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Our Love Affair with Sugar

Picture a child hyped up on sugar and the chaos that’s likely to ensue. It can be like watching a mini tornado ravaging its way through a miniature town. Now picture that same child as an adult hyped up on sugar. In all outward appearances it’s not so chaotic but inside, biologically, a big storm is brewing. Sugar, much like a abusive drug releases dopamine into our brains and gives a feeling of pleasure which can lead to addiction. This addiction lead to, guess what, more sugar consumption! And you’ll be just as surprised as I was to find out just how much added sugar there is in the things we eat and drink.

I want to focus on what I believe is the BIG one. I’m talking about soft drinks, soda or pop or whatever you call it in your neck of the woods. These contain High Fructose Corn Syrup, the really bad stuff. Your liver is 100% responsible for processing Fructose and it doesn’t do a very good job of it when flooded by this liquid sugar.

Now, lets start with a baseline. The American Heart Association recommends that we limit our added sugar intake to 36 grams or 150 calories in men and 25 grams or 100 calories in woman a day. This equates to 9 teaspoons and 6 teaspoons respectively. That right there already sounds like a lot right? Wanna sit down and shovel 9 or even 6 teaspoons of sugar into your mouth? I don’t.

Now lets look at the added sugar content of some of our favorite drinks. Lets start with Coca Cola which at a serving size of 12 ounces (a single can) has 39 grams of added sugar. 12 ounces of Mountain Dew, 46 grams. Pepsi, 41 grams. Dr Pepper, 40 grams. The list goes on and on but one thing is obvious. One 12 ounce can of soda and we’ve exceeded our recommended daily limit. This, of course, is in addition to the others things we’re comsuming throughout the day that contain sugar.

But in this day and age of mass consumption we aren’t limiting ourselves to “serving sizes” though. Lets look at a 1 liter bottle of Coke or 108 grams of sugar. Thats right around 300% of our recommended daily limit and 400% for the ladies. And the drinks just keep getting bigger and bigger! Im not isolating any one brand but if you do your own research you’ll find it pretty consistant across the board for most soft drinks.

So how do our bodies process all this excess sugar?  When blood sugar levels get to high our bodies produce insulin which sweeps the sugars out of the blood stream and into cells blocking nutrient absorption. This in turn can lead to a low blood sugar then a crash and craving for more sugar. A vicious cycle indeed. Some other and more threatening effects of over consumption of sugar include obesity, Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, Insulin resistance (which can lead to type 2 diabetes and heart disease), cancer and the list goes on.

I encourage you to follow some of the links below for further information and to continue to research on your own. And when you find yourself thirsty, grab a glass of water. Your body will thank you.

Sugar 101 American Heart Association

Daily bingeing on sugar Science Direct

Soft drinks and disease Harvard School of Public Health

18 foods and drinks that are surprisingly high in sugar  Authority Nutrition

 

 

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