Excess sugar is the enemy
Sugar has been the bane of society for thousands of years. Diabetes is not a new disease. However, because sugar is a major ingredient in many food products we eat today, it’s becoming an epidemic.
There are over 100 million people in the US who are either diabetic or pre-diabetic according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The rest of the world is doing it’s best to catch up since most industrialized countries have now adopted a similar lifestyles as the US.
We have been programmed to like excess sugar
I am sure many of you are familiar with the following phrases:
“A little bit of sugar makes every thing go down”
“Girls are made of sugar and spice . . .”
“Just a spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down”
Sugar rush – If you want an energy boost then get some excess sugar in your diet
Or well-known songs:
‘Brown Sugar’ by the Rolling Stones was a popular song a few years ago.
A Spoonful of Sugar – Julie Andrews
Sugar, Sugar – The Archies
Sugar Pie Honey Bunch – The Four Tops, Kid Rock
There is even a popular college football ‘Bowl Game’ associated with sugar called the ‘Sugar Bowl‘. It was created by major sugar producers in the early 1900s and played in New Orleans, Louisiana, home of the second largest sugar producers in the US. It was created as a way to bring more attention to their product, which it did . . . resulting in much success and growth of the industry.
It’s no wonder we are addicted to sugar. We have the industry and marketers encouraging us to have more of it. Life will be better if we add more sugar. We’ll have more fun and everything will be sweeter.
Benefits of sugar
In spite of its many negatives, we all need some sugar in our bodies because:
- It supplies us with energy to do everything – helps keeps our bodily functions ( eg. heart, lungs) working smoothly,
- Gives us immediate energy, and
- Can be stored for future use (glycogen).
- It’s also necessary for increase brain activity. That’s right! Our brain needs the sweet stuff to operate efficiently.
Too much sugar however, will put you into what’s called a ‘sugar high’ from which we crash and need more sugar to support our addiction. Similar to a drug addict.
The sugar we must avoid are those added at the processing level of the foods we buy – ketchup and many bottled sauces, dressings, marinades, cereals, breads, protein bars and snack bars. These are just a few of the thousands of products with added sugar.
It’s incumbent on you to know the different names – whether hidden or clearly indicated – for added sugar and how to recognize them on product labels.
Different names for sugar
Sugar comes in many forms and under many different names – some obvious while others are not so plainly named. A good way to identify the naturally occurring sugars is if the label ends in ‘ose’. Some common examples are:
- Glucose – another name for sugar and is the result of carbohydrates being broken down in the digestion process.
- Dextrose is a simple sugar made from corn.
- Sucrose is the common table sugar in your pantry or on your table. It’s made from sugar cane or beets. It’s also found in fruits and veggies.
- Fructose – a natural by-product of fruits.
- Lactose – Naturally contained in milk.
- Maltose – is a natural ingredient used in making beer and malted milkshakes. It’s a sugar found in small amounts in foods like potatoes, corn, grains and nuts. However when these foods are digested or cooked . . . maltose sugar is produced as a by-product.
Food manufacturers have enhanced the sweetness in many natural products by adding ingredients to make them even tastier. And causing us to want more of their foods, especially children who are more vulnerable. Cereals, for example, are loaded with sugary ingredients so it’s no wonder they develop the sugar habit as they get older.
Some of the not so obvious or confusing labels for sugar are :
- Molasses – basically liquid sugar. It occurs in the process of producing granulated sugar.
- Corn syrup is similar to molasses. It’s simply a sugar that has been extracted from corn and processed into a liquid form.
- Barley malt – a sugar extract made from the fermenting process of the barley kernel.
- Agave nectar – a sweetener derived from the agave plant
- Maltodextrin – is a carbohydrate that gets into the blood stream quickly as sugar. It is high on the glycemic index and will definitely spike you blood sugar to unhealthy levels. It’s usually found in products like yogurt, meal replacements shakes, baked goods, chips, even sugar-free sweeteners and dressings . . . to name a few.
- Caramel – is sweetener produced by heating various sugars to a certain temperature making it a liquid or semi-soft product. It’s used in ice creams, puddings and custards as well as certain candies.
- Treacle is a thick black syrup found in sweets and puddings used primarily in Europe.
- Evaporated Cane Juice is another form of sugar produced by refining sugar cane or sugar beets. .
- High Fructose Corn Syrup
- Sorghum Syrup is a sweetener derived from the processing of the sorghum grass
- Fruit Juice is usually added to many natural products such as soda or fizzy drinks to enhance the sweet taste. Examples are cane juice, peach nectar, pear nectar, pineapple juice.
Food companies spend an enormous amount money on researching human taste preferences and how to make their products tastier. Don’t be one of their guinea pigs.
As stated earlier, sugar naturally occurs in certain foods like fruits. But when additional sweeteners are included, such as in canned fruits (pears, peaches, etc.), our consumption of the sweet stuff goes up.
Make better food choices by becoming a label reader and knowing the make up of various foods. You may be surprised by the amount of excess sugars you are consuming everyday without knowing it.
Good sources of natural sugar
- Fruits – apples, bananas, pineapple, peaches, melons
- dairy – milk, yogurt, kefir
- Wheat – whole wheat bread. It should have more than 51% whole wheat in it. There are a lot of fakes on the market.
- Veggies – carrots, beets
- Spices – cinnamon, ginger
Don’t add unnecessary sugars in your foods. And make an effort to start a consistent daily activity that raises your heart rate for at least fifteen minutes.
Visit How to Prevent Pre-diabetes for more information. I will show you how to use easy exercises you can do from right where you are now to get you heart rate up.