A Bitter Sweet Mistake!
May 2010: Nutrition: Excess Sugar!
In this article, I present some of the reasons why you should avoid the habit of eating excess sugar. No matter how many times we are told not to consume too much sugar, sooner or later most of us end up falling into this trap. It begins slowly by having a little here and a little there. Then the excuses start to escalate; I will have some dessert just to taste it; there is no harm in only having some; it’s a special occasion; I worked out hard today so I deserve it; so on and so on. Before you know it, you are having sugar everyday and several times a day. This is a very common occurrence today as the numbers below will indicate.
Average Annual Consumption of Sugar
Year per person (in pounds)
1700 AD = 4
1800 AD = 18
1900 AD = 90
2000 AD =145
The numbers above are more or less the overall average of various studies. I have seen some studies indicate the current annual sugar consumption to be as high as 190 pounds per person. In any case, the exact numbers are not that important. The main point here is that sugar consumption has increased dramatically over the years. Some people are consuming well above their body weight in sugar per year which is absolutely ridiculous! Obviously, a lot of us are failing to realize the consequences of excess sugar consumption.
Excess sugar consumption can lead to hypoglycemia, metabolic syndrome, diabetes, heart disease, and chronic tiredness. Why does consuming excess sugar lead to all of these diseases? Simply, all of these diseases develop because of the imbalance of blood sugar levels. Ultra high and low spikes in blood sugar levels are not conducive to your health. Remember, one of the key factors to maintaining a healthy and vital body is to ensure your blood sugar levels are stable or balanced. I have briefly described these consequences below.
Hypoglycemia (Low Blood Sugar)
Hypoglycemia refers to the condition of having low blood sugar. Some common symptoms of hypoglycemia are headaches, irritability, depression, anxiety, blurred vision, excessive sweating and mental confusion. How does excess sugar cause your blood sugar to be too low? This is because the initial spike in blood sugar (from consuming too much sugar) eventually leads to a crash in blood sugar. Again, your blood sugar levels should not resemble a roller coaster ride.
Metabolic Syndrome (High Blood Sugar)
Metabolic syndrome also referred to as syndrome X or pre-diabetes, is another consequence of eating excess sugar. This syndrome develops when your body becomes insulin resistant and your blood sugar level is too high. What is insulin? Insulin is a hormone released by the pancreas (organ) to help blood sugar enter cells in the body to be used for energy. As a result, insulin also helps to stabilize blood sugar levels. With metabolic syndrome, insulin loses its efficiency and the pancreas must release more of it to stabilize blood sugar. The extra release of insulin usually leads to complications such as excess body weight (usually around the stomach), high blood pressure, low level of "good" cholesterol in the blood, high level of triglycerides (fats) in the blood. Ultimately, metabolic syndrome increases your risk of diabetes, heart disease and stroke.
Diabetes (High Blood Sugar)
Data from 2008 Stats Canada: 1.6 million children and adults in Canada – approximately 5% of the population – have diabetes.
Data from the 2007 National Diabetes Fact Sheet (the most recent year for which data is available): Total: 23.6 million children and adults in the United States - 7.8% of the population - have diabetes.
Pre-diabetes: 57 million people (U.S.)
New Cases: 1.6 million new cases of diabetes are diagnosed in people aged 20 years and older each year. (U.S.)
As you can see, diabetes is a rapidly growing issue. It is becoming more and more prevalent each year. Let it be clear, there is a direct correlation between the rising amounts of sugar people are consuming with the increasing prevalence of diabetes. If you know anyone that has this disease (Type 1 or 2), you will know just how terrible, uncomfortable, and freighting it can be. Remember, diabetes is a bitter consequence to a sweet habit.
Heart disease is a term that encompasses numerous conditions that affect the heart. Consuming excess sugar increases your chances of getting all of them. There are many reasons why excess sugar increases your chances of getting heart disease but I want to focus on one reason in particular. When the body cannot metabolize all the excess sugar you are consuming, it will turn the excess sugar into adipose tissue (body fat). For the most part, body fat attained from unbalanced blood sugar levels is stored around the waist, often referred to as the “spare tire” look. However, as aesthetically unpleasing as this body fat looks around the waistline, what is more important is how dangerous it can be to your health. Remember, this area is where most of your vital organs are located and the last thing you would want to do for your health is to congest your organs with body fat.
Chronic Fatigue or Tiredness
I often hear people make the excuse of having no energy to exercise. And I assure you most of them, if not all, are consuming a diet consisting mainly of sugar, refined foods, processed foods, high glycemic foods and food stuff that is nutritionally deficient or dead. How do you expect to have optimal energy eating this way? Remember, if you put the wrong fuel into a vehicle, it will not move. If you put cheap fuel into your vehicle, it will move but it will lack in performance and soon enough, it will breakdown. In contrast, when you are on an optimal diet for your unique nutritional needs, your energy will be boundless and you will look forward to exercising. I cannot emphasize enough the difference proper nutrition can have on your energy, vitality, and life.
The Solution is Old News
Below is a link to an old video from the famous and extraordinary Jack Lalanne when he had is own television show. It may surprise you that the video was recorded in the early 1950s! This video proves that this message has been preached for a very long time. However, when are people going to start listening? I hope you enjoy the video as much as I do!
I have some last words of advice to share. Be careful not to fall for the following 3 myths about sugar:
Myth # 1 - It’s healthy to eat sugar as long as it is natural such as raw honey or organic sugar cane.
Truth: This is a half-truth, although these sources are much better than refined sugar, excess sugar is always unhealthy regardless of the quality, therefore you should limit the amount of sugar you intake. You can get more than enough essential sugars from a healthy diet.
Myth # 2 - I can have extra sugar because I exercise and my body needs it.
Truth: Another half-truth, you can get glucose from various healthy carbohydrates besides sugar. All carbohydrates turn into blood sugar (glucose) and can efficiently refuel your body after exercise, instead of sugar, use locally grown vegetables and fruit. Unfortunately, too many athletes have fallen for this myth which has lead to billions of dollars in annual sales for sports drinks manufacturers. Keep in mind, consuming excess sugar is one sure way to hinder the achievement of your fitness goals.
Myth # 3 - Fruit juice is a great source of sugar.
Truth: Most fruit juices are loaded with added sugar and are simply sugar water, they go through several processes such as pasteurization, concentration, and refining which destroys their nutritional value, instead, eat organic whole fresh fruit that is locally grown (if possible) or make your own freshly squeezed fruit juice.
There are other factors such as high-glycemic, refined and processed foods that contribute to hypoglycemia, metabolic syndrome, and diabetes etc. but due to the length of this article, I was not able to cover all of these topics. For now, begin by reducing the amount of excess sugar you consume in your diet. If you wish to learn more about balancing your blood sugar levels and creating an optimal diet, book a coaching session with me today.
Your Holistic Health Coach,