How Sugar Has Ruined America
Sugar seems to be everywhere nowadays; almost all food products contain some type of artificial or additive sugars. In fact, companies add sugar to their products to increase sales. This is because America is addicted to sugar. The average American consumes up to 100g of sugar a day — the equivalent of three sodas. Although soda is becoming less accessible in schools, they are being replaced by sports drinks which are essentially sugar-water with just as high sugar content.
So we like sweet things. What now?
Let’s start with the obvious — diabetes. Diabetes used to be reserved for the elderly when their insulin production is slowed due to age and degeneration. However, this condition has been affecting our youths at a much younger age. According to the American Diabetes Association, up to 210,000 Americans under the age of 20 have been diagnosed with diabetes and was the seventh leading cause of death in the United States in 2017.
Type II diabetes is the most common form of diabetes; type I is genetically-inherited. It is when your body becomes sensitized to sugar from excessive sugar intake and can no longer produce enough insulin to keep up. This is called insulin resistance. In this state, your body can no longer control the high sugar content in your blood which can lead to serious health conditions such as heart diseases, vision loss, and kidney disease. Research has also shown that diabetes has an impact on the brain, increasing the risk for Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia.
Sounds pretty bad, what can we do?
As obvious as it might sound, lowering your sugar intake is the most effective way to compact diabetes. Let’s put it into perspective; the American Heart Association recommends no more than 37.5g of sugar for men and 25g for women per day. One can of your favorite soda contains just over 38g of sugar and is enough to exceed our daily limit. Substitute your juices, sodas, energy drinks, and sports drinks with a simple glass of water is a huge step forward. The frappuccinos that we all love at Starbucks can contain up to 100g per cup! That’s almost four days worth of recommended intake in women. Crazy, right?
Aside from sugar-filled beverages, artificial sweeteners and refined carbohydrates are also major culprits in diabetes. Artificial sweeteners might be low in calories; however, they have been found to trigger insulin release and prolonged use can also lead to insulin resistance. Refined carbohydrates, on the other hand, can be tricky as they appear in foods that are not necessarily labeled as sugar. These include white bread, pizza dough, pasta, pastries, white rice, and breakfast cereals. Their high glycemic index causes an unhealthy spike in blood sugar levels which can result in insulin sensitization and diabetes.
So, what can I eat?
Fruits and vegetables! Green leafy vegetables and citrus fruits like berries are great foods to include in your diet. Whole grains such as wheat and brown rice are also a great addition. Lean proteins and fatty fish such as salmon are also recommended. Moreover, substituting your candy and chocolate bars with nuts and seeds is an awesome idea!
At the end of the day, it’s all about balance. Treat yourself once in a while, have a cake on your birthday. (Cheesecake is Dr. Anthony’s favorite) This article is meant to give you a different perspective on sugar and health, and most importantly, to raise your awareness so that the next time you decide to order a 100g-sugar-filled frappuccino from Starbucks, you can think of me and grab iced water instead.