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Some not-so-sweet facts about sugar

November 12, 2020

Guest blog: Elizabeth Raulston, MS, CPT, Siskin Health & Fitness Center
Wellness Expertise

It’s nearly holiday time – when sweets will be everywhere we look. It will be oh so tempting to indulge in your holiday favorites, with the promise of discipline after New Year’s. But your body will not appreciate the constant fusillade of all that extra sugar. Read on to learn more about this deadly treat.
What happens when sugar is consumed

When you consume any food, there is a corresponding rise and subsequent fall in your blood glucose (sugar) levels. However, when you eat that sugary dessert with its abundance of glucose, the body metabolizes it differently in ways that may lead to heath problems down the road. For example, when glucose enters the blood stream, it stimulates the pancreas to release insulin, the body’s main regulator of sugar in the bloodstream. Excess glucose will lead to an excess insulin release. When this occurs, glucose ends up stored as lipid in fat tissue, rather than a quick source of energy. Excess fat storage can lead to fatty liver disease, increase risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

Should you avoid sugar altogether?

Not all glucose (sugar) consumption is bad! The brain relies on sugar for fuel so we can think, continue to learn and form memories. The American Heart Association (AHA) has published recommendations for sugar in take in both men and women. The AHA recommends that men should consume no more than nine teaspoons (36 grams or 150 calories) of added sugar per day. Women, on the other hand, should consume no more than six teaspoons (25 grams or 100 calories of added sugar per day). To put this into perspective, consider that one 12-ounce of soda contains eight teaspoons (32 grams) of added sugar.

What the labels say

Sugar is the master of disguise! Just because you do not see the word “sugar” on the ingredient list when scanning a nutrition label, that does not guarantee the item is sugar or sweetener-free. Sugar goes by many different names, making it easy for manufacturers to hide how much sugar is truly in a product. There are approximately 56 different names for sugar. While some of these names are more obvious, like brown and cane sugar, others are trickier to spot, such as maltodextrin, dextrose, fructose, galactose, glucose, lactose, maltose, sucrose. When you see these names try to avoid or cut back on the amount or frequency of consumption.

You’re in the driver’s seat

Despite the abundance of extra sugar surrounding everything during the holidays, we can make healthy choices. Make it a goal to eat less added sugar!