“Sugar is poison. It is a … hepatotoxin”
Dr. Robert Lustig, Professor of Pediatrics at University of California San Francisco
Do you exercise and no matter how much you still can’t lose weight? What if I told you that the information about sugar can be the key to helping you achieve your goals towards a healthier body? Have you ever wondered why the Percent Daily Value (%DV) isn’t listed for sugar on any nutritional fact labels? The simply answer is this: food companies don’t want you to know that information, because if you did, you might not buy it. If the nutrition label (nutrition facts) did show you how much a daily recommended serving of sugar on it, would you still buy it? In America, the American Heart Association view the daily allowance of added sugar is 6-9 teaspoons (~25 grams for women, 38 grams for men); while the FDA views the daily allowance as 10% of our daily consumption in a 2000 calorie diet, or200 calories/50 grams. When looking the new World Health Organization, and other countries across the world the absolute max is set at 10% and is often lower than that, because most recommend a daily intake of sugar of, at most 25 grams or 5% of daily intake. And even then they recommend avoiding added/artificial sugars as much as possible for added health benefits. A can of soda typically has 39 grams of sugar, which is higher than the recommended amount. Meaning that sole can of soda is overshooting your daily allowance of sugar; but unfortunately that’s just one of the many examples of our food products with large amounts of added sugar in them. Added sugars increase your chance of obesity, fat retention, diabetes, stroke, cancer, cardiovascular diseases, and a whole lot more other ailments like sleepiness, hunger, addiction- the list could go on for a while. Your best chance toward a healthier lifestyle can be achieved by eliminating added sugars; because if you’re craving something sweet, eat natural sugars.
Natural occurring sugars are the sugar found in whole unprocessed foods, such as fruits, vegetables, and some grains; which mainly in the form of fructose, the sweet part of sugar. These fruits, veggies, and grains are drastically different in how they breakdown in your body. Many fruits and veggies are highly beneficial in what they provide; from water, fiber, vitamins and minerals, and even a form of antioxidant called phenols which protects us from heart disease, cancer, and other damaging ailments. Many people see sugar as sugar, just like a calorie is a calorie; and that’s just wrong. The fructose (sugar) from these whole foods gets broken down in the body more efficiently than added sugars. When eating fruits, veggies, nuts and grains with natural occurring sugars in them you’re also getting fiber; which helps reduce the harmful effect of sugar do to the energy it takes to digest it. It also results in a gradual breakdown of your food. Meaning your blood sugar won’t spike as it does with foods that solely contain sugar and they won’t be directly stored as fat unlike processed foods. Without fiber, the sugars from those healthy whole foods act no different from added sugars. The lacking of fiber is why fruit juice is just as bad as soda, its pure concentrated sugar. This is also the reason why most protein or ‘nutritional’ bars are basically candy bars; they lack the proper ratio of fiber to sugar. The next step towards a better lifestyle is through gaining knowledge by knowing what these added sugars are and their effects on our bodies.
When it comes to health issues, added sugar and diet beverages are by far America’s worst addiction. More than 80% of the foods we have contain added sugar, from our peanut butter, to fruit juices, white grains (white bread, white pasta, white rice), condiments, snack foods, syrups and mixers in coffee, and obviously all of the soda and sweets we consume. Heck, 80% of American schools have a deal with a subsidiary company owned by either Pepsi or Coke, which put sugar into their breads and sauces and have their menus revolved around processed white grain foods. The involvement of sugar with our foods is one of the largest problems with the food industry of America and is leading our people closer towards disease and death. I didn’t realize how deep the rabbit hole went until I watched documentary Fed Up, which I highly recommend watching- it’s currently on Netflix. It began my journey of research and digging through the history records of how the mainstreaming of these products came to be, their marketing and sales ploys to get people addicted, and how damaging the abuse of sugar has gotten in our modern-day society. The film explores the role of sugar as the leading cause of obesity in America. The full quote, from the beginning of the article is stated as follows:
“Sugar is poison. It is a chronic, not acute, chronic, dose dependent, depends on how much you eat since there is a safe threshold, hepato, liver toxin”
A hepatotoxin (hepato = liver) is a toxic chemical substance that damages the liver. Usually, liver damage comes from excessive usage of alcohol, medications, microcystins (cyanoginosins) or chemicals found in laboratory environments. However, added and artificial sugars act in the same damaging way and lead many towards obesity. The metabolic diseases that are often associated with obesity are diabetes, heart disease, strokes, cancer, and lipid storage diseases. Some of these diseases are inherited, however there has been a drastic spike in these diseases since the heavy usage/introduction of added sugars in food since the 70’s; which lead many to believe that sugar is the driving force of these diseases. When looking at how these added sugars affect our body, it’s no surprise that the problematic trail leads to sugar.
Sugar can only be processed in the liver, and like any organ it can be pushed to its functional limit. When we consume all of these sugary products, our liver can’t handle the load. In order to deal with the onslaught of sugar, the pancreas then produces a large amount of insulin. Insulin is an energy storage hormone with the function of turning sugar into fat for storage; but it can also blocks the signal of ‘being full’ from your stomach to your brain- which leaves you feeling hungry. The threefold affect of added sugar comes in the form of increased fat storage, sugar rush and crash, and over eating due to feeling hungry. This is where the road towards obesity and an early death begin; you initiate a constant cycle of eating more and craving even more food, all while riding a roller coaster of high amounts of energy and no energy at all. In regards to the physical result of eating sugary foods, Dr. Robert Lustig puts it best:
“… the problem is your brain feels like it’s starving. So how do you feel when you’re starved? Crappy, tired, slothy, sit on the couch, don’t want to do anything, and of course hungry. Well I’ve just described every obese patient. The behaviors that we associate with obesity, the eating too much, the exercising too little, the gluttony and the sloth are all results of the biochemistry, not the cause.”
When we consume diet drinks, or other artificial sugars, the result is even worse. Artificial sugars will stimulate our senses and our brains like real sugar. Your body responds like sugar is on the way, however it never comes; which leads us for even more cravings and consumption. There is much controversy towards the use of artificial sugars/sweeteners; which are still debated today. Some of the leading reasons why individuals who drink diet soda are still heavier are most likely due to a psychological effect, created by marketing teams to get you to consume more of their product. Most diet products will advertise that it has ‘Zero Calories!’ and the consumer will often eat other poor food because of their ‘zero calorie’ treat, which means nothing in terms of the physiological impact. The fact it misleads your brain into thinking sugar is on the way is another reason why diet drinks effect the appetite, leading us to be more hungry or not as full while eating and drinking diet beverages. Though the science behind it is still being studied, there’s no reason for me to believe that these major food companies have our best interest in minds when considering the food ploy of ‘reduced fat’ foods and other marketing tricks. The reduced fat comment is mentioned because most of these ‘reduced fat’ treats counter the loss of fat with an increase of sugar and/or salt (mainly to keep the flavor palatable and tasty). Reduced fat foods are a scam, because those products remove the healthy fats and keep the harmful ones, along with adding more sugar and/or salt. In order to help identify the harmful sugars and artificial sugars and sweeteners that are in our food, here’s a list of all the names that food manufacturers use for these products:
Getting anyone addicted to anything can be viewed as a form of slavery. And to put it simply, America is addicted to sugar. We have more sugars in products now than in our entire history of food, and to counter those sugars we have even more ‘miracle cures’ for fat loss to be skinny. This view on sugar isn’t to solely help people in the obese category, because far more people are unhealthy than many realize. Around 30% of America is obese, which means their Body Mass Index (BMI) is composed at or more than 30% fat. Our of the remaining 70% of America which isn’t seen as obese weight-wise, 40% of thin people fall under the same BMI category of overweight to obese people, (BMI between 25% and 30%); some refer this to as ‘skinny fat’ –which really just means they’re thin, but don’t have a lot of muscle.
The only miracle cure to live a healthy life is by remaining disciplined and reading your labels. Sugar is safe to consume, but in small amounts. If you find that every product in your kitchen has massive amounts of sugar and/or you exercise and still can’t lose weight- cut out the sugar. You’ll surprise yourself with how much better you feel, look, and function. It doesn’t and it shouldn’t take a detox (detoxification) that bans all forms of sugar for you to moderate your consumption. Simply limit your intake towards that 0-5% level and you’ll see results. Some tricks are only drinking water with your meals. Substitute eating candy with healthy snacks or fresh fruits. But the most important aspect to all of this is limiting your sugar to a healthy amount. If you know you have an issue with sweets, keep in mind the recommended 25 grams limit. You can even test yourself and track how much sugar you normally eat in a day or week and then compare it to that average. Because sugar is in nearly every product nowadays, you’ll be surprised how quick you reach that recommended total.