Elite Chiropractic & Sport located in Columbia; Howard County, happily serving all of Maryland
By Dr. Stephen Knoyer, DC
Over the past few years sugar has become a major topic of conversation both in the media and with various research articles.
A few fun facts about the consumption of sugar in the USA…
- In 1822 Americans consumed 45 grams of sugar every 5 days, which is roughly one can of soda.
- In 2012 the average American consumed 756 grams of sugar every 5 days, which is roughly 130 pounds per year.
- If that doesn’t get your attention, almost 70% of the population is overweight and ⅓ is obese.
Sugar may not be the only cause of these scary stats, but it certainly is a major player. Sugar increases the risk for high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, higher risks of obesity, and iit has been linked to increased weight gain in adults and children.
Sugar works in the same pathway of the brain that many illegal drugs do. This is a reward pathway, which means people can become addicted to sugar. A study in 2008 from Princeton found rats that were on a high-sugar diet had the same signs of binging, craving and withdrawal of someone coming off illegal drugs when the intake of sugar was reduced.
On a lighter note- this doesn’t mean that eating the occasional ice cream, cake or cookie is going to make you addicted and leave you in ruins. It means education in what to look for on labels and how to avoid additional sugar in products are the best steps. Companies often list the chemical names of sugar (maltose, fructose, galactose..etc) instead of the lumped term sugar. This is very deceptive as it reduces the amount of sugar on the label and helps them drop the name to the 3rd or 4th item on the ingredients list. By law they have to list ingredients from greatest to least amounts, and by breaking the items down they move the names down. Checking on serving size is another great way to check the amount of sugar. Companies will often say reduced fat, sugar, sodium..etc but in reality they made the serving sizes smaller. The amount never changed but the serving size did, which means nothing changed.
Sugar in the form of fruits is a much better option than processed sugar.. The thing you have to remember is they also contain vitamins and minerals, which helps balance out the huge influx of sugar. You don’t tax your glycemic index the way you would with additional sugar in products and yes, if you decided to eat an entire box of fresh fruit you will spike your sugar levels (remember balanced).
A few ways to help reduce sugar are listed below…
- Cut back on the amount of sugar you may regularly add to foods and drinks, such as tea, coffee, cereal and pancakes.
- Replace sugar-sweetened beverages with sugar-free or low-calorie drinks.
- Compare food labels and select the products with the lowest amounts of added sugars.
- When baking cakes, reduce the amount of sugar in the recipe by a third. Try replacing sugar in recipes with extracts or spices, such as Cinnamon, ginger, almond or vanilla. Replace sugar on cereal or oatmeal with fruit.
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