Walking into the grocery store you’re welcomed by packaging in every color of the rainbow. If the vibrant colors weren’t enough to beg of your attention, perhaps “health-conscious” call outs will do the trick. ‘Low calories’ this and ‘fat-free’ that, but we all know free often comes with a price. That price comes in the form of added sugar. Most likely a key ingredient in many of your favorite foods, sugar may seem sweet but is actually ruining your health. We’ve outlined 10 reasons why.
1. Our children are sick. In 1980 there were zero childhood cases of type 2 diabetes, which was once called adult-onset diabetes. That number went from zero to 60,000 in just three decades. Sugar is the leading driver in what has become an emerging epidemic. Studies show, when consumed in large amounts, sugar can often cause insulin resistance. As if this thought weren’t frightening enough, medical professionals have stated they’re unsure of the long-term effects caused by treating children for type 2 diabetes.
2. Sugar is more addicting than cocaine. If you had to read that statement twice you’re not alone. Brain scans indicate sugar consumption fires the same areas of the brain that are triggered by cocaine. Researchers have even gone as far to claim sugar found in highly processed foods is eight times more addicting than the narcotic.
3. Not all calories are created equal. The afternoon snack attack hits so you head to the pantry. There you find a 100 Calorie Pack of your favorite cookies and a package of almonds. Both 100 calories you let your taste buds lead the way since their identical caloric values leaves the need for a tiebreaker. Wrong. While both items are 100 calories your body consumes those calories differently. The almonds are accompanied with fiber, which slows digestion and keeps blood sugar from spiking. The Calorie Pack on the other hand is quickly absorbed into the liver, creating a sugar rush and the immediate transformation of sugar into fat.
4. Sugar by any other name… is still sugar. High-fructose corn syrup, fructose, dextrose, dorbitol, turbinado sugar, raw sugar, and the list goes on and on. There are over 50 names that sugar goes by, but all are processed the same way by your body.
5. Looks can be deceiving. Even if avoiding the obvious sugar culprits, sugar may show up where you least expect it. Salad dressing contains about 3 teaspoons of sugar per serving. Looking to enjoy your fruit juice? Some fruit juices contain well over 50 grams of sugar, which is 7 times the recommended intake of sugar for your entire day.
6. Fat-free comes at a cost. When fat is removed from food what remains is less than appetizing. In effort to make the item more flavorful, manufacturers will replace fat with sugar. Often products labeled “low fat” contain twice the amount of sugar than the original, full-fat version.
7. Sugar, the empty calorie. Sugar lacks essential nutrients. No proteins, essential fats, vitamins or minerals are found in sugar. Even the temporary burst of energy provided by sugar is followed by a crash. This lack of nutrients only leaves you with empty calories, encouraging your body to consume more since no nutrients have been registered to indicate you’re full.
8. When weight gain isn’t so sweet. Not only does sugar encourage overeating, which can be related to weight gain, but it’s processed by the body and turned directly into energy or fat. Sugar also defies the “calories in, calories out” mentality, making it harder to burn one calorie from a cookie than a calorie from a carrot.
9. Our immunity suffers. Studies show sugar suppresses immune response. Harmful bacteria and yeast thrive off of sugar, which increases risk of infection and illness. Not to mention dental health suffers. Sugar provides easily digestible energy for bad bacteria in the mouth, which can lead to gum and tooth decay with continued exposure to high amounts of sugar.
10. Sugar increases stress. Hormone levels rise when we’re stressed. This is the body’s natural response to prepare for an attack or escape. These same hormones are called into action when blood sugar is low. This means the body releases these stress hormones to quickly raise blood sugar after a blood-sugar spike from eating a candy bar. While the body’s natural defense can be helpful, it can also make us anxious, irritable and unstable.
The long-term damage of ingredients like sugar isn’t always visible, but we’ll continue to do our best to see that we uncover the facts for you. Our hope is that the next time you make a trip to the grocery store you might do so with a different lens. Continue to learn the numerous names of sugar so you’ll be able to recognize them in the list of ingredients. Research healthy alternatives so you don’t have to eliminate the things you love. This may even be a great way to discover healthier brands and products. The choice is yours. Why not make it a healthy one?
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