Blog Header Image

Nexus Fit Co


April 10, 2024

Added Sugars and Your Health

In today's fast-paced world, we've all heard the same advice: "Cut back on sugar." But is it we should be thinking about our added sugar consumption? The answer lies in the hidden dangers of added sugar. These sweeteners can wreak havoc on our health. In this article, we'll unmask the truth about added sugar, their impact on our well-being, and why it's essential to be mindful of our sugar intake.

Added Sugar vs. Natural Sugar

Before we dive into the impact, let's distinguish between added sugar and their natural counter parts.

Added Sugar: These are sugars that are added to a food or food product with the intention of making them sweeter. They are often sugars that have often undergone extensive processing, often starting from sugar cane or sugar beets. They go through a refining process where they are stripped of beneficial nutrients and fiber, leaving behind pure sugar. The result? A sweetener that's pure energy but devoid of any nutritional value.

Natural Sugars: On the other hand, natural sugars occur naturally in foods like fruits, vegetables and dairy products. They come bundled with fiber, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.

Comparing and contrasting these two forms is important because of the host of health benefits that come with consuming fruits and vegetables despite their sugar content. For example, take an apple. An apple has vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that are all great for you. Now if you go and juice that same apple, you still get the benefits of those micronutrients, but you are now missing the fiber. It's also important to note that the juice you will get from 1 apple would be surprisingly less than a "normal" serving one would expect in a glass of apple juice.

Thus when you drink a "normal" apple juice and you will find the juice is packed with much more sugar than a single apple. The juice doesn't have the fiber and will thus have a very different impact on your body and not give you the same fullness or satisfaction you would get from eating an apple.

The World Health Organization recommends limiting added sugar to less than 50 grams per day. It's important to note that this is based on a 10% of total calorie recommendation, so the 50 grams is actually for individuals consuming a 2000 calorie diet. To add some context, a normal soda will often contain 40+ grams of sugar in one 12oz can.

Where it can get confusing:

Honey is both a naturally occurring sugar but should also be considered an added sugar. Pure honey is made by nature and no sugars are added during its production. However, consuming pure honey or honey added in a product for sweeting should be considered as contributing to total added sugar intake.

Blood Glucose Rollercoaster

One of the primary reasons to be wary of added sugars is their rapid impact on blood glucose levels. When we consume added sugars, they swiftly enter our bloodstream, causing a spike in blood sugar. This spike is followed by a crash, leaving us feeling tired and craving even more sugar. This sugar rollercoaster not only affects our daily energy levels but also has long-term repercussions on our health.

The Long-Term Consequences

Here are some of the notable long-term effects of excessive added sugar consumption:

1. Obesity: The excess calories from added sugars can contribute to weight gain and obesity. High sugar intake has been linked to an increased risk of developing obesity, which is a significant risk factor for various health issues.

2. Heart Disease: Diets high in added sugars are associated with an elevated risk of heart disease. Excessive sugar intake can lead to inflammation, high blood pressure, and unfavorable changes in blood lipids, all of which contribute to cardiovascular problems.

3. Type 2 Diabetes: Added sugars play a pivotal role in the development of type 2 diabetes. The frequent spikes in blood sugar that result from consuming sugar can lead to insulin resistance, a hallmark of this chronic condition.

4. Nutrient Depletion: Added sugars not only provide empty calories but also deplete the body of essential nutrients, as they lack the vitamins, minerals, and fiber found in whole foods containing sugar. This can lead to nutritional deficiencies over time.

Mindful Sugar Consumption

So, what can we do to protect our health in a world filled with sweet temptations?

1. Read Labels: Be vigilant about checking food labels for hidden sugars. Added sugars can be lurking under various names like sucrose, high fructose corn syrup, various fruit syrups, and more.

2. Choose Whole Foods: Prioritize whole foods over processed ones. Natural sugars found in fruits, vegetables, and dairy products come packaged with the nutrients your body needs.

3. Moderate Your Intake: While the occasional treat is perfectly fine, it's essential to limit your consumption of foods and beverages high in added sugars. The not-so-sweet truth about added sugars is clear: they may satisfy our taste buds momentarily, but they can harm our health in the long run. By making conscious choices to reduce our intake of added sugar and opting for whole, nutritious foods, we can take a significant step towards safeguarding our well-being.

So the next time you reach for that sugary snack, pause and consider all your snack options available. See if a healthier alternative makes sense. Your body will thank you for it.

Continue reading