Thursday, October 4, 2012

Sickening Sweet

The average American consumes 150 to 170 pounds of sugar annually, and many sodas, energy drinks, and coffees add to our sugar overload.

There’s no way to sugarcoat the unhealthy sugary mess we've gotten ourselves into. For example, in the year 1700, the average person consumed 7 ½ pounds of sugar, but today a typical American consumes an astonishing 150 to 170 pounds of sugar each year—and about half of that comes from high fructose corn syrup (HFCS).

Simply put, sugar overload is toxic and carries devastating health effects.  It can mess up the body, including weight; cellular, immune, cardiovascular, gastrointestinal, mental, emotional, neurological and metabolic health; mouth and teeth; bones; veins; and blood sugar and blood pressure health. Additionally, the skin and internal organs, such as the heart, liver and kidneys, are adversely affected.

Even the American Heart Association says that our hearts just can’t take sugar overload, so they've advised everyone to cut their sugar intake by 70 percent. We don’t have immune capacity for this much sugar, either. Ingesting 100 grams of sugar (about 8 tablespoons) reduces our white blood cells’ ability to kill germs by 40 percent, an effect that starts less than 30 minutes after ingestion and lasts up to five hours.

Sugar is found in many forms, too, but high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) can be the most health-threatening of all. It ages cells faster than sucrose does; contributes to cancer cell proliferation; damages the brain and slows learning; robs the body of vitamins, minerals and enzymes; increases risk for heart disease; impairs the pancreas from releasing insulin normally; contributes to fatty liver; raises serum triglyceride levels and blood pressure levels; and converts to fat faster and more than any other sugar.

Sugar’s everywhere, too—including soda, which has up to 17 teaspoons of sugar (mostly HFCS) per can, and provides more added sugar to a 2-year-old’s diet than cookies, candies and ice cream combined. Likewise, an average teenage boy drinks at least three cans of soda each day, while the average American drinks an estimated 56 gallons of soft drinks, including sodas, each year.

In fact, click here to see how much sugar is in common sodas and soft drinks. It’s nothing short of mind-boggling.

While you’re at it, check this out. This slideshow tells what popular energy drinks’ sugar levels are equivalent to in terms of donuts, cookies, candy bars and more. Unbelievable!

Then there’s coffee. In this segment “Eat This, Not That:  Is Your Coffee Making You Fat?” you’ll see how much sugar is in some common coffees. While I don’t agree with his take on what to drink instead, I do concur that the sugar amount is way over the top and that we need to get a handle on our sugar intake.

The good news is that, instead of these sugary beverages, you can get delicious, healthy alternatives—sodas, teas and coffees with good-for-you, nutritious ingredients. Give them a try, and get rid of those sickening sweet drinks that are harming your health.