There's no denying it: Humans have a love/hate relationship with sugar. Each year, the average person consumes more processed sugar than his or her body weight. And the human body is not genetically conditioned to this kind of treatment. As a result, people are heavier today than they ever were.
"Sugar feels like it gives you energy, but it doesn't. It spikes your insulin levels and then drops lower than before when you crash," says fitness expert and nutritionist Angela Martindale. "The body doesn't want high insulin levels. When insulin is present, the body cannot burn fat."
Not only do these simple sugars prevent the fat from burning, they add calories (one teaspoon has 16 calories) and provide no nutritional value. Simple sugars have also been known to do the following:
- Suppress your immune system
- Cause type II diabetes
- Decay teeth
- Form kidney stones and gout deposits
- Promote excessive food intake
They've also been linked to several types of deficiencies and even cancers. These are just a few of the harmful effects of sugars.
Needless to say, anyone looking to have a healthier diet may want to take a long and realistic look at his or her daily sugar intake. More often than not, it's much higher than expected.
In today's world though, with sugar being so cheap and so accessible, it may be unrealistic to expect to eliminate all of it right away. The American Heart Association notes that one of the biggest carriers' of sugar is soft drinks, and recommends no more than 450 calories per week from sugar-sweetened beverages. In fact, one single can of soda usually has more than your entire daily recommendation of only 25 grams.
But Martindale suggests being cautious about generalizations and recommends eliminating processed sugar from your diet entirely. According to the AHA, "To get the nutrients you need, eat a diet that's rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean meats, fish, poultry and low-fat or fat-free dairy products. Typically, foods high in added sugars do not have the nutrients the body needs and only contain extra calories."
The AHA also provides several tips on how to weed out sugar from your diet. Have you gone off sugar? Share your tips for keeping it up below.
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