Sugar and Your Health
Long Term Risks of Too Much Sugar
Too much sugar in your diet may be affecting you in ways you haven't even thought of. It's in so many products we eat every day, many people don't even realize how much they're taking in. Consider this historical comparison.
In 1822, sugar was a luxury. The average American ate just 9 grams of sugar a day. Then two huge changes took place. The agricultural revolution dropped the price of food and modern transportation systems evolved to make everything we could dream of available in our local grocery store.
By 2013, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) estimated we've increased our sugar consumption to over 94 grams a day or an additional 332 calories. Keep in mind that's just from sugar products and it doesn't count the sugar found in fruits or vegetables. Some estimates show total sugar consumption in the United States at between 100 and 130 POUNDS per person a year.
Eating all those extra calories is having a devastating effect on our health. As often as I've told people that, they don't seem to understand what it really means. So I'd like to describe a few of the ways all that sugar may be affecting you right now.
Weight & Cancer
If you assume we were just as active as our parents or grandparents, and that nothing else in our diet had changed, eating an extra 332 calories a day would help you pack on an additional 3 pounds a month. That's how many calories we're eating extra every day because of our increased sugar intake. But obesity isn't the only result.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) 30% of all cancers in developed countries are the result of diet and nutrition. In the report, "Global Cancer Facts and Figures" the American Cancer Society said that in North America alone, 1,745,375 people were diagnosed with cancer in 2007.
That means in one year, 30%, or 523,612 people in the United States got cancer as a result of their poor diet! Suddenly sugar doesn't seem so harmless. But there's more.
We've known since the late 1960s and early 1970s from studies done by Yudkin and colleagues that people who consumed more sugar were at an increased risk of heart disease. Now reports from the recent Nurses' Health Study show that women who consume diets with a high glycemic load (high in simple sugars) are at an increased risk of cardiovascular heart disease. Women who are in the top 20% of sugar consumption had twice the risk of heart disease during the study's 10 year follow up.
Short-term studies regularly show that people who eat high levels of sugar, experience adverse triglyceride levels which can lead to plaque buildup on artery walls and an increased risk of heart attack.
In a study published on April 24th, 2013, in the journal Diabetologia, researchers made a frightening connection between sugar filled sodas and diabetes. Researchers looked at 27,000 people and found that those who drank a single regular 12 oz. Coke and it's nearly 40 grams of sugar were 18 percent more likely to develop type 2 diabetes over a 16-year period compared with those who did not drink soda.
Increase that to two sodas a day and you're 18 percent more likely to have a stroke than people who drink only one. The risks continue to increase dramatically with each additional soda people drink daily. Those results line up nicely with results from earlier studies carried out in the United States. The increase in diabetes cases isn't difficult to understand, it's simply the result of more sugar in our diets. And there's more.
Brain and Mood
The amount of sugar found in a single can of regular soda provides a quick energy burst. But, people who are monitored in experiments report after an hour that they have less energy and feel more upset or stressed than before the drink.
Subjects who ate balanced snacks of protein, fat and carbs were much more likely to avoid mood swings and reported more energy an hour after than the sugar drinkers.
For the next 10 days, count how many grams of sugar you're consuming. The easiest way is on your computer or smart phone with programs like (our favorite) MyFitnessPal, CalorieKing or SparkPeople.
After the 10 days are over, if you're taking in too much sugar, look at ways of reducing it. Find out what's pushing your numbers over the top and replace them with lower-sugar options. You'll look better, feel better and probably live longer if you do.
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