Hey, Sugar! (How Sugar Has Taken Over The World)


In English, we use words that have a "sweet" connotation to say something is good or loved or desired: 


Honey bun




Cutie pie


Sweet Cheeks

Sugar Mama/Daddy/Baby


Most people don't realize it but sugar REALLY is everywhere.

It's in nearly all processed foods, all through our food pyramid, our schools and advertisements, influencing our children and even in our language. 

Sugar is shown to wreak havoc in the body, much more so than we ever thought. This study (one of many) links sugar to hypertension, obesity,  metabolic syndrome, diabetes, kidney disease and cardiovascular disease. 

Gary Taubes new book, "The Case Against Sugar" discusses the toxic effects of sugar in the body in far more detail. 

But how much is too much sugar in an average person's diet? I have non-diabetic kids and while they're not on a low carb diet, they do eat LOWER carb/sugar than their friends and the average kid in the USA....but it may not be low enough.

According to this article by Sugarscience.org

"The AHA limits for children vary depending on their age and caloric needs, but range between 3-6 teaspoons (12 - 25 grams) [of sugar] per day.

That is in line with the World Health Organization's (WHO) recommendation that no more than 10% of an adult's calories – and ideally less than 5% – should come from added sugar or from natural sugars in honey, syrups and fruit juice. For a 2,000-calorie diet, 5% would be 25 grams.

Limit daily sugar to 6 tsps (25 g) for women, 9 tsps  (38 g) for men.

Yet, the average American consumes 19.5 teaspoons (82 grams) every day. That translates into about 66 pounds of added sugar consumed each year, per person."

To put this into perspective, a moderately sweet breakfast cereal contains 10 grams of sugar. A slice of bread could contain 3 grams of sugar. Maybe you have two... that's 6 grams of sugar

This is not counting total carbs at all, just ADDED sugar.

What about naturally occurring sugars? Add to the above breakfast a cup of skim milk with 10 grams of lactose (sugar) and a glass of orange juice or a banana with 10 grams of fructose (sugar) and you've gone way over the recommended limit of sugar per day- JUST FOR ONE MEAL!

Sugar hides in unlikely places

I was hurrying at the grocery store this morning and grabbed Sunbutter as an alternative for my daughters' lunches at their nut-free school. I stupidly didn't look at the ingredients and I got burned.

There it was. Second ingredient: sugar.

In fact, 1 oz/28 grams of sunflower kernels contains 6 grams of carbs and 1 gram of sugar (per nutritiondata). In Sunbutter, the added dehydrated cane syrup (sugar) nearly doubles the carbs and triples the sugar content, while still claiming "Natural". 

("Natural" does not mean it's unprocessed or in it's unadulterated form without additives. According to the FDA, the term "Natural" is unregulated.)

What about the sliced lunchmeat that you put on that salad, or mayonnaise, or a cup of yogurt? While it may not LOOK like those products contain added sugar when reading the nutrition labels, added sugar can be hidden behind a sneaky name: 

Sugar. Maltodextrin, HFCS (high fructose corn syrup), corn sweetener, corn syrup, dextrose, fructose, fruit juice concentrates, glucose, high-fructose corn syrup, invert sugar, lactose, maltose, malt syrup, raw sugar, sucrose, sugar syrup, cane crystals, cane sugar, crystalline fructose, evaporated cane juice, corn syrup solids, malt syrup and others...

In the USA, there's no current requirement to put a line for "added sugar" on food labels so it's difficult to decipher which sugars are naturally occurring and which are added (although they all add up as carbs and your body processes them in the same way.) This will be changing by July 2018 when MOST food labels in the USA will be required to list added sugar as a separate line item, but I argue that this is too little, too late and most average consumers won't care anyway. 

In fact, my greatest stress since starting a low carb way of eating two years ago has been going to the grocery store. If there are packaged goods, I read all labels and more often than not, there is added sugar in one (or more) of it's many forms. It's depressing. Knowing that there is a sea of "food" products mass marketed to the public that are loaded with carbs (many of which are added sugar) and so few people pay any attention and actually care about this.

Sugar is so pervasive in processed food that it's NEARLY unavoidable. 

Because of the inescapable sugar content of many foods, the daily ADDED sugar limits of 3-6 tbsp per day are impossible to follow when eating the standard American diet. It's completely unclear what's added vs natural sugar-- and we must raise awareness and concern over the matter before aand most people will care. 

According to Taubes though, sugar is addictive and moderation is unattainable: 

"Any discussion of how little sugar is too much also has to account for the possibility that sugar is a drug and perhaps addictive. Trying to consume sugar in moderation, however it’s defined, in a world in which substantial sugar consumption is the norm and virtually unavoidable, is likely to be no more successful for some of us than trying to smoke cigarettes in moderation – just a few a day, rather than a whole pack. Even if we can avoid any meaningful chronic effects by cutting down, we may not be capable of managing our habits, or managing our habits might become the dominant theme in our lives. Some of us certainly find it easier to consume no sugar than to consume a little – no dessert at all, rather than a spoonful or two before pushing the plate to the side.

If sugar consumption is a slippery slope, then advocating moderation is not a meaningful concept.

Ultimately, the question of how much is too much becomes a personal decision, just as we all decide as adults what level of alcohol, caffeine or cigarettes we’ll ingest. Enough evidence exists for us to consider sugar very likely to be a toxic substance, and to make an informed decision about how best to balance the likely risks with the benefits."

For the whole story, please read Gary Taube's new release "The Case Against Sugar"

For a sample chapter of Taubes' book, you can read it here.

For the Cliffs Notes of the new book, read one of Taubes many recent article discussing the book details here

For more info about the history of the sugar industry placing blame on saturated fats over the last 50 years, read the story here from NPRThe New York Times and Time Magazine.    

What is your opinion of sugar and the prevalence of sugar in our foods? Do you try to avoid sugar for yourself or your family? Please tell us in the comments.

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