Most Americans, don’t realize how much sugar they are eating. The average U.S. citizen eats over 147 pounds of sugar each year. This translates into a whopping 46 teaspoons per day, which is nearly 70 percent more sugar than their grandparents ate back in 1909. Despite all the emphasis on healthier living and healthier eating, since 1970 the average yearly sugar consumption has continued to increase by 25 pounds. Sugary fruit drinks, sodas, colas, and juices are among the worst offenders.
Excessive consumption of corn syrup (especially high-fructose corn syrup) and sugar (especially refined sugars) leads to many health problems such as diabetes and obesity. Sugar is also linked to some cancers, including cancers of the colon, breast, ovaries, uterus, prostate, kidney, and nervous system. Refined sugar also weakens white blood cells’ ability to destroy bacteria, increasing the risk of colds, flu, and other similar illnesses, and makes it more difficult to fight off present illnesses and diseases.
Sugar also has undesirable effects on the brain. Every-day-foods that are commonly eaten can contribute to either enhancing or diminishing frontal lobe activity. Other parts of the body can use fat, protein, or carbohydrates for energy, but the brain does not. It uses glucose, a simple carbohydrate, almost exclusively as its source of energy. Years ago, when scientists first discovered that the brain functioned best with carbohydrate fuel, some people began referring to candy bars as “brain food.” But it has been discovered that sugar is just the opposite. Foods high in sugar actually slow down mental performance. It has also been demonstrated that children eating a diet high in sugar have impaired frontal lobe functions, which can diminish their performance in school and at home. This same effect also occurs in teenagers and adults.
Sugar may be eaten in an effort to raise the blood sugar levels. When sugar is eaten, the blood sugar levels spike, but then rapidly plunge. It is not unusual that blood sugar levels may be even lower than they were before the sugar was taken. This causes the frontal lobe functions to suffer, due to insufficient fuel supplies. The individual thus effected may then feel a “need” for another sugary treat. If those cravings are heeded, a vicious cycle can result, and thus many people may develop an addiction to sugar.
An individual who wants to give up sugar may switch to artificial sweeteners, but these chemicals increase hunger, which can lead to overeating which results in weight gain. If it is too hard to immediately discard all refined sugars, the best policy is to limit sweets to special occasions, or as an infrequent treat. Complex carbohydrates are a better choice for the brain and body. For energy, instead of reaching for a sugary juice or cereal, try eating complex carbohydrates, such as oatmeal sweetened with dates or fresh strawberries for breakfast. Complex carbohydrates also help to improve blood sugars, and contain fiber, which has many other health benefits. If you have a sweet tooth, try reaching for some fruit, such as a ripe banana instead of a candy bar. If you make this a habit, you may find your desire for sugary, processed foods weakening, and your desire for healthful foods increasing.
Sources: The Lost Art of Thinking; Proof Positive