What's so bad about sugar anyway? I've done a few in-depth posts on sugar which you can read here: Sugar, It's not that sweet and Fructose, the not so innocent sugar. Here are some highlights from those posts, and some facts about sugar to help you understand how you process sugar when you eat it, in any form.
- Consuming sugar (in any form natural, artificial, etc) causes an insulin response in the body, the insulin response is directly related to how much sugar is taken in
- Most Americans are insulin resistant, which means that it requires larger and larger amounts of insulin to process the same amount of sugar you eat - this is what eventually leads to type 2 diabetes in many people
- Increased insulin responses from being insulin resistant and eating sugar in our diets increases the amount of inflammation in your body which leads to many diseases: coronary heart disease, type II diabetes, high blood pressure, and stroke (e.g., many of the diseases we are trying to avoid to stay healthy)
- Artificial sweeteners may not have any calories but they have the same effect on your body's insulin response, which encourages your body to hoard calories and store them as fat every time insulin is released.
- Sugar, not fat, is actually the culprit in adding many of the extra pounds each year
- Sugar is sneaky and is added in foods under many names, its not just white and brown sugar. Sugar is also called things like high-fructose corn syrup, maple syrup, rice syrup, cane syrup, cane juice, honey and molasses, glucose, maltose, dextrose, and more!
- Sugar is addictive! As native populations are westernized (experienced to the western culture and diet) the increase of western diseases rises (cardiovascular disease, hypertension, diabetes) along with the consumption of modern foods primarily ones containing refined sugar.
4. Don't trust the "healthy" label
Read the labels and ingredients on "health" foods too. Just because it's for sale at Whole Foods or Trader Joe's, labelled gluten free, or heart healthy don't assume that the item actually IS healthy. Many foods that aren't good for you are trying to find something good in them and highlight that. Be careful about things labeled Organic as well, Organic Cookies are not good for you just because they are organic! As we I said in #1, read the label and see if there are added sugars hiding there and remember to take a look at the rest of the ingredients as well. If it tastes too good to be truly healthy for you...it just might be too good to be true.
Real world example #1: Cashew Pretzel Zone Bar -- how many times do you see sugar listed in this "healthy" bar? **hint I bolded it for you**
Soy Protein Nuggets (Soy Protein Isolate, Tapioca Starch, Salt), Roasted Cashews (Cashews, Peanut Oil, Salt), Yogurt Chips (Dried Cane Syrup, Fractionated Palm Kernel Oil, Nonfat Milk, Nonfat Yogurt Powder [Cultured Nonfat Milk], Soy Lecithin, Lactic Acid Powder [Modified Corn Starch, Lactic Acid], Natural Flavor), Pretzels (Wheat Flour, Salt, Corn Syrup, Yeast), Corn Syrup, Fructose Syrup, Caramel (Corn Syrup, Sugar, Nonfat Milk, Fractionated Palm Kernel Oil, Glycerine, Milk Protein Concentrate, Cream, Natural Flavor, Salt, Soy Lecithin, Disodium Phosphate), Soy Protein Isolate, Brown Rice Syrup, Peanut Flour, Peanut Butter, Fructose.
Less than 2% of the Following: Glycerine, High Oleic Safflower Oil and/or High Oleic Sunflower Oil, Natural Flavors, Xanthan Gum.
Real world example #2: Cranberry Almond + Antioxidant KIND Bar