If you read any health news, you will have probably seen stories emerging in the last couple of weeks about the toxic effects of sugar. Of course, health news seems to always need something to pick on, to scare us with, and to vilify so you might also be wondering if sugar is really that bad for you?
Why Is Sugar Bad?
At its least harmful, sugar is empty calories – that is, you are consuming calories that don’t have any nutritional value. Calories without nutrition don’t leave you satisfied, which can lead to eating more. Excess calories = unnecessary weight gain.
But looking more deeply into the effects of sugar on your body, we know that regular sugar intake is one of the factors that leads to Type 2 Diabetes. It contributes to tooth decay. It also suppresses your immune system, leaving you more vulnerable to everyday colds and flus.
New research, which has put sugar back into the headlines, suggests that sugar also leads to inflammation inside your body. That inflammation can cause symptoms like acne, eczema and psoriasis to worsen. It can also cause devastation inside your body, leading to obesity, heart disease, arthritis, and much more. That’s good enough reason for me to want to cut back!
Natural Sugar vs. Refined Sugar
The sugar lobbyists (yes, there are sugar lobbyists) will tell you that sugar is all the same – both natural and refined. Natural sugars are those that are naturally occurring in fresh fruits, vegetables, grains, beans, nuts and dairy products. Refined sugars are extracted out of something (usually a sugar cane or sugar beet) and then refined into table sugar and other sweeteners. There is a huge difference!
Natural sugars come in a whole food package. In that fresh fruit or vegetable you’ll also find plenty of vitamins, minerals, fiber and phytonutrients. It is true that your body eventually converts those natural sugars into glucose to be used as energy in your cells the same way that it converts refined sugar. However, that process takes much longer due to the fiber that is present in the food (helping to keep your blood sugar rather stable rather than having big spikes and crashes), and you also have the nutritional benefit of all the good elements from those whole foods.
In short, naturally occurring sugars are much better for your body than refined sugars are.
Some people are highly sensitive to any sugars, and will also need to reduce naturally occurring sugars. For most of us, being aware of and eliminating added sugars is all that is needed, or is at least a huge step in the right direction.
But I Don’t Add That Much Sugar!
Do you really know how much added sugar you’re actually eating every day? Just because you’ve cut back on adding sugar to your daily coffee or tea doesn’t mean much, unfortunately. In fact, the added sugar we use at home hasn’t increased very significantly over the last 50 years!
If you’re eating a typical diet in North America, you are probably eating somewhere in the neighborhood of about 1/2 cup of sugar every single day. Sugar, in one form or another, is added to every single packaged food available. It’s even showing up in things like herbal tea bags. If you drink a regular soda every day, that alone holds about 1/4 cup of sugar.
How To Cut Down on Sugar
The number 1 thing you can do to cut down your sugar intake is to start reading labels, followed closely by eating foods prepared simply at home. There are over 100 names for sugar that can appear on ingredient lists, but once you’ve familiarized yourself with them you’ll find that it’s pretty easy to identify the most likely culprits. Find the high-sugar culprits in your kitchen and the next time you’re shopping search out sugar free alternatives.
Stop the Sugar Blues!
Ready to reduce the amount of sugar you’re eating? Need some tips and support to make it happen? Join me for a free webinar: Stop the Sugar Blues: 10 Simple Steps to Curb Sugar Cravings this Thursday, April 12 at 2pm or 8pm EST.
On this free call you will learn:
- What is sugar addiction? And why this is a very real threat to your health?
- Simple strategies for reducing or even eliminating sugar cravings
- The 10 steps for bringing yourself back into balance
- How to can gain control while still eating great food.
Participants will also receive a free bonus gift, valued at $99. So, register now to reserve your spot.