If you were like most kids, then it makes sense that your parents didn’t want you eating sugar as a younger human being. It has a tendency to make kids hyper, unable to sleep, or just plain unable to calm down. We were told that it would rot our teeth and cause all manner of bad things (with weight gain being right up near the top of that list). But now research is showing that it’s a bit more serious than just being empty calories—it can do some hefty damage to our health. Oh, and just a head’s up… it’s everywhere! There are many occasions where it is virtually impossible to avoid sugar.
So here are five things that you maybe didn’t know about sugar… after all, knowledge is power! If you know what to look out for, your chances of survival are greatly increased.
- We are almost all addicted already: have you ever heard that you are supposed to aim to get only about 5% (or less!) of our daily caloric intake from added sugars? It’s true! But contrary to this recommendation, Canadians are consuming about 21.4%. Gasp! As the sweet topping on top of this cupcake of news, recent research has found that sweet flavours can produce addictive-like behaviours, promoting changes in the reward system of the brain that help to drive overconsumption. This means that your body can and likely will turn against you, and no matter how healthy you vow to be, you may always crave that sugar fix
- It’s hiding everywhere: you got it, pretty much everywhere! For example, did you know whole grain breads (which are typically presumed to be healthier) can contain about 3 grams of sugar per slice, and store-bought pasta sauces can have about 6 grams or more of sugar per serving?? Yikes! The best way to limit our added sugar intake (aiming for about 5% of our daily caloric intake, or about 25 grams), we should to become savvy label readers. The nutritional info grid on the side of the packaging on literally ANY food will tell you all you need to know regarding things like fat and sugar content
- Artificial sweeteners are no better: please, whatever you do, do NOT fall for artificial sweeteners as a replacement for sugar! New research is showing that consumption of non-nutritive sweeteners may promote weight gain, as well as diabetes. Your best bet is simply to stay away from artificial chemicals altogether, and try to limit added sugars
- Both have surprising health consequences: some of the health consequences of consuming too much sugar really aren’t overly surprising, such as obesity, cancer, diabetes, and heart disease. However, what you may not know is that too much sugar in your diet can also lead to fatty liver disease (no matter your weight) and even damaged memory
- There’s plenty you can do without sugar: thankfully, there’s a simple (and too obvious for words) solution: limit added sugars. Read labels, shop the perimeter of the grocery store to find unprocessed, whole foods, and choose unsweetened versions of foods when available. But the best thing about Mother Nature is that she built the best grocery store right into our backyard gardens. Fruits, vegetables, legumes, tubers and more are all great reasons to put that sugar back on the shelf. All these things taste best “au natural”, a.k.a. NO added sugars at all
All in all, avoiding processed sugars entirely may be a near-impossible task… but by limiting the sugars that you have control over, you can still make a significant difference to your health. Choose vegetables and fruits in place of sugary snack foods. Eat whole grains like quinoa or buckwheat instead of the starchy white bread varieties. Always opt for water instead of sugary juices or sodas.
Your best bet for achieving your goals FAST is to work with a professional who knows what you need to do to get there. Talk to a Heroic Health trainer today to learn tips on healthy eating and to develop a workout program that will get you the body you want!