Did you see the recent news article about the sugar industry cover up? Scientists found that the harmful effects of sugar were swept under the run! This study happened decades ago, too! That’s right – too much sugar was discovered to be harmful years ago!
This doesn’t surprise me in the least! We know there’s a very strong correlation (coincidence?) between sugar and obesity. As more sugar is added to our diets, more people get fat.
I know how crappy I feel when I eat too much sugar. Headaches, bloating, brain fog, exhaustion…
It’s not fun!
Unfortunately, it is very easy to eat too much sugar. The problem is, most of us don’t realize it!
That average daily total sugar intake in the USA in 2008 was 76.7 grams. Consider that 1 tsp of sugar is 4 grams and you suddenly see that almost 80 grams of sugar is a LOT!
What’s the “Official” Take on Sugar?
Organizations and governments are slowly but finally declaring that a maximum amount of daily sugar intake needs to be established.
This is a great step forward in helping overcome too much sugar. But…there are still problems.
While it’s great that food labels are starting to place a ‘Daily Value (%)’ beside sugar (previously there was nothing), that DV is still way too high. Both Canada and the US are going to be adding this DV to food labels.
In Canada, this DV is based on total amount of sugar each day. Included in this total are both refined sugars and natural sugars, which can be confusing for people who eat too much sugar. Canada recommends a DV of 100 gram (or 25 teaspoons) of total sugar. In the US, the labels will differentiate between added and natural sugars and will place a maximum recommended intake of added (refined) sugars at 50 grams.
For reference, the Canadian Heart and Stroke Foundation recommends no more than 90 grams of total sugar per day. And the American Heart Association caps added sugar at 24 grams per day.
So, there are still some discrepancies and problems with these new values.
Added Sugar vs. Natural Sugar
Why do so many people eat too much sugar? Because it’s everywhere! It’s in almost every single food we eat, except for most protein and some fats.
Refined sugar is added to just about every processed food out there. This is ‘added sugar’. This means that sugar is added to food to enhance taste, texture and other properties to make food more palatable.
Many so-called ‘health’ foods contain a ton of added sugar too! Non-fat yogurt, granola bars, protein bars, and organic and gluten-free treats are full of added sugars.
Too much added sugar has been associated with weight gain (no surprise!), diabetes and insulin resistance, cancer and, of course, cavities. Considering how much added sugar is in cereal, bread, snack foods and packaged everything, it’s not a surprise that more kids today have cavities that ever before! (And, no, adding fluoride to water is not going to change things…it only masks a bigger health issue and further toxifies our children’s bodies.)
Naturally occurring sugar is found in fruits and vegetables. These foods also contain healthful things like vitamins, minerals, water, fiber, phytonutrients, and antioxidants. Fruits and vegetables are good for us! There is much research to show that eating fruits and vegetables is a great way to reduce your risk of most disease AND maintain a healthy weight and mind.
Can you get too much sugar from fruits and vegetables? Sure, if you only ate these, you could go overboard on sugar. That’s why it’s important to pair these foods with healthy fats and high-quality protein for a balanced meal or snack.
Too Much Sugar Is Bad
Too much sugar is a huge health risk. One of the most interesting and, honestly, helpful things I’ve learned about sugar is that it feeds cancer cells. Simply knowing this fact has helped me say ‘no thanks’ to many different baked goods, packaged snacks and sugar-laden lattes.
I will do anything I can to avoid cancer!
In 2013, the American Heart Association calculated that approximately 25,000 deaths per year were associated with drinking sweetened beverages. 25,000! Is that not crazy! And scary! Think about all the other foods with too much sugar that we encounter every single day.
Added sugars are by far the most harmful. Look for them in baked goods, candies, soups, sauces and other processed foods. Added sugars will show up with names like:
- Corn syrup / high fructose corn syrup
- Evaporated cane juice
- Hydrolyzed starch
- Malt syrup
- And anything ending with ‘-ose’
Signs You’re Eating Too Much Sugar
Some people, like me, are sensitive to too much sugar and have an unpleasant reaction to it. It’s easy for us to avoid excess sugar because we immediately feel terrible after eating it.
However, for the rest of us, too much sugar may not be at the top of your mind. Other health issues explained by lack of sleep or too much stress are more obvious to you. Here’s the thing, many of these types of health issues can actually impair your body’s ability to detoxify and metabolize sugar. When you eat too much sugar, you might be making your symptoms worse.
Some signs that you’re eating way too much sugar regularly are:
- Afternoon cravings for sugar, cookies, sweets or candy
- Brain fog and poor concentration
- Exhaustion and low energy
- Food just doesn’t taste very good, especially vegetables
- Acne or other skin issues
- Stubborn weight
- Frequent illnesses or colds that won’t go away
How Much is Too Much Sugar
While I’d love to tell you to avoid ALL sugar, it’s not possible. Like I mentioned, we get sugar from natural foods too. And I don’t want you cutting out all fruits and vegetables! That would be very bad.
Instead, here’s what I’d love to see you do!
Ditch as many processed foods as possible. This means foods that come in cans, boxes, cartons, bags or wraps.
Now, focus on eating whole foods as much as possible. Ideally, if you could eat whole foods 80% of the time, this would be fabulous. If you have recipes that ask for black beans, gluten-free pasta, or tomato sauce, go ahead and pick some up. Just make sure to look for the brands with the least amount of sugar.
Despite the DVs, don’t aim to hit them! Sugar and processed foods are bad for your health. This is a fact. However, too much sugar in any form can still have detrimental effects on your health. So, do all you can to reduce your sugar intake and see if you can keep it below the daily values!
Start Reducing Sugar Today
You can start today by taking small steps to reduce your sugar intake.
- Eliminate (or reduce) sugar-sweetened beverages, including pop, coffee or tea, juice, sports drinks or dairy or non-dairy milks. Instead, drink fruit-infused water, add in a bit of liquid stevia, or stir in some cinnamon or vanilla.
- Skip the desserts, unless you’ve made them yourself and have consciously tried to use recipes without added sugar. Sound impossible? Just do a quick search on Pinterest for ‘sugar-free dessert recipes’ and I promise you hundreds of delicious ones will pop up.
- Say good-bye to processed granola or protein bars and reach for fruit, raw nuts, or veggies with hummus or nut butter. You can prepare all these snacks to grab and run with too.
- Switch to darker chocolate instead of eating milk or white chocolate. Sugar content goes down the darker the chocolate.
Too much sugar wreaks havoc on your health. Your chances of disease spikes with increased intake of sugar. Ditch as much refined, processed sugar and foods as possible and enjoy the sweetness of natural foods, like blueberries, sweet potatoes or bananas. To slow down the release of natural sugars, make sure to pair these fruits and veggies with a healthy fat, like nuts.
Take note: Quitting sugar cold-turkey can be pretty painful BUT our bodies are super resilient. Most people only suffer through a sugar-detox period of 2-3 days. This is way less time than a caffeine-detox and totally worth it