit is good for you.
Sugars found in common foods, like fruit, vegetables, and milk are largely unprocessed and can be considered healthy.
Sugars found in processed foods or added to foods, however, should be avoided. These include granulated sugar, brown sugar, honey, molasses, and corn syrup.
How Much Sugar Is Too Much?
There is no specific recommended amount of sugar in your diet. However, the World Health Organization recommends that adults consume no more than 25 grams of sugar per day.
The amount of sugar you should consume varies depending on your age and health condition. People with diabetes, for example, should limit their intake of added sugars to 11-15 grams per day.
People who want to lose weight should aim for no more than 15 grams of sugar per day.
You should also aim to eliminate all added sugars from your diet. This means cutting out foods and beverages that are high in added sugars, such as sodas, energy drinks, fruit juices, desserts, and candy.
Other Sugary Sources You Should Avoid
If you’re like most people, chances are you’re unaware of how much sugar is in the foods and drinks you buy. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) says the U.S. population consumes an average of 22 teaspoons of sugar every day, which is more than double the recommended amount!
Carbohydrates are not all bad for you, but carbohydrates from refined sugars are the worst kind to eat! You know white bread and white rice are simple carbs that turn into sugar in your body very quickly, but here’s a few other sugary sources you should avoid:
Here are some other sugary ingredients to keep out of your diet:
- Frostings, sauces, icings, and jams: These are mostly sugar. Look for any that has corn syrup listed as an ingredient.
- Honey: Many people don’t realize that honey is highly processed and contains a lot of sugar. While it is good in moderation, you should consider avoiding it as a sweetener.
- Molasses: Molasses is a sticky, black sugar syrup that is mainly made from sugarcane. Although it is natural sugar, you should avoid it because it is highly processed and contains a lot of sugar.
- Fruit juices and smoothies. Even though fruit juice may appear to be a healthier alternative to soda, it can have just as much sugar (and sometimes even more). Smoothies may also seem like a healthy option, but they can be loaded with added fruit juice or sweeteners such as honey or vanilla extract.
- Baked goods like cakes, cookies, donuts, and pastries. These treats may seem harmless when eaten in moderation but they’re usually loaded with added sugar and empty calories.
Sugar-free living may be easier said than done for some people, but it is worth the benefits if you can stick to it. After all, Sugar isn’t great for your health. It will give you acne, make you fat, and invite a whole host of other health problems. So if you have any interest in living healthier, it should be a part of your routine. Saving those calories for healthy food might just be the best decision you make.