FoodFIT Friday: THE REAL SCOOP ON SUGAR
Recent studies have revealed that sugar is a deadly toxin to the human body. While we need some sugar in our diet for energy to our cells, muscles, and brain, excessive sugar consumption is responsible for increasing rates of obesity, diabetes, insulin resistance, heart disease, kidney and liver disease, other chronic illnesses, mood disorders and even cancer!
But the real culprit is fructose. High fructose consumption is the NUMBER 1 cause of health concerns in the United States! Unlike glucose and other sugars, fructose interferes with the body’s natural hunger and satiation hormones, beginning a downward spiral of health problems.
What is fructose? Fructose is a monosaccharide sugar that occurs naturally in most fruits, some vegetables, and honey. In some cases, it’s a very useful thing, particularly for high-intensity athletic training or workouts. In other cases, too much simply adds to insulin resistance and other health problems. Limiting natural fructose can reset your metabolic system, help you lose weight and have more energy.
The real danger, however, isn’t this natural fructose, but high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), a cheap, “fake sugar” that is made from (usually GMO) corn, and is twice as sweet as sucrose (table sugar) and twice as deadly. It’s widely used in processed foods — sodas, vitamin waters, cereals, baked goods, peanut butters, jams, tomato sauces, and condiments. Basically, in anything in a box, can or jar!
Many Americans consume more than 100 grams of fructose daily. The recommended amount is under 25 grams a day. Even if you eat a “healthy” diet, you are probably consuming more fructose than you think.
Reducing your intake of HFCS is the first step on the path to becoming FoodFIT ™. While I don’t advocate counting grams, I do recommend that you begin to read labels of all processed foods. If a product you usually buy has high fructose corn syrup in the ingredients or a high number of sugar grams in the informational list, PUT IT BACK ON THE SHELF! Gradually, you will discover that much of what you have been eating is filled with deadly fructose.
You should also learn which fruits have less fructose than others. A glass of orange juice has almost 5 times the amount of fructose as a whole orange! Dried fruits have more fructose than fresh, and the lowest fructose content can be found in lemons, limes, cranberries and cantaloupe. Beware of bottled “smoothies” and juices, which can have a whole day’s worth of fructose in them (and none of the helpful enzymes). Also, be wary of “fruit juice sweetened” natural foods — they also have high fructose content!!!!
If you just need a little sweetness, you can satisfy your craving for sugar in other ways: If you usually use table sugar (which is a combination of glucose and fructose) in your coffee, tea, cereal or baking, try using real maple syrup or Stevia, a natural, safe South American herb that is available in powder or liquid forms. Avoid artificial sweeteners like Splenda, which are filled with toxins. Honey, while natural, is very high in fructose. Agave, the new “natural” sweetener, is even higher in fructose than HFCS!
If you begin to reduce the amount of fructose in your diet, you will soon discover the natural sweetness of foods, just as they are!
Lauryn Axelrod, CHHC
HealthSPORT Nutrition Coach