The truth about sugar revealed, Find out the not so sweet truth about sugar

Jillian | Smith

Much of today’s dieting and health advice centers around calories, carbohydrates, trans fats, and saturated fats. All of this is ignoring the real culprit behind many of the issues Americans face today: sugar.

In the United States, it is estimated that 93 million Americans are affected by obesity following information gathered by the Obesity Action Coalition. More than 9 million children and teens, six to 19 years-old are considered overweight according to the Obesity Action Coalition.

Sugar is in all of our processed foods, school lunches, even some of the snacks that we think are healthy. If we can eliminate these massive quantities of sugar from our daily diets, we can potentially reduce childhood obesity, diabetes and various cardiovascular dangers.

While there are many critiques of this argument, the truth is, whether sugar is the real cause of all of America’s obesity woes or not, individually, we consume an average of 130 pounds of sugar a year. There’s nothing wrong with cutting that number down a bit, right?

Here are some important facts about sugar, left out of the books in health class, that can seriously affect your weight as well as your overall health.

What happens when you eat sugar

A few different things happen when we eat sugar that affect different areas of the body. According to Alexander, the instant the sugar touches your tongue, receptors in your brain cause dopamine to be released. (This is why it feels pretty awesome to eat a hot Krispy Kreme doughnut, even if you know you shouldn’t.)

The Sugar Smart Diet explains how sugar then goes into your stomach where acids break it down into fructose and glucose. Glucose seeps through the walls of the small intestine, signaling the pancreas to secrete insulin. Insulin attaches to glucose and carries it  from the blood to cells where it can be converted into energy.

Fructose also seeps through the walls of the small intestine and goes to the liver to be processed. According to Alexander, our livers, as well as our cells, can be easily overwhelmed by too much sugar.

Eventually, the consumption of too much sugar can cause the liver to stop processing fructose, causing fatty growths. It can also cause the cells to become “immune” to glucose-carrying insulin molecules, leaving them floating throughout your bloodstream. These two problems can quickly lead to  non-alcoholic liver cancer and diabetes Alexander says.

What to do about it

So on average, we should be consuming six to nine teaspoons of sugar every day according to the American Heart Association. This is about 100-150 calories from sugar per day. To put that into perspective, one 12oz can of coke contains 140 calories from sugar.

“When we pair snacking with zoning-out activities, such as TV, we tend to over-consume, said University Dining dietician Danielle Mayber. “Another strike against us is that our typical choice of snack late at night is generally high in sugar and fat.”

Sugar is all around us and added sugars are in most of our foods.

“Choose healthy snacks reach for veggies, low-sugar fruits or low-fat dairy, and you are good to go. Also, eat every few hours. That built-up hunger spins your cravings out of control at night, so follow these tips and avoid the lure of late-night junk food binges,” she said.

We don’t pig out on high sugar foods only at night, however, so remember when you’re on campus thinking about what to eat, avoid any food or drink that contains more than 50 calories from sugar. While that is still about half of your recommended daily amount, it is a good rule of thumb to realistically begin incorporating a low-sugar diet into your daily routine.

Every month, try to get that number even lower. Maybe try aiming for 40 calories from sugar next month, 30 in December and so on and so forth. You may be surprised by the results!

This image requires an alt attribute.