Wellness Wednesday – 3/31/21
Easter Sunday is this Sunday, and just like any other holiday, it has made me consider the number of sweets we consume. Holidays often provide an excuse to eat unhealthily, which is great because it’s important to not to be too hard on ourselves. However, loading up on sugar, even for one day, is something you should avoid. Everything in moderation, even on the holidays.
So this week, and the past year, I’ve been thinking a lot about sugar. In some forms, sugar can be good for you, but in most ways that go unnoticed, sugar is pretty bad for you. We need to pay attention to this because added sugar is in almost everything we eat. This week, we’re digging up some facts about this ingredient, how it affects our bodies and ways that we can cut it out.
Natural vs. Artificial
Consumption of sugar can be a very controversial topic. One of the most popular things I hear is that fruit, which is an essential component of a healthy diet, contains sugar. So if the banana I eat every morning contains sugar, why is it so bad? What you need to pay attention to is added sugar, which is made by processing sugar cane and sugar beets. While some companies—like The Sugar Association—might mislead you to say that these sugars are “natural” as they come from a “sugarcane” plant, be aware of green marketing. In fact, the term natural sugar is virtually useless because, according to this article from Self, “you could argue that virtually all sugars are ‘natural’ in some sense, given that they’re derived from something once found in nature. Even powdered sugar, for example, has just been refined from the sugarcane plant. So the term ‘natural sugar’ sounds nice but doesn’t mean much.”
When it comes to added sugar, it is removed from these plants, refined, and then sold as a product that can be added to our favorite foods to enhance flavor and texture, and it is that removal that results in the dangerous added sugar found in almost everything we eat today.
According to healthdesigns.net, when you consume this added sugar, “the body breaks down refined sugar rapidly, which causes insulin and blood sugar levels to skyrocket.” On the other hand, when you are consuming fruit, fiber is a major beneficial factor. When you eat a whole fruit, such as an apple, the sugars inside it “are digested slower and help you feel full for longer. It also helps keep your metabolism stable.” However, some companies who make fruit products, such as juice, mislead consumers by claiming that their product contains “natural” sugars. Yes, apple juice contains apples, but to enjoy the apple’s true nutritional value without a sugar rush, eat the apple.
Check out the comparison made in this article from Harvard University:
“Since one medium-sized orange has about 10-13 grams of sugar, the 16 oz. orange juice contains four oranges’ worth of sugar. If you were eating the actual fruit, you probably wouldn’t consume anywhere close to this amount of sugar. Whole fruit contains fiber, which fills you up and keeps you from overeating. The cellular structure of fruit is also important – since your body has to break down the cells of the orange before the sugar can be released, the sugar is absorbed into the blood more slowly. Eating fruit raises your blood sugar levels, but in a slow and controlled manner, promoting fullness and preventing overconsumption.”
The Dangers of Sugar and How to Avoid Them
What happens when many of the snacks we love today are packed with added sugar? Research has found that too much added sugar can result in obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, tooth decay and a fatty liver, accelerated aging, and more. For more reliable facts on the damage that sugar can to do your body, check out this article from Harvard Medical School.
Now, I’m sure I have you thinking, how do I cut sugars out? I’ll warn you, it’s difficult. Personally, I’d start by checking the labels of the items in your pantry to simply observe how much added sugar you may be consuming. Yes, it might shock or surprise you, but that’s why we’re here. First, check out this article, which provides an honest take on sugar detoxes, sugar cravings, and how you can’t—and shouldn’t—cut out sugar from your diet entirely (remember, we just talked about fruit!)
Here are some helpful sources from around the web that I have found that will help you get started on reducing sugar in your diet.
As I’ve mentioned before, everything in moderation. Don’t let me ruin your easter; I know I will be enjoying a Reeses’ Egg or two. Consuming some sugar is won’t kill you, but the goal here is to be mindful of how what we’re eating affects our bodies so we can make educated decisions for our wellbeing. So next time you reach for the apple juice, consider the apple instead.
GOOD LISTENS & WATCHES
So I might be advising you to not consume sugar, but listening to it is pretty harmless! Check out some of my favorite songs with “sugar” in the title that are certain to boost your mood — sugar rush not included.
“Watermelon Sugar” – by Harry Styles
“Pour Some Sugar on Me” – by Def Leppard
“Sugar Sugar” – by The Archies
“Sugar” – by Maroon 5
“Suga Suga” – by Baby Bash
For those looking for an interesting look at sugar consumption in the U.S, check out the 2014 documentary “Fed Up” which appears to be free on YouTube. The documentary analyzes the government’s role in the skyrocketing sugar consumption over the past few decades.