Look at the back of every drink that’s not water and most times you’ll find sugar. And you’ll probably find a lot of it.
Sugar has been ingrained in the American diet for ages. When kids behave properly in school, what do we give them? When it’s someone’s birthday and we don’t know what to give them, what do we end up giving them? We add it to tea, our coffee, our low-fat yogurt and cereal because things just aren’t sweet enough for us. Let’s face it, Americans are obsessed with sugar.
Why Sugar is Bad for You
When people hear the word “obese,” they most likely think of an American diet. In fact, back when people thought only fat made you fat, the candy businesses were laughing in our faces; little did we know that a diet littered with sweet tea and ice cream can still invoke weight gain, obesity, cancer, Alzheimer’s and of course diabetes, according to MayoClinic.
Studies have shown that there is a link between a sugary diet and Alzheimer’s. It could be because when we eat sugar in excess, we are also consuming toxic compounds which are advanced glycation end products.
These toxins cause plaque to form in the brain, and it makes it hard for the brain to receive its nutrients and food, so memory loss begins.
SugarScience.org also reports that sugar does indeed have addictive qualities and cravings, and symptoms of withdrawal can ensue — almost as if it’s a drug.
How much is too much? The American Heart Association suggests that women should have no more than 25 grams of added sugar every day for women, and no more than 38 grams for men. Turn your average cereal box around, and you’ll see you’ve already eaten a good portion of your sugar amount today.
Natural vs Added Sugars
Fruits have sugar too, so should we limit our intake on them as well? That’s when we get into the fields of natural and artificial sugars. Artificial sugars are the added sugars used in foods and drinks. You can discern between the two by looking at the ingredients list on a product. If sugar is listed as an ingredient, it is added in and not natural.
But it doesn’t just stop at “sugar.” Consumption companies are smart: they know we won’t, or shouldn’t, consume something that contains a vast amount of sugar. So, they use codenames including, high fructose corn syrup, sucrose, dextrose, rice syrup, maltose, corn syrup, cane sugar, dehydrated cane juice, dextrin, corn sweetener, evaporated cane juice, and maltodextrin, according to Sugarscience.org.
If you ever wonder which type of sugar is better, that long list should give you a hint. Added sweeteners are so unwelcoming, companies use different names just to trick you into thinking it’s healthy.
What about artificial sweeteners?
If you want to cut out sugar entirely from your diet, you might have leaned towards artificial sweeteners like aspartame and sucralose. Big tip: do your research. You’ll see that there are lots of claims associated with added sugars, such as cancers. According to American Heart studies, so far there is no link between aspartame and blood cancers, contrary to popular belief. However, this is only based on the studies previously done. There will always be more studies.
What does this mean for you?
This doesn’t mean you should cut out sugar entirely (unless you really like the challenge). This also doesn’t mean you can never eat a Snickers bar again. All this means is that you should be cautious of how much you’re consuming. Read food and drink labels, and make informed decisions at your local P.O.D Express.