It wasn’t so long ago that we were bombarded with messages telling us that eating fat was bad. We were told that reducing fat in our diets would mean a slimmer waistline. You are not alone if you tried that strategy and didn’t see the results you wanted. That’s because the real problem might have actually been added sugar.
But more recent research shows that sugar is doing something even more sinister than making us fat. It’s actually making us sick.
According to sugarscience.org, an organization set up by the University of California, San Francisco for the purpose of educating the public on the danger of added sugars and backed by some 8000 scientific papers on the subject, the verdict is that overconsumption of added sugars is linked to liver disease, heart disease, and diabetes. It also may be why type 2 diabetes in children is rampant and metabolic disorders are becoming increasingly prevalent.
Added sugars are those that are not found naturally in foods. They show up in most energy drinks and nearly three out of four packaged foods. Worse yet, they are often disguised with healthy-looking labels.
Take breakfast cereals advertised as healthy food, for example. General Mills Oatmeal Crisp Hearty Raisin claims to contain ingredients that ‘lower cholesterol’, ‘reduce the risk of blood pressure’, and ‘reduce the risk of stroke’. While the oatmeal might have some of these benefits, it also packs a whopping 19 grams of sugar per serving, which is more than 50% of the recommended daily dosage set for men by the American Heart Association (36 grams) and nearly 80% of that for women (24 grams). For many children, it is over 100%.
When we eat too much sugar, it raises glucose levels in the blood, which results in the pancreas increasing the level of insulin in the body. This has two important effects. The high level of insulin causes the body to store excess calories as fat and it inhibits the body’s ability to signal the brain that it’s full.
The next time you grab a snack or give one to your children, remember that not all calories are the same. The source of your calories matters. Nutrients from natural foods in their whole form such as dried fruits are a good substitute because our bodies are designed to metabolize them differently than added sugars.