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
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
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.
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
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
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
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.
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
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
Instead of a sugar snack,
take a brisk, ten-minute walk for a
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
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