Cast your eyes along almost any grocery store shelf. It sometimes seems as if there’s a low-fat or fat-free version of nearly every commercial food product. But what about a sugar free diet?
Nutritional research studies show we just eat these foods up. Years of concerted effort to educate consumers about the relationship between a high fat diet and heart disease really made the low-fat mantra part of the consumer consciousness.
Less Fat, More Gain
Indeed, the percentage of fat in the average American’s diet has actually declined over the last 20 years, so why are Americans themselves still getting fatter and fatter?
Probably because fat isn’t the only villain in the obesity epidemic. While high-cholesterol dietary fats are definitely a chief contributor to the problems of heart disease, when we talk about the rapid increase in the rates of obesity and diabetes, the fat isn’t where it’s at.
No, more than likely, it’s the sugar. Research shows that while we so painstakingly avoided fats, Americans’ consumption of sugar has increased by 30 percent over the last couple decades. The average American adult eats nearly 200 pounds of sugar a year!
But it’s not just the obvious offenders like candy, snacks and soda. Even things we think of as good for us are full of sugar: juice and sport drinks, breakfast cereals, baked goods.
Canned fruits and vegetables are often full of added sugar, even those we don’t tend to think of as ‘sweet.’ Pick up almost any canned tomato product; sugar is likely to be listed second or third among the ingredients.
The USDA recommends that we eat no more than 10 teaspoons of added sugars a day, but many foods provide that maximum in just one serving!
A cup of regular fruit yogurt provides 70 percent of a day’s worth of added sugar; a 12-ounce Pepsi provides 103 percent, and a Hostess Lemon Fruit Pie provides 115 percent.
So What is Sugar, Exactly?
Physiologically speaking, sugar is the most basic source of fuel for our bodies. All our foods can eventually be broken down into molecular sugars, and indeed, they must be, in order for us to convert them to energy.
The complex processes of digestion and metabolism do that job. Carbohydrates are easiest for the body to convert, followed by proteins and dietary fats. But the highly processed sugar in most commercial foods is already close to the pure form our digestion process is supposed to produce.
That makes it much more quickly absorbed, which will cause a spike in the blood sugar. That, in turn, causes a spike in the production of insulin, the hormone that processes normal blood sugars into cellular energy.
To learn more, please call our office at 239-288-2789.