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Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Sugar Isn't So Sweet, After All

I love sugar. Let me try that again - I love sugar in moderation. Today, sugar comes in the form of desserts, ice cream, fruit drinks, soda drinks, energy drinks, cookies; making everything delicious but nutritionally empty. The American Heart Association currently recommends 25 grams per day for women and 38 grams per a day for men - which is equivalent roughly to a cup of chocolate milk. So, while the FDA recommends 10 teaspoons of the sweet stuff per day, we're feeding ourselves as much as 34 teaspoons. Surprising, isn't it?

Sugar in all forms - from high fructose corn syrup to honey - has been linked to heart disease, obesity and diabetes, to name a few. The metabolization of sugar can depress the immune system. When we ingest too much sugar our body pumps out insulin to regulate blood sugar levels, when this is done our body is more inclined to store fat as well as inhibit natural growth hormones (thus depressing your immune system). Since the early 80s, the amount of sugar consumed in the United States has increased by as much as 30%, and it is no surprise that the frequency of diet-related diseases and problems have risen, as well.

That being said, I think it's important to understand what that means and how to slowly wean ourselves off of a high-sugar diet.

So, your first reaction is to freak out and swear off doughnuts forever. This is where I think you should take a moment and think: will a state of poor health be fixed by solely sugar? Most likely not. Simply focusing on the elimination of sugar and allowing other things to slip by your radar will not help you. There are plenty of products that are low in sugar, but are still very much bad for your health.

The things you normally eat that are tasty and sweetened, try mixing with an organic, less sweetened alternative of the same product. For instance, if you normally eat strawberry Gogurt, try mixing it with plain flavored or vanilla flavored Greek yogurt. Slowly increase the amount of the less-sugary alternative.

Cut everything in half rather than eliminating sugar totally. Instead of 2 cubes of sugar in your coffee, try 1.

When you're cooking for yourself, don't add sugar. A lot of recipes will be just fine without it. (I'm obviously not talking about desserts). If you're baking desserts however, try using less sugars and sprinkles and using sweet alternatives like cinnamon or apple pie spice.

Don't keep sweets at home. Keep healthier alternatives like fruits! If you want ice cream or cake, make it something you have to be mobile to attain (a.k.a. bike a block to the nearest Dairy Queen).

With the previous suggestion in mind, with the foods that you do keep at home.. be sure that there are no hidden forms of sugar. Some common ingredient-label names for which to keep your eyes peeled: corn syrup, dextrose, fruit juice concentrate, sorbitol, xylitol, high-fructose corn syrup, dextrin, galactose, honey, molasses, sorghum, raw sugar, turbinado sugar, sugar maltose.

Try to avoid sport-supplementing drinks and foods. They're usually packed with sugar.

Avoid a lot of sweetened drinks; cut your consumption in half, dilute them and get yourself into drinking water. Every time you find yourself thirsty, get yourself some water or soda water. Most sugary drinks like soda won't actually hydrate you, anyway.

If you eat cereal in the morning, watch out! Most of them are loaded with sugar. Find an unsweetened one, instead, and try adding fruit slices. Or, better yet, cook yourself a hot breakfast of oatmeal or grits (NOT INSTANT).

Steven Johnson is committed to helping people maintain healthy and effective lifestyles. For more information on any other health supplements please visit his website Alternative Health Supplements at

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