When I was little, I remember my Grandpa calling my Grandmother ‘Sugar.’ He called her that almost exclusively, to the point where I thought her two names were Gams and Sugar.
And I get it, sugar is sweet, and my Grandpa (as did the rest of the world) thought Gams was just the sweetest thing on the planet.
But sugar itself isn’t so great. Actually, that was quite an understatement. Excess sugar is a driving force between the obesity epidemic and the chronic diseases that have become our nation’s biggest killers.
How much sugar are we eating?
According to a Euromonitor study, Americans eat an average of 126 grams of sugar per day. A little more than three, 12 oz cans of coke per day. That’s about 22.5 teaspoons, which comes to out to around 330 calories that provide absolutely no nutritional value.
We’re also consuming more sugar than any other country in the world. The world. No one eats more sugar than Americans.
So how much should we be eating? WHO recommends that we consume less than 10% of calories from sugar. Even better, it says if we consume less than 5%. For normal body weight, 10% would be around 50 grams, 5% around 25 grams of sugar.
This means we’re eating 2.5 times the amount of sugar that the WHO recommends. And if we go by the 5% rule, we’re eating 5 times the amount of sugar that we should be.
But I don’t drink soda (let alone three cans) and I don’t even eat candy. Where is all this sugar coming from?
Everywhere. Well, almost. Added sugar has taken over grocery stores, and hides inside the processed foods we eat on a regular basis.
Ketchup, for example, has added sugar. One tablespoon has about 4 grams of sugar.(1 teaspoon). And if you’re anything like me growing up, or the majority of Americans, you’re dipping those french fries into more than one tablespoon.
Grande Starbucks Vanilla Frappuccino has 58 grams of sugar.
One Oreo cookie has 3.5 grams of sugar (and who eats just one Oreo cookie. If you do, I really want to talk to you).
One Yoplait container of strawberry yogurt has 27 grams of sugar.
So we eat a lot of sugar. Why does it matter?
Because it’s killing us. Well, maybe not on it’s own. But it’s certainly not helping – it is a serious contributor to obesity, and the chronic diseases that we are living with. Here are just some of the ways that sugar is harming our bodies and health.
- It’s killing our livers: Too much sugar can be kind of like alcohol. Too much sugar stresses out our liver, and can cause liver damage. It can cause Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD).
- It can lead to diabetes and metabolic syndrome: When we over consume sugar, we can become resistance to insulin. And insulin resistance can lead to many diseases and complications. Insulin controls the amount of glucose in our blood, and when we become “resistant” to it, there can be serious complications. Insulin resistance can lead to type II diabetes.
- Sugar can cause cancer: Like we said, excess sugar can lead to elevate insulin levels. Some studies suggest that elevated insulin levels can lead to cancer.
- It can cause weight gain: Of course, other things can cause weight gain as well. But sugar, specifically fructose, won’t fill us up. Consuming empty calories of sugar won’t satisfy our hunger, and lead us to eat more, causing us to gain weight in the long run.
- It can cause skin problems: If you’re eating a lot of sugar, you may develop acne, inflammation, dryness, and other skin issues. Want clear skin? Try cutting the sugar out.
Yikes, so what now?
There is SO much more to say about sugar. And we’ll get there. But for now, absorb the above information, and read labels when you’re shopping! And if you need a little more inspiration to cut the sugar out of your life, check out this story, or download Nutrino for to get recipes with no added sweetener!