For something so sweet, sugar really can be quite awful. That’s because if you’re consuming more than 21 percent of your daily calories from added sugars, you double your risk of death from heart disease compared to people who consume just 10 percent of their calories from added sugars.
That’s according to a 2023 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association Internal Medicine. The researchers also found that if you consume slightly less added sugar, you’re still at a higher risk of death. Those who consumed 17 to 21 percent of their daily calories from added sugars increased their risk of death from heart disease by 38 percent.
But the key word there is “added.” Sugars that are considered “added” aren’t just a sprinkle of granulated sweetness in your morning coffee, but high-fructose corn syrup, sugars in cakes, cookies and sodas, and other processed foods. This added sugar can cause blood sugar spikes, weight gain and can leave you feeling hungry. Natural sugar—the kind found in whole fruits and milk—is different.
Courtney McCormick, Corporate Dietitian at Nutrisystem, answers your most pressing questions about added and natural sugars below and gives some advice on how to avoid added sugars and incorporate natural sugars into your diet.
Sugar, in every kitchen and corner store, hasn’t always been so accessible. Before we were trying to avoid it from our diets, physicians were actually dreaming up medical applications by the numbers. A few of the more interesting uses:
For ailments of the eye:
“Take two drams of fine sugar-candy, one-half dram pearl, one grain of leaf gold; made into a very fine and impalpable powder, and when dry, blow a convenient quantity into the eye.”
From Experiments and Observations Upon Oriental and Other Bezoar-stones, etc. etc… A Vindication of Sugars Against the Charge of Dr. Willis, Other Physicians, and Common Prejudices, by Dr. Frederick Slare (1715)From The London Practice of Physic, for the Use of Physicians and Younger Practitioners (1769 edition)
“Take two or three lumps of treble refined sugar, the white of a new-laid egg; beat them well up together into a fine froth; mix it with a gill-glass full of the Tilbury-water, and half a gill of fresh cows-milk made warm. Drink this twice or thrice a day”
From Discourses on Tea, Sugar, Milk, Made-Wines, Spirits, Punch, Tobacco, &c: With Plain and Useful Rules for Gouty People, by Thomas Short (1750)
“To cure Spitting of Blood, if a Vein is broken”:
“Take mice-dung beaten to powder, as much as will lie on a six-pence; and put it in a quarter of a pint of the juice of plantane, with a little sugar: Give it in the morning fasting, and at night going to bed. Continue this some time, and it will make whole, and cure”
“Stuffing in the Lungs”:
“Take white sugar-candy powder’d and sifted two ounces, China roots powder’d and sifted one ounce; flour of brimstone one ounce. Mix these with conserve of roses, or the pap of an apple; and take the bigness of a walnut in the morning, fasting an hour after it; and the last at night, an hour after you have eaten or drank”
From The Gentlewoman’s Companion, by Hannah Woolley (1670)
A dressing for a bad wound:
“Step 1: Clean the wound well using soap and warm water. Pat dry until you’re sure there is no moisture left. If debris or foreign objects are observed within the wound, extract everything and clean again. Step 2: Pour sugar directly on the wound, making sure it gets into the wound and doesn’t stick only to the surface. If the wound is large, cover it with honey first and then sprinkle sugar on top. The honey will help the sugar stay in place and provide its full healing benefits. Step 3: Cover with a bandage immediately and secure the bandage with tape. The bandage will prevent bacteria and debris from getting into the wound. Step 4: Change the bandage and repeat the cleaning and sugar application once a day. Rip off the bandage rather than pulling it softly. The hard motion will remove dead tissue and clear the wound. Step 5: Be consistent. Sugar healing is a slow process, and it can take several months for serious wounds to heal. However, you should start seeing positive results right away, as the sugar will reduce pain and throbbing in the wound and the surrounding tissues.”
Here in the new year, millions of Americans will try to cut back on sugar or drop it altogether. It’s a noble effort because sugar is devoid of nutrients, except for calories, which it has in spades.
Quick fact: The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) reports each of us consumes 31 five-pound bags of sugar a year. That’s 267,840 empty calories from sugar alone. Still, people will be jonesing for something sweet to eat. Enter: monk fruit.
Traditionally, people used zero-calorie sweeteners to satisfy their sugar cravings at no caloric cost. Synthetic sugar substitutes, including aspartame (Equal, NutraSweet), sucralose (Splenda) and others, are added at the table but are mostly taken as carbonated diet drinks and low calorie foods. But consumption of those foods has taken a nosedive as of late as health conscious consumers flock to natural sweeteners. Stevia, the zero-calorie herb extract, is gaining appeal, but monk fruit is the real one to watch. (more…)
As a nation, we clamor for the latest news on the latest celebrity baby bumps and shocking plastic surgeries. So when a Hollywood icon loses a lot of weight, you can bet every anchor on InsideTMZAccessEdition will be covering it. And yeah, we are, too. So why isn’t anyone talking about Kevin Smith? Well, we are!
The talented producer, writer, actor and self-described “goofy spaz” recently lost 20+ pounds, but unlike shaving his trademark beard and mustache (pictured below) it wasn’t for a movie. During a radio interview with the Todd-N-Tyler Radio Empire, the cult-classic filmmaker talked about his weight loss.
“I watched this documentary called Fed Up and it scared me,” he said. “It was the scariest thing I’ve seen on film. It broke down the process of storing sugar in the body in a way that I had never understood previously.”
By Janis Jibrin, M.S., R.D., Best Life lead nutritionist
As I got the butter out from my fridge the other day, a friend of mine commented in surprise, “You eat butter?”.
She’s right to question. For years, there was no butter in my kitchen because it contains a lot of saturated fat, which nutrition scientists believed could lead to heart disease and possibly increase the risk for cancer and even dementia. But being a nutritionist, I keep up with the food research, and things change. I started thinking of how my diet has changed over the past decade, and here are the main shifts; the ways I changed my own diet for the better.
I ENJOY BUTTER. Even after margarine was exposed as a trans fat nightmare, I still avoided butter because 63 percent of the fat in butter is saturated. I went along with the scientific thinking: If you eat too much saturated fat, levels of LDL (“bad” cholesterol) rise, and people with higher LDL are more likely to develop heart disease. (more…)
There is a new documentary in the works, and it has certainly captured my attention. Executive produced by Katie Couric and directed by Stephanie Soechtig, the film “Fed Up” explores the American obesity epidemic, specifically focusing on sugar. However, the film differentiates itself from other books, movies, television specials that focus on sugar in one big way: In addition to railing on sugar as the cause of obesity, “Fed Up” focuses on the fact that skinny is not a sign of healthy.
It’s about time.
I’m so glad that we are finally having a conversation around the fact that someone can thin but still have as much internal body fat as a morbidly obese person. In recent years, emerging research has shown that just because a person is skinny it does not mean that they are healthy. People of average weight can suffer from type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and other conditions once thought to be associated with only obese individuals. Weight may not be the driver behind this, but body fat that comes from foods loaded with sugar most certainly is, according to “Fed Up”.
The film attacks sugar pretty seriously, even referring to it as the “new tobacco,” and blaming the food industry and the government as the biggest pushers of the substance. Fed Up focuses on the importance of not blaming children for the fact that they are obese, but rather the marketing that has pushed our country into a sugar induced epidemic. (more…)
You know the phrase, “Don’t judge a book by its cover”? Well, I definitely judged “I Quit Sugar: Your Complete 8-Week Detox Program and Cookbook” but its cover, or at least its title. Give up sugar? For 8 weeks? Eek! That sounds like a lot of work and not a lot of good (or at least tasty) eating. But even the World Health Organizationhas joined the sugar reduction trend so when Crown Publishing sent me a copy I tried to keep an open mind.
The book, written by Australian television personality Sarah Wilson, is a guide to slowly giving up sugar, welcoming in fat, and finding a place of balance in your body. Over 8 weeks you start to cut back on sugar then quit it all together, spend a couple of weeks without any sweetness to help reset your tastebuds and your cravings, then slowly add in a little natural sweetness as you’d like. The idea is that a little natural sugar (such as those found in fruitsand brown rice syrup) goes a long ways, so long as you break your body’s processed sugar habit.
I read through the book and it sounded plausible, if not actually appealing. But when I got to the recipe section—108 healthy, inspiring meals, snacks, and desserts—I was convinced that “I Quit Sugar” deserved a place on my bookshelf. The recipes are absolutely divine. So far I’ve made two soups—a warm one with sweet potato, lentils, onion, and a blend of spices and a cool one with avocado, cucumbers, scallions, and cilantro. And I have the ingredients for a few more: fluffy squash and chia muffins, cashews chia pudding, and coconut curry meatballs, to name a few. These aren’t necessarily items I would expect to have sugar in them, but it is a good reminder that by focusing on eating good stuff I might naturally start to eat less sugar, which is a concept that’s a lot easier to digest then simply going cold-turkey on sweets. (more…)
We know sugar intake is linked to obesity and obesity-related diseases and that reducing sugar intake can have positive effects on overall health. Today, the World Health Organization (WHO) made a decision that shows it agrees wholeheartedly, advising people to halve the amount of sugar in their diet, from a recommended 10-percent to five-percent.
This dramatic shift is the first change in recommendation since 2002. “It is a tragedy that it has taken 10 years for the WHO to think about changing their recommendation on sugar,” nutritionist and campaigner Katharine Jenner told BBC News. We totally agree.
Though the change has taken a while, it’s sure to make some waves now that it’s arrived. Here’s what you can expect: (more…)
Around the holidays I found myself suffering from a cold. Since going gluten-free and dairy-free, it’s an anomaly for me to need an anti-histamine or decongestant. Knowing how sugar impacts the immune system, I assumed one of the culprits must be the holiday sweets I was consuming, even though it was in moderation. When I received the book the 21 Day Sugar Detox by Diane Sanfilippo as a Christmas gift, I decided that I would give the program a try starting January 1.
Last year around this same time, I completed approximately 16 weeks of a three-level allergy-detox (stopping when I had lost too much weight). The programs did not seem all that different so I didn’t think it would be that difficult to go 21 days.
One of the most important things I have learned about dietary change is that restriction can lead to binging. If we feel limited, desire increases and takes on more importance. During my allergy detox, while I constantly had to check my list of approved foods, I was able to eat as much steak and eggs or bacon burgers (no bun) as I needed to. While I realize not everyone agrees, I don’t have a problem witheating fats.
Pamela Reilly, ND, CNHP, MH, CWHP, is a Naturopathic Physician and speaker that I trust with my own health and wellness. She designed the allergy-detox program that I completed last year. She clarifies that “if an eating style is extremely restrictive it is not intended to be permanent.”
I do think part of the secret to success is making sure that you do not feel restricted and finding indulgences when you need them. Sometimes you really do just need to make it just a few more hours before the craving subsides. On the other hand, over indulging does not do your body any favors.
Even if the indulgence is something like grapefruit—too much of even a good thing is still too much. Reilly believes that “people who truly want to change react really well to restrictions”; however, she adds that she “always provides substitutes when telling people to remove something” because she believes “it’s a lot healthier to function from an abundance mindset and to focus on the benefits and not what you are eliminating.” (more…)
Americans love fad diets. There is a long history of attaching ourselves to the next fad, dating back to the Vinegar diet in 1820. (No wonder I am constantly being asked to find a quick fix to the growing obesity epidemic in our country.) However, this is not the case in Europe where food culture and traditions hold fast against the deep pockets of the weight loss industry. Europeans have an innate sense to diet sensibly without falling victim to the 40 billion dollar weight loss industry that we Americans buy into year after year.
Luckily, the tide may be turning in the U.S. The Federal Trade Commission recently announced an initiative against deceptive claims made by marketers of fad weight loss products. From food additives to dietary supplements, the government is making a move to intervene and crack down on deceptive and misleading propaganda.
If you haven’t already, now may be a good time to decrease your consumption of processed sugar. New research published in the journal Nature Medicine shows a link between processed sugar and cancer cells. Though it is not the first study to find a correlation between the two, this particular study is the first to suggest sugar as a way to detect cancer in the body.
The detection method, called glucose chemical exchange saturation transfer (glucoCEST), was discovered when scientists from University College London were experimenting with a new cancer detection method involving a unique form of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). The scientists programmed an MRI scanner to look specifically for glucose, and found that cancer tumors lit up brightly when scanned in this way due to their high sugar content. “The method uses an injection of normal sugar and could offer a cheap, safe alternative to existing methods for detecting tumors, which require the injection of radioactive material,” said Dr. Simon Walker-Samuel, the lead researcher of the study in a release.
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