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Health Issues

 

   

Too Much Sugar

Recently a group of dieticians published a pamphlet on the harmful effects of excessive sugar consumption. They begin with this fascinating sentence: “Judging by the size of America’s sugar bowl, it really ought to be a sweet world.” Someone has said, “Every day in America is sweeter than the day before,” and it is! According to a survey by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Americans eat approximately 3,500,000 pounds of candy each year. That’s about 16 lbs. for every man, woman and child in the country. This is only the beginning of the story. America’s sweet tooth gets longer each year. Our craving for sweets seems more intense each passing decade. Each American consumes approximately 120 lbs. of sugar per year. In the last 170 years, the increase in sugar consumption has been remarkable.

In 1822 the average American ate 2 teaspoons per day.

In 1890 the average American ate 10 teaspoons per day.

In 1905 the average American ate 20 teaspoons per day.

In 1974 the average American ate 33 teaspoons per day.

In 1995 the average American ate 40 teaspoons per day.

 

 

 

ONE STEP AT A TIME: WHAT TO DO

Most sugar we consume is hidden sugar. Most processed foods contain sugar in one form or another. Americans average 54 gallons of soft drink per person per year. One 12-ounce soda may contain 12 teaspoons of sugar. One piece of chocolate cake contains 15 teaspoons of sugar and a cup of frozen yogurt has 12 teaspoons. You’ll also find hidden sugar in foods such as canned soups, potpies, TV dinners and many brands of peanut butter. You should also realize that giving it a different name might also hide sugar. Sucrose, dextrose, lactose, fructose, and maltose are all sugars. So are corn syrup, honey and molasses. More than 100 substances that are sugars exist.

  Sugar does produce quick energy. Refined, concentrated sugars enter the bloodstream quickly. Up goes the blood sugar, resulting in a quick energy boost. A sugar-high! But the high is only temporary, because it triggers a surge of insulin. Insulin brings down blood sugar levels and, in the absence of the modulation effects of fiber, sometimes pulls down too fast and too far. A falling blood sugar often mimics symptoms of hypoglycemia, producing feelings of weakness, hunger, fatigue and letting down. The sugar-blues! The usual reaction is to reach for another sugary snack, and then another, leading to a sort of grazing all day long. If you would try eating a banana or a bowl of brown rice, the fiber in these foods would slow down the absorption of sugar into the bloodstream. The sugar levels wouldn’t jump around so much, your energy would stabilize, and you would feel satisfied longer.

Many well-meaning parents are switching from soda pop to fruit juices as the beverage of choice for their toddlers and children. Children under the age of five consume an average of nine gallons of juice annually. Sugars also appear to be habit forming. The more a person eats, the more they want. This presents a problem since sugar is replacing the more nutritious, balanced foods.

All that sugar doesn’t seem to be making us a sweeter nation. It may be contributing to mood swings, fatigue, and a host of diseases. Sweet foods affect brain chemistry. Research from Yale University showed that children who were given sugar on an empty stomach released large amounts of adrenaline, which resulted in shakiness, anxiety, excitement and concentration problems. Significant relationships have been found between destructive, aggressive and restless behaviors in hyperactive children and refined sugar intake. Other studies indicate that high sugar intake is associated with lowered intelligence and achievement scores of children ages 5 to 16. Children who eat many sweets are particularly vulnerable to colds and infections.

Sugar contains no nutrients or fiber. It is high in calories and can crowd more nutritious foods out of your diet. Nutritional research continues to produce evidence that the imbalance in the American diet is causing an alarming increase in degenerative diseases. Our sugar consumption is too high. Sugar calories not used by the body are stored as fat. Yuck!!!!!

Too much refined sugar depletes the body of B vitamins. B vitamins are essential for healthy nerves. A depletion of B vitamins lowers our resistance to infection and makes us irritable and depressed. Sugar also weakens the white blood cells, which furnish our main line of defense against invading germs. One white blood cell can normally attack and destroy 14 invading germs. After eating sugar, this capability is reduced dramatically.

Eat 6 teaspoons of sugar and the white cells attack 10 invading germs. Twelve teaspoons of sugar and they can attack 5.5 invading germs. Eat 24 teaspoons of sugar and 1 invading germ is destroyed. Something for us to ponder.

  

Because refined white sugar is a double sugar, it requires more work, often exhausting the human system to invert and convert this chemical into a simpler digestible form, ready for assimilation. On the contrary, simple sugars such as those in fruits and honey are very easily digested. Diets high in refined sugars and starches such as white sugar and white flour product often crowd out the desire for more nutritious foods, resulting in nutritional deficiencies. Pure refined sugar, being the most depleted of “foodless foods” makes demand on the body’s store of vitamins and minerals for its assimilation. Research and evidence agree that although sugar may pamper and satisfy your sweet tooth, it acts as a sneaky and insidious thief of your health.

  

Refined sugar also increases the blood fat levels and has a clogging effect on the body. The sluggishness of the body brought on by too much sugar causes disease. Sugar plays a significant role in the build-up of cholesterol, which can clog heart arteries and high triglycerides. There is concern that higher amounts of sugar in the blood can combine with LDL cholesterol to produce a compound that is damaging to the lining of blood vessel walls, thus stimulating atherosclerosis.

  

Too much sugar also contributes to tooth decay, because it slows the fluid flow through the tiny canals of the teeth. The teeth lose their resistance to viral and bacterial invasion and decay results.

  

 

APPLICATION: HOW TO DO IT

  

Education and moderation are the secrets. A sweet tooth can be reeducated. Moderation is the guideline. It doesn’t have to mean giving up a favorite dessert altogether. Begin by decreasing the frequency of eating sugared foods. Instead of eating deserts several times daily, reduce to three times a week. When dessert is served less often, you and your family will begin looking forward to them and enjoy them more. Another aspect of moderation is learning to be satisfied with smaller portions. Big servings and second helpings are just bad habits. You can learn to eat one piece of candy instead of the whole box. You’ll feel better too! Eating more slowly with pleasure can be more enjoyable than bolting down several pieces of dessert.

 

Refined sugar is a lifestyle stressor worthy of careful monitoring. Be aware of what you are eating and drinking. How much sugar have you been getting in snacks, desserts and drinks? Sugar attacks happen most often when you haven’t eaten meals at the right time or when you have not included enough fibers in you meal.

Recommended Limit: 30 grams or less per day.

 

Read labels. Every 4 grams on the label indicates one teaspoon of sugar in the product.

 

 

YOUR CHALLENGE: YOU CAN DO IT!!

Eat more fiber foods. Fiber helps reduce sugar cravings. Fiber gives long lasting energy and raises serotonin levels to improve your mood.

 

Eat an abundant supply of fresh vegetable and fruits. Vegetables and fruits provide fiber and trace minerals that satisfy the appetite. Keep fresh fruit available if you need a snack. A can of mixed fruit packed in it’s own juice with a fresh diced apple and sliced banana makes a quick dessert. Practice satisfying your sweet tooth by reaching for a bunch of chilled grapes instead of a doughnut.

 

Drink water instead of high sugar drinks.

 

Try some dried fruit or fruit leathers.

 

Instead of a sugar snack, take a brisk, ten-minute walk for a quick pick-me-up.

 

Modify your recipes. Cut sugar in recipes by 1/2 or 1/3.

 

Sprinkle slices of strawberries and bananas on your cereal instead of sugar.

 

Choose breakfast cereals that have 5 grams or less per serving.

If you want to eat sugar, the best time to eat it is with or following meals. With good nutrition from a meal, you are less likely to eat too much sugar.

 

  Reducing the amount of refined and concentrated sugars in the diet and eating more high-fiber foods, like whole grains, legumes, vegetables, fruits, will produce the right kind of sugar highs. These highs will keep you energetic and feeling good all day long!

 

And remember, Health is by Choice...not by chance! The choice is yours. You don’t have to be a statistic. By adopting a better diet and wiser lifestyle habits, you can live longer, feel better, and enjoy a healthier, more productive life.

   

 
~*~

Nancy Schmieder works with the Better Living Ministries in Wayland , NY as a Certified Lifestyle Consultant and Specialist. The Better Living Ministries is a Community Resource for Lifestyle Education and Support. Health by Choice is a practical, simple journey on how to incorporate healthy habits into your lifestyle. Nancy is a Mother of five and she lives with her family in Springwater , NY . Her e-mail address is n.schmieder@frontiernet.net

 

 

 

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