Sugar

by Mark Whalen

 

This week 60 Minutes ran a story about sugar being toxic.  The link to the full segment can be found here.   I recommend taking 15 minutes to watch it.

The big takeaways from the segment are:

1)   Excess sugar converts to fat in the body- driving up LDL (bad) cholesterol

2)   Sugar affects our brains in similar ways to addictive drugs like cocaine

3)   Sugar may impact cancer cell growth

 

The video does a good job of discussing some of the problems associated with excess sugar consumption.

I want to touch on two key points regarding sugar as it relates to weight gain.

First off, some math.

The average American eats 1/3 of a pound of sugar per day- 130 pounds per year! 1

One third of a pound is 5.28 oz per day (.33 x 16 oz).  There are roughly 96 calories per ounce of sugar2.  At 5.28oz per day, the average American eats 507 calories of sugar per day.   It takes a deficit of 3500 calories to lose 1lb of fat.  Given these numbers, the average person is ingesting over 3500 calories per week in sugar!

It is no stretch to see why sugar is linked with the rise in obesity numbers.

Sugar is Addictive

In the 60 Minutes segment, they discussed the addictive nature of sugar, illustrating how it affects our brains reward system and the release of dopamine.  This reaction creates an escalating need for more sugar.

As it relates to weight loss, this is a crucial point.  The ideas of exercise more, eat less and a ‘calorie is a calorie’ need to be re-examined in light of this growing new evidence.  Weight loss is not just about calories or will power.   Our eating patterns are driven by hormonal signals in our body.  You can escape the addictive cycle, but it takes time and effort.

Food Labels- what to look for

Part of the effort required is to simply read food labels.  If you want to avoid additional, unwanted sugar in your diet, you must read labels.  Looking for only the word sugar isn’t enough. Sugar comes in many forms and has many names.

Here are but a few3:

High Fructose Corn Syrup            Evaporated Cane Juice

Cane Sugar                                        Maltodextrin

Honey                                                 Sorbitol

Molasses                                             Fructose

Date sugar                                         Dextrose

 

For a more complete listing, check out the list over at figsugar.com:  Sugar names .

Bottom line is this:

DON’T TRUST THE FRONT OF A FOOD PACKAGE.

THE LABELS ARE MEANT TO ENTICE YOU TO BUY.

READ THE INGREDIENTS LIST BEFORE MAKING A BUYING DECISION.

 

I think one of the best things you can do for your health is to avoid sugar as much as possible.  This doesn’t mean you can never have a cookie or a cupcake again, but you must be willing to modify your eating in order to achieve good health.

-Mark

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  1. http://www.nydailynews.com/life-style/health/researcher-sugar-addictive-cocaine-obesity-diabetes-cancer-heart-disease-article-1.1054419
  2. wiki.answers
  3. fitsugar.com

Mark Whalen is a Licensed Acupuncturist and Board Certified Herbalist and the founder of Five Points Acupuncture & Wellness in Reading, MA.

Mark Whalen – who has written posts on Acupuncture Reading MA - Five Points Acupuncture & Wellness.


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