"Refined sugars and high-fructose corn syrup are considered by many experts to be the biggest contributors to obesity and poor health in Western civilization.
In her book What To Eat, Marion Nestle, professor of nutrition at NYU, suggests that any food that contains more than 15 grams of sugar per serving is closer to dessert than anything else."
Here is a partial list of the foods Summer Tomato posted:
- Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnut -- 10 grams
- Ben & Jerry's vanilla ice cream -- 16 grams
- Starbucks caffè latte grande (16 oz) -- 17 grams
- Subway 6″ sweet onion teriyaki chicken sandwich -- 17 grams
- Yoplait original yogurt -- 27 grams
- Vitamin Water (20 oz bottle) -- 33 g
- Oscar Mayer Lunchables crackers, turkey & American cheese -- 36 grams
- Coca-Cola Classic 12 oz can -- 39 grams
- California Pizza Kitchen Thai chicken salad -- 45 g
- Jamba Juice blackberry bliss 16 oz -- 49 g
- Odwalla SuperFood 450 ml bottle -- 50 g
- Starbucks caffe vanilla frappuccino grande (16 oz) -- 58 g
For more, please read the full article here.
Modern science has shown that the obesity epidemic isn’t simply about lack of self-control, but rather a phenomenon driven by biochemical changes that have altered the way your body regulates energy.
What has caused these biochemical changes to occur on such a mass scale?
Well, the list above is a big part of the explanation.
It’s hard to imagine, but a vast array of modern processed foods contain more sugar than a glazed doughnut! Sugar in some form is present in nearly every packaged product, from spaghetti sauce, salad dressing, and peanut butter, to mayonnaise and ketchup, just to name a few.
This outrageously excessive sugar consumption has caused people’s appetite regulation system to go awry. Leptin, the hormone responsible for satiety, isn’t working properly anymore in a majority of people.
It has now become clear that limiting sugar – and fructose in particular -- in your diet is a key to longevity for a number of reasons.
For example, according to Dr. Richard Johnson, author of The Sugar Fix, about 25 percent of all Americans consume over 134 grams of added sugars a day, and this statistic dovetails nicely with the statistics showing that one in four Americans is either pre-diabetic or has type 2 diabetes.
Diabetics have, on average, a reduced lifespan of about 15 years.
How Sugar Can Make or Break Your Health
Your blood glucose levels rise slightly every time you eat. This is natural. However, excessive sugar consumption will typically cause your blood glucose levels to become excessively elevated and then stay that way.
It is a well proven fact that sugar increases your insulin and leptin levels and decreases receptor sensitivity for both of these vital hormones. This can lead to:
- High blood pressure and high cholesterol
- Heart disease
- Weight gain
- Premature aging
One of the puzzle pieces you need to understand in order to really see the correlation between heart disease and sugar consumption is that dietary sugar raises your small, dense LDL cholesterol levels. This is the type of cholesterol that correlates with heart disease. Dietary fat, on the other hand, raises your large, buoyant LDL, which is harmless.
Turns out the “conventional wisdom” to avoid dietary fat to avoid heart disease has led millions astray by focusing on the entirely wrong food. If you want to reduce your risk of heart disease, you simply must curb your sugar consumption.
And today, this dietary vigilance needs to begin more or less from birth. Even infant formulas and jarred baby food contains excessive amounts of sugar and high fructose corn syrup!
As your child grows, savvy marketing wizards would have you believe that feeding your child cereal each morning is a recipe for good health. But nothing could be further from the truth… On average, just one serving of a typical children’s breakfast cereal equates to more than 90 percent of the daily sugar intake for sedentary girls aged 9 to 13.
Regardless of the “healthy fiber” content of the cereal, consuming that much sugar is not going to promote good long-term health.
For adults struggling with weight- and health problems, the anti-fat craze has created an entire new breed of high-risk diet foods.
Reducing fat content in food tends to make it taste bland, and so sugar was added to low-fat foods to improve palatability -- in the form of either HFCS or sucrose. This is one of the absolute worst combinations for your health…
Please understand, the health dangers of sugar on human physiology are certain, and the evidence that fructose is the WORST of the bunch is growing. (For an in-depth review of the particulars that make fructose even more damaging than regular sugar, please review this recent article.)
Simple sugars have been observed to aggravate asthma, exacerbate mental illness, cause mood swings, provoke personality changes and aggression, nourish nervous disorders, cause diabetes and speed up heart disease, grow gallstones, cause hypertension and arthritis, and that’s just the beginning.
In short, excessive sugar consumption, and fructose in particular, will kill you prematurely, one way or another.
Avoiding sugar, on the other hand, will help you control your insulin and leptin levels, which will help you to feel and look younger, longer.
What Can You Do About Those Sugar Cravings?
Interestingly, and well worth remembering, is that cravings for candy, junk food or fast food, and excessive hunger are likely connected and caused by the near identical mechanisms.
Refined sugar is in and of itself more addictive than cocaine, but that does not fully explain the phenomenon of being hungry or having food cravings even though you’ve just eaten.
This is where the hormone leptin – also known as the “obesity hormone” -- comes into play again.
Leptin appears to reduce cravings for sweet foods by targeting taste receptors on the tongue. Therefore, it is possible that a lack of leptin, or your body's failure to respond to the hormone due to leptin-resistance or defects in your leptin receptors, may contribute to the so-called 'sweet tooth' that affects so many people.
Leptin, which is produced by your fat cells, is an integral part of your weight regulation. When fat cells are “full,” leptin sends signals to your brain to reduce hunger so you can stop eating.
However, once you become leptin-resistant, your brain can no longer hear these signals, and so the sensation of hunger is not shut down. This typically leads to overeating and gaining excessive amounts of weight.
How to Right Your Biochemistry Again
You become leptin resistant in the same way you become insulin resistant, meaning most people do not have insufficient amounts of leptin, but rather too much.
So, how do you reduce your leptin levels and regain your leptin sensitivity?
As discussed above, limiting your sugar intake is a given. But in addition to that, one of the most effective ways to reduce your leptin levels is through physical exercise. It’s true, diet and exercise really do go hand-in-hand if you want to get your body back into homeostasis and optimize your health.
Did You Know?
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Sugar Guidelines and Acceptable Sugar Alternatives
Ideally, I recommend that you avoid sugar as much as possible. This is especially important if you are overweight or have diabetes, high cholesterol, or high blood pressure.
I realize you don’t live in a perfect world, and following rigid dietary guidelines is not always practical or even possible. However, cutting out sodas, sweetened beverages of all kinds, and limiting your consumption of processed foods will take you a very long way, and is something most people can do.
These are the most common sources of more or less hidden sugar, so by avoiding them, you can significantly reduce your sugar consumption.
As a standard guideline, I strongly recommend you limit your fructose consumption to 25 grams per day, and limit your fructose from fruit to 15 grams per day. This is to account for the inevitable hidden sources of sugar or fructose you will consume during an average day.
For a convenient list of the fructose content of various fruits, please see this previous article that also discusses fruit consumption in more detail.
Lastly, if you want to use an added sweetener occasionally, this is what I recommend:
- Use the herb stevia, flavored versions are particularly helpful and tend not to have the bitter aftertaste. French vanilla and English toffee are two of my favorites.
- Use organic cane sugar in moderation
- Use organic raw honey in moderation
Avoid ALL artificial sweeteners, which can damage your health even more quickly than sugar and HFCS.
I also do not recommend agave syrup since most forms are a highly processed sap that is almost all fructose. Your blood sugar will spike just as it would if you were consuming regular sugar or HFCS. Agave has gained meteoric popularity due to a great marketing campaign, but any health benefits present in the original agave plant are typically processed away.
For more information about agave, please see my previous in-depth report on this topic.
Likewise, honey is very high in fructose. Although its fructose content varies, it typically contains about the same amount as HFCS, or more. So even though honey contains many other beneficial nutrients, you’ll want to use honey very sparingly.
Aside from the herb Stevia, perhaps your safest sugar alternative is to use pure glucose.
You can buy pure glucose (dextrose) as a sweetener for about $1 a pound. It is only 70 percent as sweet as sucrose, so you’ll end up using a bit more of it for the same amount of sweetness, making it slightly more expensive than sucrose—but still well worth it for your health as it has ZERO grams of fructose. Remember, glucose can be used directly by every cell in your body and as such is far safer than the metabolic poison fructose.
It should be apparent by now that if you want to be healthy, you simply must get used to reading labels, which I’ve addressed in many previous articles, and become familiar with the sugar and fructose content of everything you eat.