Tag Archives: fructose

12 Days of Fitness 2018: Day 7 – The Problem With Added Sugars

(This is part 7 of a 12 part series to provide you with some helpful health and fitness tips over the holiday season)

A 2013 report from Credit Suisse estimated that Americans collectively spend $1 trillion annually to address health issues that are “closely tied to the excess consumption of sugar.” Sugar is sugar or so we’re meant to believe. Truth is there is naturally occurring sugar and there is added sugar. Added sugar is perhaps the single biggest danger in the modern American diet, and steps are being taken to better protect us against it.

What is Added Sugar?

First, it’s best to understand what naturally occurring sugars are. Naturally occurring sugars are the sugars found naturally in many foods. Foods like fruit and dairy products are often high in naturally occurring sugars. However, foods like spinach, brown rice and black beans contain them too but in smaller amounts. Added sugars are defined as any sugars or caloric sweeteners that are added to foods or beverages during processing or preparation. Unlike naturally occurring sugars, which are a product of mother nature, added sugars are added to foods by humans.

Why Is Added Sugar Worse Than Naturally Occurring Sugar?

A medium-size banana contains 14 grams of sugar. A serving of Oreos (three cookies) also contains 14 grams of sugar. Since they both have the same total amount of sugar, does it really matter if one is naturally occurring while the other is added? You better believe it. One reason naturally occurring sugar is less of a concern is because of what’s bundled along with it. When you consume natural foods like fruit or vegetables, you’re not just consuming sugar; you’re getting a bevy of healthful nutrients such as fiber, vitamins and antioxidants. Fiber, particularly soluble fiber, is excellent at slowing down the body’s absorption of sugars. The fiber found in many raw foods is especially effective at this. Fiber slows down digestion, resulting in the sugar being absorbed more slowly. This delayed digestion has numerous benefits. It gives the liver more time to metabolize the sugar, which keeps blood sugar relatively stable. This helps to avoid the rapid rise—and sudden crash—associated with a sugar high. The same cannot be said for added sugar.

“Added sugars contribute additional calories and zero nutrients to food,” the American Heart Association states. “Over the past 30 years, Americans have steadily consumed more and more added sugars in their diets, which has contributed to the obesity epidemic.” Diets high in added sugar have been linked to obesity, Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, tooth decay and even cancer. Foods high in added sugar are typically low in overall nutrients, making them little more than empty calories. The FDA states that “scientific data shows that it is difficult to meet nutrient needs while staying within calorie limits if you consume more than 10 percent of your total daily calories from added sugar.” 10 percent of your daily calories from added sugar sounds like a lot, but it’s frighteningly easy to surpass that total. One gram of sugar contains 4 calories. A 12-ounce can of Coca-Cola contains 39 grams of sugar (virtually all of which are added sugar). That’s 156 calories of added sugar—nearly 8 percent of your total daily calories if you’re on a 2,000 calorie a day diet. In a day and age when the average American consumes a staggering 88 grams of added sugar per day (the AHA recommends a limit of 24 grams per day for women and 36 grams per day for men), food producers are using lots of it to ensure they’re appealing to consumers’ tastes. “Sweetness has an almost universal appeal. So adding sugar to processed foods makes them more appetizing,” the Mayo Clinic states.

Added sugar is often used to create intensely rewarding flavors that have highly addictive potential. A 2013 study discovered that Oreos and drugs such as cocaine and morphine have similar effects on the brains of rats. The study’s authors wrote, “Rats formed an equally strong association between the pleasurable effects of eating Oreos and a specific environment as they did between cocaine or morphine and a specific environment. The researchers also found that eating cookies activated more neurons in the brain’s ‘pleasure center’ than exposure to drugs of abuse. Added sugars are omnipresent in ultra-processed foods, where Americans now get nearly 60% of their calories. It’s not just soda or Skittles, either—a serving of canned tomato sauce can contain 10 grams of added sugar, for example. It has been discovered that manufacturers add sugar to nearly 75% of all packaged foods sold in supermarkets.

How Can You Avoid Added Sugar?

Since added sugars are frequently found in ultra-processed foods, cutting down on those can be a smart way to scale back your added sugar intake. According to the Mayo Clinic, desserts, sodas, energy and sports drinks are the top sources of added sugars for most Americans. But as previously stated before, added sugar can also lurk in some unlikely places. If you come across a product that doesn’t have the new label (supposed to have happened by July of 2018 which lists added sugar to the label), draw your eyes to the ingredients list. It’s not just sugar or high-fructose corn syrup that qualify as added sugar—fancy ingredients like agave nectar and sorghum syrup are added sugar, too. According to the FDA, there are at least 61 different names for sugar used on labels. Knowing what to look out for can be a big help while we wait for the new nutrition labels to go into wide effect.

See you tomorrow for Day 8 of the 12 Days of Fitness

Til next time, train smart, eat well, and be better.

 

Just in case, here’s what you might have missed:

Day #1 – Weight Loss Once and For All
Day #2 – 10 Pieces of Equipment Everyone Needs to Work Out at Home
Day #3 – Are You Afraid of Eating Fruit?
Day #4 – Healthy Foods?
Day #5 – 21 Ways to Combat Emotional Eating
Day #6 – 8 Reasons Why Your Workout is Failing You

 

12 Days of Fitness 2018: Day 3 – Are You Afraid Of Eating Fruit?

(This is part 3 of a 12 part series to provide you with some helpful health and fitness tips over the holiday season)

Let me cut right to the chase with this one. This is one of the most ridiculous things I ever heard. People who won’t eat fruit because it has too much sugar! Really? Ok. Then show me someone who became obese from eating too much fruit?  Better yet, let me save you the time (basically you won’t find anyone) and really get into this fruity dilemma. This crazy idea that fruit is somehow a bad thing to eat came into full swing with the low carb diet craze a few years ago. The terrible thing is that the myth still persists.

Yes, There Is Sugar In in Fruit

I guess the best way to start is to say that sugar isn’t inherently bad for you. Too much of it is, specifically the wrong kind. There is natural sugar (i.e. the sugar in fruit) and there is added sugar (the culprit of all bad things). The body doesn’t differentiate between the natural and added sugars but the sugar in fruit offers so much more than the natural sugar it contains – including water, vitamins, minerals, fiber and phytonutrients (those naturally-occurring plant compounds that have wide ranging beneficial effects on the body). The idea that fruit is “loaded with carbs” or is “full of sugar” needs to be clarified too. It’s true that when you eat fruit, the overwhelming majority of the calories you consume are supplied by carbohydrate – mostly in the form of fructose, which is the natural sugar in fruit. That however is the nature not just of fruit, but of all plant foods – they’re predominantly carbohydrate and that means not just natural sugars, but healthy starches as well as structural elements, like cellulose, that provide fiber. When you eat vegetables, the majority of the calories you’re eating come from carbohydrate, too. But you don’t hear people complaining that vegetables are “loaded with carbs”.

But What About the Carbs?

Before you go assigning foods as being loaded with sugar, or too high in carbs, consider not only the amount of sugar or carbs you’re eating, but the form of the carbohydrate, too. There’s a big difference between the nutritional value of the natural carbohydrates found in fruits and other plant foods: sugars, starches and fibers, and what is in, or not in, the empty calories we eat from added sugars that are literally everywhere.

How The Body Processes Sugar (Carbs)

A very important part to understand is that your body favors carbohydrates as a fuel source. When you eat them, enzymes in your digestive system break them down into their simplest possible form: sugar. Complex carbs, sometimes called starches, have complicated molecules that can take some time to break down. Simple carbs, or sugars, are easy to break down, if they need breaking down at all. Either way, the carbs you eat all become sugars called glucose, at which point they enter your bloodstream. At this point, your pancreas releases the hormone insulin, which does a few things with this blood sugar. The key to avoiding blood sugar spikes is tempering your carb intake with other foods that slow absorption. Fat and protein help to some degree, but the best way to slow absorption is with fiber, which are carbs so complex that your body can’t digest them, so they slow the digestion of the carbs around them, causing the sugar to enter your blood at a slow drip. This is one reason why high-fiber foods are considered a healthier option. They help you avoid blood sugar spikes. Fruit, in general, tends to be fiber-rich, making the sugar content irrelevant.

Can I Eat Too Much Fruit?

Of course, it is possible to take in too much of a good thing. Moderation is the key with any food. There are all kinds of incredibly healthful foods that can be overeaten, from seeds and nuts to salmon and avocados. Point is to always question who and where you get your knowledge. It can be all the difference.

See you tomorrow for Day 4 of the 12 Days of Fitness

Til next time, train smart, eat well, and be better.

 

Just in case, here’s what you might have missed:

Day #1 – Weight Loss Once and For All
Day #2 – 10 Pieces of Equipment Everyone Needs to Work Out at Home

The Fructose Frenzy

imagesWith Halloween just a week or so away, it’s not uncommon to see an overabundance of sweets this time of year, particularly candy. (Although the stores had all their stuff out as early as August but that’s another story.) But whether it’s Halloween or Easter, of all the “bad” foods to eat, sugar is certainly the most recognizable. While even the most conscientious eater will say they don’t eat sugar because they don’t eat candy or don’t indulge in sweets, it’s really hard to totally avoid because it’s everywhere. It has several monikers and forms but ultimately sugar is sugar. None of which is more misunderstood than fructose.

Even Adam Couldn’t Resist

Fructose is the sugar found in fruit. It is nature’s way of essentially alerting us that a food item is safe to eat. Some fruits have a low amount of fructose (i.e. strawberries) while others have higher amounts. (i.e. apples). The point missed when comparing fruits and their fructose content however are all the other nutrients that come along as part of the package, namely the vitamins, minerals, fiber, and water. It also constitutes a very small percentage amount of calories compared to most things we eat. However, when fructose is used as a sweetener minus the vehicle in which it is usually ingested, fructose becomes a problem.

A Toxic Problem

Being a sugar, fructose is absorbed pretty easily in the body but unlike glucose (which gets absorbed almost immediately anywhere in the body), gets sent and absorbed by the liver first to then be broken down further to glucose. It’s a naturally occurring process and effective mechanism when the occasional piece of fruit is eaten throughout the day. The problem is, much of the fructose we enjoy isn’t even fructose or close to it. A term all too common these days is high fructose corn syrup (HFCS). HFCS can be found everywhere and I mean everywhere; even in things you thought contained no sugar such as condiments for example. Why? It’s cheaper and much, much sweeter than glucose, fructose, whatever-tose. While food manufacturers would lead you to believe HFCS is good and healthy for you because it comes from corn and corn after all is healthy it couldn’t be a bigger marketing scam than “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter.” HFCS is made from the process of extracting the sugar from corn (dextrose) and converting it to fructose where it gets its high sweetness properties. The fructose in HFCS isn’t even extracted from fruits; it is purely manufactured. When foods containing HFCS are ingested, the liver is inundated with larger amounts of fructose than it can naturally handle, even if it is was from 20 apples at once. The liver handles this magnificently by converting the “toxin” (fake fructose) into free fatty acids which in turn are converted to triglycerides, much the same way it metabolizes alcohol. The end result? Aside from an increase in adipose tissue (fat), the result is a fatty liver and a multitude of health problems that have their origin from a toxic, poorly functioning liver.

It All Comes Down To Money

So how did something supposedly good for us (fructose) become so awful? Welcome to the world of mass food production where the only goal is how much of a product can be sold at cheaper manufacturing costs and still taste good enough that people can’t stop ingesting them. As previously stated, HFCS is everywhere and in its wake giving fructose itself a bad name. It’s cheaper than real, natural sugar, it has a longer shelf life, and it simply tastes good. It is much easier to eat too much HFCS and less likely to eat too much fructose. Does that mean fructose by itself is inherently bad for you? Absolutely not but just like anything else, you can eat too much of a good thing. The lesson here is to not confuse fructose in its natural form with an unnatural manufactured by product that acts and tastes like fructose. It can save you from committing a huge sin.

 

Til next time, train smart, eat well, and be better.