Sugar has been on mind- a lot these days.

Seeing as today is Halloween, and my niños are being bombarded with sugar, I decided it was time to write this post.

I’m not writing to demonize sugar, but rather educate on healthy sugar intake!

First off, our bodies NEED glucose (or, sugar!)-it is the primary fuel source for all living things.  Our bodies can synthesize it, but it is much easier to obtain it through our diet.

You may not realize this, but the brain is a major consumer of glucose.  In fact, the brain uses 30% of the available pool of glucose.  Whenever you have that feeling that blood sugar is dropping, it’s because your brain is running out of glucose!  Your brain needs a steady stream of glucose-some people need food every 2 hours, some every 6-8.  Each person’s body is different.

So, where should you get the sugar/glucose your body needs?  FROM COMPLEX CARBOHYDRATES!  Complex carbohydrates take longer for your body to break down than simple ones, which helps to maintain a steady blood sugar level.

Where can you find complex carbs?  Legumes, unrefined WHOLE grains, fruits and vegetables.  These can fill your need for sugar quite nicely.

What you DO NOT want to do is constantly consume simple sugars to keep your body and brain going!

What are simple sugars?  Simple sugars are carbohydrates that are QUICKLY absorbed by the body to produce energy.  They are broken down quickly, producing a rapid increase in blood sugar levels.

Simple sugars are found in candy, cakes, SODA, sugary cereals, sugary yogurt, “fruit” drinks (think kool-aid), condiments (think ketchup, salad dressings, etc), and processed food in general.  Loading up on simple sugars is not doing yourself any favors, folks!

By this point, you are probably thinking, “I don’t eat THAT much sugar!”

Well, have you read the labels on what you eat lately?  Because sugar is in JUST ABOUT EVERYTHING.

Other names the food industry uses for sugar…..

  • barley malt
  • beet sugar
  • brown sugar
  • cane-juice crystals
  • cane sugar
  • caramel
  • carob syrup
  • corn syrup
  • corn syrup solids
  • date sugar
  • dextran
  • dextrose
  • diatase
  • diastatic malt
  • ethyl maltol
  • fructose
  • glucose
  • glucose solids
  • grape sugar
  • high-fructose corn syrup
  • lactose
  • malt syrup
  • maltodextrin
  • maltose
  • molasses
  • raw sugar
  • refiner’s syrup
  • sorbitol
  • sorghum syrup
  • sucrose
  • sugar
  • turbinado sugar

That’s not an exhaustive list!  There are other names.  Point is, if you want to watch your sugar intake, you have to be pretty vigilant about reading labels.

Now that you know WHY your body needs sugar, let’s talk about JUST HOW MUCH your body needs

The American Heart Association recommends that women consume no more that about 6 teaspoons of sugar per day.  For men, it is about 9 teaspoons.

What does the AVERAGE American consume per day?  Oh, that would be over 22 teaspoons of added sugar per day!  Most of which comes from sweet beverages.

I found some pretty disturbing statistics about our sugar consumption….in 1822, we ate the amount of added sugar in one 12 ounce can of soda every five days, while today we eat that much sugar every seven hours.

So, what are the effects of our constant sugar binging?

Degenerative diseases that were practically nonexistent 200 years ago, are now common place.  In fact, did you know that cardiovascular disease (now the most common type of heart disease!) was so rare at the early part of last century, that it wasn’t even studied until 1912?

So what has changed so dramatically between then and now to bring on devastating conditions like cardiovascular disease?  The industrialization of the food industry, and all that entails.  A huge spike in sugar consumption, processed and refined foods.

We have changed our food from being real food, to being chemically changed, altered and processed so that it doesn’t even resemble the kind of food you can grow in a garden.

To end,

Control your sugar intake.  Eat real food.

For more info on refined sugar alternatives, read here!