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Sugar: The Basics

If you don't believe that sugar creeps into just about every food we eat, let's visit the neighborhood grocery store. You're trying hard to eat healthy.  You're determined your family will too!  So you're cruising the grocery aisles shopping 

with the glint of resolve in your eye.  You toss a sugar-free pudding mix into your cart.  Then you see those granola bars in your grocery cart, because they have to be healthier than those candy bars your kids eat.

 

You check out and take the food home – feeling pretty smug that you're doing your part to change your eating habits.  But, even with this healthy diligence, you and your children are still big consumers of sugar – in far greater quantities than you might think. What to see exactly what we mean?

 

Let's first look at the sugar-free pudding.  With only 90 calories for a half-cup serving compared with the 150 for the type with sugar, it's looking pretty good so far.  But let's dig a little deeper here.  No matter what the label may tell you, there is still a type of sugar in this product.  It's called lactose.  It's a natural sugar found in milk products.

 

Now let's get technical.  Lactose is really a large molecule which is made of two smaller sugar molecules – glucose and galactose – linked together. Hmm.  Perhaps it's not "as sugar free" as you thought.

 

Our next step is to look at those granola bars you bought.  Go ahead and read the label.  Does it sound anything like this?  Sugar, rolled oats, dextrose, wheat flakes, rice dried lemon, soybeans, fructose, corn syrup, partially hydrogenated peanut and soybean oil, non-fat milk, almonds, malt, sorbital and flavoring.

 

Whew!  What a mouth full.  But more than that, let's really examine some of these ingredients.  Food manufacturers are getting ever cleverer, because as consumers we're growing increasingly savvy.  This is just one more example of this.

 

First, the closer the ingredient is listed at the top of the list, the greater the amount of the ingredient is in the product.  Sugar is the first ingredient.  So there is more sugar than anything else.  Not boding too well for healthy, is it? 

 

But wait, because that's not the only sugar in the granola bar.  How many types can you find?  Here's what we see:  Sugar (of course) dextrose, fructose, corn syrup and sorbitol. 

 

Yes, fully one-third of the 15 ingredients in this granola bar – five individual types in all – is sugar in some form or other.  Now does it sound like a good snack?

 

Sugar.  We all know that it's a major contributing factor to the growing worldwide obesity epidemic.  It's also plays a large role in the development of diabetes.  With even so-called healthy foods containing labels like this, it's no wonder that sugar in this county is skyrocketing.  You literally can consume sugar with nearly every meal and not even touch a sugar bowl!  It's already in the processed foods and snacks we eat – even in those foods marked sugar free and so-called healthy!

 

Sugar: An Overview

 

Today's average American consumer ingests 2 to 3 pounds of sugar a week!  We say "ingest" because in many of the cases, we're not even aware we're "eating" sugar.  This is a dramatic increase even in the last two decades.  In the 1980s,  we, as a nation consumed some 26 pounds to 135 pounds per person in a year!  Now compare this to the late nineteenth century – specifically the years from 1887 to 1890 – when the average American ate only five pounds of sugar in an entire year! It comes as no surprise then that cancer and heart disease were virtually unknown back then!

 

Additionally, too much sugar increases our risk of developing diabetes as well as a host of other health problems not normally associated with sugar consumption.  Eating too much sugar suppresses your immune system, which then makes you more susceptible to colds and other illnesses. An excess of sugar consumption has also been associated with an increase in the development of cancer.

 

But its hazards don't end there.  Excess consumption of sugar has also been linked with making existing asthma conditions worse, increasing the severity of arthritic conditions, as well as exacerbating mood swings, even prompting personality changes.

 

And if those aren't enough reasons to make you stop in your tracks when you see any form of sugar, here are a few more.  Sugar has been associated with an increased cholesterol level and that can lead to a heart attack.

 

Then there are the "hidden" problems you'll discover when you eat too much sugar, like finding it hard to sleep at night.  When you eat much sugar –even inadvertently – your heart rate increases and your body finds it extremely difficult to relax.  Even your mind refuses to slow down.  Think about the last time you had trouble sleeping, finding it hard to turn your mind off. Could an over consumption of sugar have been the cause?

 

Perhaps you've noticed that you've been retaining a bit more water than usual.  It could very well be because of your sugar consumption.  Those last five or ten pounds you can't lose on your diet may be due to the ubiquitous sugar in our society.

 

Ever get into one of those mental funks when you just can't think clearly?  Recent research has confirmed that sugar actually interferes with brain wave function, making it more difficult to concentrate at long stretches at a time. The consumption of sugar also makes it harder to learn as well.  Many times, sugary snacks and soda drinks are the reasons why some children struggle in school.

 

As a nation, our sugar consumption is growing by leaps and bounds.  The sad – and frightening – aspect is that for the most part we are not aware of all the ways that sugar "creeps" into our diets.  Even when we make an honest attempt at limiting the amount of sugar we consume, we're receiving this potential poison from the most unlikely of foods.  Our lifestyle and the level of processed foods we eat make it difficult for us to completely drop the sugar habit.

 

 

 



Note: Some statements in this article may not be approved by the FDA. This article is for informational purposes only and should not be taken as professional medical advice.

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Inside Mother

Home
Subscribe!
What's New?

Mother's Tea
Guest Article
Homebirth
Editorial
Best Articles
Breastfeeding
Dear Mother Dear
Reader Letters
Eternally Pregnant
Circumcision
 

Site Features

Book Reviews
Mother Books
Cartoons!
Poems
Links
Birth Stories
Site Map
Advertising

Contact Us


Birth, Joy, & Raspberry Leaves
-a new video compiled by Catherine and Amanda Young
of The Compleat Mother

Go HERE for more information on the waterbirth video!


Click here to read: The Farmer and the Obstetrician

Click here for the Home Sweet Homebirth (Video)

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$20 for two years

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Greg Cryns
The Compleat Mother Magazine
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Phone: (815) 678-7531