How Much Sugar is Too Much?
Everyone’s talking about how bad sugar is for you. There are even entire documentaries on the topic such as “That Sugar Film”.
Obviously sugar is not a health food. And “added sugars” (ones that are not naturally found in whole foods like fruit) are particularly bad. They’re not only bad for diabetes; but, also for your waistline, mood, and energy levels.
Organizations and governments are (finally) declaring a maximum amount of daily sugar intake although many of them don’t actually agree on what that maximum number should be.
The problem is that sugar is everywhere. It’s naturally occurring. It’s also added to just about every processed food there is. And this “added sugar” is a factor in many chronic diseases we see today. Sugar is inflammatory. Too much is associated with weight gain, diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and cavities. Too much sugar is a huge health risk, no matter how you look at it.
Let’s discuss the difference between “added” sugar and “naturally occurring” sugar.
Fruit and other healthy whole foods contain sugar. They also contain water, fiber, vitamins, minerals, and other phytochemicals. They are good for you. Eating fruits and vegetables is a well-proven way to reduce your risks of many chronic diseases.
“Added sugars,” on the other hand, are concerning. In 2013, the American Heart Association calculated that about 25,000 deaths per year were due to sweetened beverages. “Added sugars” are also in baked goods, sweets, soups, sauces and other processed foods. You can find sugar on the ingredient list as many names, often ending in “-ose.” These include glucose, fructose, sucrose, etc.
So, “Total sugars” = “Naturally occurring sugars” + “Added sugars.”
Tips to reduce your sugar intake
For one thing, ditch as much processed food as possible, regardless of their sugar content. There are a ton of studies that show that processed foods are bad for your health. Period.
Here are some of my most popular recommendations to reduce your sugar intake, so you don’t get too much:
- Reduce (or eliminate) sugar-sweetened beverages; this includes fizzy drinks, sweetened coffee/tea, sports drinks, etc. Instead, have fruit-infused water. Or try drinking your coffee/tea “black” or with a touch of cinnamon or vanilla instead.
- Reduce (or eliminate) your desserts and baked goods and bake your own instead. You can easily reduce the sugar in a recipe by half.
- Instead of a granola bar (or other sugary snacks), try fruit, a handful of nuts, or veggies with hummus. These are easy grab-and-go snacks if you prepare them in a “to-go” container the night before.