A leading cause of America’s obesity epidemic is the plethora of refined sugars in almost all the food we consume. Type 2 diabetes, has increased threefold in the past three decades, coinciding with the explosion of sugary products. Here is a partial list of other health ailments indirectly caused by over consumption of refined sugar: high blood pressure, ADD/ADHD, hypoglycemia, depression, acne, headaches, hardening of the arteries, fatigue, violent behavior,hyperactivity, aching extremities, and of course, tooth decay.

The average American consumes over 30 teaspoons of sugar every day! It is recommended that we consume less than 10 teaspoons every day, but if you ask me, that’s still too much sugar. In the Standard American Diet (SAD), added sugar alone accounts for 496 calories per day! To give you an example: one teaspoon of sugar has 16 calories, a teaspoon of honey has 21 calories and you’ll get 136 calories, (8 teaspoons of sugar) from a 12-ounce can of soda.

Most people have no idea as to the amount of added sugars in their food. There is sugar in almost every processed food that is consumed. Added sugars come in the form of granules, powders, and syrups that are cooked into foods or added at the table.

The obvious ones: soda, cookies, cakes, candies, fruit drinks, doughnuts, ice cream, jams, etc. The not so obvious culprits: ketchup, potato chips, soup, peanut butter, pasta sauce, hamburgers, hotdogs, mayonnaise, salad dressing, cereal, crackers, and bread, to name a few.

What is sugar?

* Refined (table) sugar comes from sugar beets or sugarcane. . You won’t find vitamins, minerals, enzymes, good fats, or fiber in this type of sugar.

* Natural (simple) sugar comes from real food such as: berries, bananas, oranges, apples, beans, nuts, whole grains, and vegetables. These real foods include plenty of fiber, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, protein, and phytochemicals.

Refined sugar is addicting and has negative effects on the body. It saps your energy and depletes your body of important nutrients. It has also been shown to repeatedly elevate dopamine levels, which control the brain’s reward and pleasure centers in a way that is similar to many drugs including tobacco, cocaine, and heroin. Much research has been done to show that the link between sugar and cancer is real.

How do we even begin to lessen our sugar consumption? We can start by being conscious of the sugar we are consuming. As it comes in many disguises, we need to start reading labels: sugar, cane juice, cane syrup, high-fructose corn syrup, fruit juice concentrate, honey, molasses, and malt syrup are a few of the hidden sugars in our processed foods. Don’t buy products that have these
ingredients in them! Check the grams of sugar in foods that you automatically think are healthy, such as yogurt. There is a lot of sugar in many “healthy” yogurts and other supposed health foods.

Focus on whole foods whenever possible, and emphasize nutrient-dense sources of sugar like berries, whole grains, nuts, vegetables, carrots, beets, apples, oranges, bananas, and other fruits, etc. Cut out the processed foods in your diet.

I just came across a really cool app called, “Sugar Rush”. It tells you how much sugar is in your food by using the barcode. I highly recommend getting it.

So, you tell me….is sugar your friend, or foe? It can be both!!