On average, Americans consume more than a 150 pounds of some kind of sweetener a year—that’s equivalent to about 30 bags of sugar—or 52 teaspoons of added sugar per day. Too much sugar consumption can lead to heart disease, weight gain, diabetes, premature wrinkling of the skin, reduced brain function, cancer, and depression.
So sugar is bad, right?
If “sugar is sugar” then the answer would be yes, but when it comes to nutrition and how different kinds of sugars are processed, the effect they have on the body are not the same!
The movement to read nutrition labels and avoid as many sugar grams as possible, not only leads to a lack of nutrition found in foods such as fruits and vegetables, the blanket judgement of all sugars as bad has led to a growing consumption of artificial sweeteners that can cause weight gain, poor brain function, cancer, and more.
The Good in Sugars from Fruits and Vegetables
Decades old studies have shown the naturally occurring sugars in fruits and vegetable are good for the body and don’t cause excess weight gain. The indigenous culture of the Kuna from the Panama region remain lean while consuming a good portion of their diet from fruit.
The fiber and water found in fruits and vegetables help to make a person feel full, which can decrease the likelihood of eating too many calories. Foods with added sugar contain a lot of calories in a small amount of food, which can cause an overload of calories before your stomach feels satisfied. Typically, most fruits and vegetables have far less sugars by volume that added-sugar sweetened foods—a half cup of berries contains approximately 3-4 grams of sugar, as opposed to a half cup of ice cream that has 15 grams or more. Eat more fruits and vegetables and intake less sugar!
The fiber in fruit also slows down the digestion of glucose decreasing the insulin spike and the crash that follows when you eat other sweet treats like cookies, candies, and ice cream. This slower digestion of glucose also allows the body more time to use up glucose as fuel before storing it as fat.
Reduced Risk of Diabetes and Other Health Issues
Studies have shown that eating fruit as part of a whole food diet may actually decrease the risk of obesity and diabetes. Other studies have shown that eating fruit reduces oxidative stress markers that indicate an imbalance in the bodies ability to counteract cancer-causing free radicals, due to a lack of antioxidants that help detoxify the body.
Protect and Fuel the Body
Fruit offers vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that are not present in cane sugars, corn syrup, and artificial sweeteners. Proper nutrition provides energy and helps the body fight off cancer cells, autoimmune diseases, and other health issues.
Wild Zora Sweetness!
The sugar grams in the entire line of Wild Zora snacks and meals comes from fruits and vegetables that provide energy without the negative side effects of refined sugars or artificial sweeteners, while also providing a nutritional boost.
Some of the Negative Impact of Refined Sugars
Vitamin and Mineral Depletion
Eating foods high in refined sugars will deplete the body of calcium, magnesium, and B-vitamins. Refined sugars use the body’s stored B-vitamins, calcium, and magnesium for their digestion. The body needs magnesium and calcium to help prevent osteoporosis and arthritis, and it needs B-vitamins for a healthy nervous system in order to prevent fatigue, anxiety, and depression.
Insulin is one of the hormones that help to regulate the metabolism—it tells our fat cells to pick up fat from the bloodstream, store it, and stop burning the fat that they already carry. When insulin levels are consistently high, excess fat is stored in our cells.
Excess refined sugar consumption leads to chronic elevated insulin levels—we can actually break the mechanism that regulates our insulin levels. When this happens, not only is Type 2 diabetes a result, the body looses it’s ability to use the stored fat and the brain sends the hunger message, which leads to eating more than we need to be properly fueled.
The loss of collagen and elastin eventually lead to wrinkly skin. Researchers have found that excessive added refined sugar intake may damage collagen and elastin, the two proteins in the body that provide structure and support to help skin stay smooth and tight.
Diabetes and Hypoglycemia
Diabetes is caused by a pancreas that is not producing enough insulin. Dr. David Reuben, author of “Everything You Always Wanted To Know About Nutrition” writes that Type 2 diabetes is directly related to the over-consumption of refined sugar.
Insulin is produced in the pancreas to control blood-sugar levels. Insulin transports glucose to your cells for energy and the excess goes to your liver for storage. Eating excess refined sugar causes the pancreas to overproduce insulin, leading to hypoglycemia, and resulting in too much sugar being removed from the blood. According to the author of ‘The Genesis Diet,’ Dr. Gordon Tessler, hypoglycemia taxes the liver, pancreas, and adrenal glands as they try to balance sugar levels, leading to organ failure and adrenal fatigue.
Artificial Sweeteners Can Actually Make You Gain Weight
In order to reduce calorie and sugar gram intake, some consumers are opting for artificial sweeteners. The choice replaces one health issue with another, including negative brain change, increased risks of cancers, and weight gain.
Despite offering zero-calorie counts, studies show that artificial sweeteners interfere with the metabolism and ultimately lead to weight gain and trouble losing weight. In fact, they may actually contribute to weight gain. One study has suggested that this may be in part to how the chemicals in artificial sweeteners reduce the friendly bacteria in the gut, triggering glucose intolerance.
The University of Texas Healthy Science Center School of Medicine conducted a study that found diet soda drinkers had a 500 percent greater waist circumference in a ten year period than non-diet soda drinkers. And a 2008 study found rats given artificially sweetened yogurt gained more weight than the group fed the more caloric glucose-sweetened yogurt.
Sugars Are Not All Equal!
The next time you’re tempted to judge a sugar gram by it’s number, consider how your body will react to the particular kind of sugar it represents. Sugar from fruits and vegetables offer nutrition and energy with no harmful side effects, so you might want to put down that snack with refined sugar or artificial sweeteners and eat your fruits and veggies!