Thursday, July 19, 2012

America’s Detrimental Addiction: Processed Sugar

Who doesn’t know candy; cupcakes, cookies, ice cream, soda, sugary drinks and other sweet treats were bad for the waistline when over enjoyed?  However, how many of us know just how detrimental and addictive processed sugar can be?  And, do you know where it lurks in our foods, including “healthy” foods?  I just recently became aware of how bad processed sugar is for the human body and all the sneaky places it can be found in our diets…even healthy diets.

You think you are being “healthy” by eating “reduced fat” and “fat free” products.  Well, sadly, any food product that is either “reduced fat” or “fat free” is loaded with sugar to compensate for the lack of fat.  Calories are calories my friends and in order to perform our bodies need some healthy fats so replacing them with sugar is not a good idea.  As a matter of fact, a recent study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found we are consuming more than three times the six- teaspoons –per-day maximum of sugar recommended by the American Heart Association.  All that sugar adds up to about 300-plus calories each day.  To gain or lose one pound of body weight takes 3,600 calories.  This means if you are downing 300 extra calories just in sugar you will gain one pound in 12 days…just over 30 pounds in a year.

Natural sugar, which our bodies processes easily, can be found in fruit and vegetables like beets, corn, and potatoes so before you enjoy your chocolate chip cookie, you’ve probably already consumed all the sugar your body needs.  Don’t cut back on your produce!  Simply be aware of how much processed sugar is in all the pre-packaged foods you eat.  It is hidden in things that don’t even taste sweet such as bread and salad dressing.

Now you are wondering, “What is so toxic about sugar?”  Basically, sugar is made of both fructose and glucose molecules, which are metabolized differently by your body.  When consumed in excess, fructose triggers your liver to convert it to fat, while glucose triggers a blood-sugar spike and the release of insulin, a fat storing hormone, to counter-act the spike.  This means that eating too much sugar may stimulate your appetite rather than satisfy it, leading to craving more food after eating sugar.  How sneaky!!!  The worst of it all is that in addition to sugar’s association with obesity, excess sugar consumption has been linked to serious conditions like insulin resistance, high triglycerides, fatty liver, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes.

Be sure to just say, “no” to sugary drinks as well.  Researchers speculate that the human body didn’t evolve to register liquid calories the same way it does solid food.  By eliminating sugary drinks, you can slash 350 – 500 calories a day from your diet.

Whether you are either trying to lose weight, or stay healthy it’s a good idea to reduce the amount of processed sugar in your diet.  I still have an occasional sweet treat, after all, I’m human, but by taking processed sugar out of my diet I feel lighter, happier and more energized.

Credit:  Women'sHealth, women' "Weight Loss Guide", Summer 2012, Bonus: How Sweet It Isn't

Health Tip:  Super Easy-Gift Quality DIY Sugar Scrub for the Shower

Don’t throw out your processed sugar!  Use it to make an exfoliating treat for your hands, feet and entire body.  This also makes a lovely gift at the holidays in a canning jar with pretty ribbon and a cute label.

Brown Sugar
White sugar
Olive Oil (great antioxidant for your skin)
Lemon juice or any high quality essential oil for scent and extra antioxidant benefits

Using a whisk, mix equal amounts of the brown and white sugar in a bowl.  Slowly pour in enough olive oil to the sugar mixture until crumbly.  Add drops of the essential oil of your choices and whisk thoroughly.  If using lemon juice, add about one tablespoon and a bit more oil until creamy.  Place contents in canning jar and decorate, as you like.  Voila!  Summertime, wintertime, anytime skin treat without the calories.

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