Why is it so addictive to drink your calories, and why is liquid sugar so terrible for the human body?
Liquid sugar is toxic for your body for many reasons. First, it stimulates your hunger and has zero nutrient value. It also makes your body prone to store excess fat and increases insulin resistance, leaving you more susceptible to type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
The importance of monitoring our liquid sugar intake is not a new concept. Way back in 1942, the American Medical Association made a strong recommendation to limit intake of added sugar and specifically mentioned soft drinks.
In 2015, the US Department of Health stated that most Americans’ added sugar comes from “sweet snacks,” and still standing strong at No. 2 on this list is soft drinks. In 73 years, we are still not taking the harmful effects of added sugar from soft drinks (aka liquid sugar) serious enough.
Liquid sugar is an age-old American addiction. The amount of “added sugar” you are eating or drinking daily strongly impacts your average blood sugar for the past three months (also known as your Hemoglobin A1C). Hemoglobin A1C is a finger-prick test that you can get at your medical doctor’s office. This test determines if you are prediabetic or diabetic.
The amazing thing is that if you are prediabetic and are willing to make lifestyle changes (yeah, yeah, yeah – you’ve heard this all before) you can lower your A1C into normal range without medication. However, if you are not willing to make lifestyle changes, medication may be needed, as high blood sugar is like a sledgehammer banging on your arteries all day and night. It’s not a good thing.
So how does soda, sweetened coffee, sweetened tea and anything else that contains sugar contribute to all these harmful problems? The speed at which liquid sugar runs through your digestive system in combination with the glucose and fructose components of sugar cause inflammation in your liver and throughout your body. Inflammation is the underlying cause of many unpleasant and painful symptoms and diseases. Another downside of liquid calories is that they tend to boost your cravings, so you end up with more calories than you need and pack on unnecessary weight.
How much added sugar can you have per day? The American Heart Association recommends no more than 6 teaspoons, which equals 25 grams or 100 calories, for women. Men should have no more than 9 teaspoons, which equals 36 grams or 150 calories. That’s not much!
To put this in perspective, a 20-ounce bottle of soda usually has 16 teaspoons of sugar, a 20-ounce lemon-flavored iced tea has about 14.5 tablespoons of sugar, and a 20-ounce sports drink has around 7.5 teaspoons of sugar.
Monitoring your added sugar is an important step toward a healthier you in 2018 and can have a profound impact on your health.
Fran Sutherlin is a local registered dietitian, health coach, speaker and owner of Sustainable Nutrition in Bayfield. She can be reached at 444-2122 or firstname.lastname@example.org.