Do we need sugar?
We all need sugar, sugar is the body's preferred fuel source. There are many different sources of sugar and not all of them are beneficial for our health. Sugar is a type of carbohydrate that can be found intrinsically in whole foods such as fruit, vegetables, and dairy, sugar can be added into foods, and also can be made artificially. Over the last couple of decades, our added sugar consumption has increased astronomically due to the industrial revolution and subsidies to the sugar industry. As the amount of added sugar we consume increases, so does the rates of diabetes, health conditions, and annual health care expenses
Did you know?
The average American consumes more than 30% of its calories from added sugars and it is recommended no more than 10%. On average, Americans eat around 50 lbs of sugar per year or around 17 teaspoons of sugar per day!
Too much added sugar can be detrimental to our health. It can lead to unstable blood sugar and energy levels, an increase in insulin resistance, promote inflammation and metabolic disease, and an increase in body fat. A diet high in added sugars is associated with a decrease in the intake of essential micronutrients. Added sugar can also be highly addictive and activate the reward center of the brain.
Added sugars are hidden in many of our foods such as bread, pastries, ice cream, and soft drinks. Sugars can be added to products where we least expect them such as yogurt, dairy, beans, soups, ketchup, and more. Be sure to read the nutritional label of packaged foods to identify how many added sugars the product contains. Be aware of the portion size as well.
Artificial sweeteners are no better than table sugar. Scientific studies show that those who drink diet sodas experience a 70% increase in waist circumference compared to those who don't drink any soda. Those who drink 2 or more diet sodas a day had a 500% increase in weight! Artificial sweeteners also increase your risk of stroke, heart attack, metabolic syndrome, and cardiovascular disease. They also overstimulate your sweet receptors because they can be 10-20x sweeter tasting than table sugar. This is a problem because natural sugars from fruits won't taste as sweet anymore. The artificial sweetener most commonly found in diet sodas, aspartame, has shown to be a neurotoxin and should be avoided at all costs! Artificial sugar has also been shown to promote gut dysbiosis.
Consuming sugar in its natural form from fruit and vegetables is not only harmless, but it is very beneficial for your health. The sugar in fruits come naturally packed with fiber, antioxidants, and other important nutrients. For that reason, the sugar from fruit will not cause a large spike in blood sugar after consumption and provide steady energy throughout the day. We run into problems with sugar when natural sugars are refined or processed and all nutrients such as fiber and thousands of polynutrients are stripped away from the food.