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Family Nutrition & Health
Slow Down on Sugar As sugarplum fairies dance in your head – and sweet temptations call out at every holiday gathering – the bitter truth remains: Added sugar is unhealthy. Here are just a few reasons why sugar is so bad:
Sugar contains calories but no essential nutrients. Getting just 10 – 20 percent of calories in your diet from sugar can contribute to nutritional deficiency.
Sugar is bad for your teeth. The bad bacteria in your mouth feed off it.
The fructose in added sugar overloads your liver and can lead to non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). This is especially true for those who are inactive and eat a Western diet. NOTE: The fructose in fruit is not the same as the fructose found in added sugar. Fruit is still a healthy “sweet” you can indulge in regularly.
When you eat a lot of sugar, it can cause insulin resistance – a stepping stone to obesity, cardiovascular disease, metabolic syndrome and type II diabetes. Many scientists believe elevated levels of insulin can contribute to cancer.
Our brains don’t register the calories of the fructose in added sugar so they don’t make us feel full. That is not true of the fructose in fruit.
Sugar can be a strong trigger for those who have a tendency toward addiction. For some people, the large release of dopamine from sugar consumption can actually cause an addiction to junk food and sugary foods and they spiral out of control.
So how can you have a sweeter new year?
Keep everyone in the family on a plan to reduce sugar intake to 60 - 70 grams/day – with most of that from natural sources like fruit. According to the USDA, an orange has 9 grams; a banana has 14. But a can of soda has 44.
Limit your juices; choose whole fruit over fruit juice. A cup of orange juice has 21 grams (vs. the fruit with just 9).
Limit prepared foods and make it yourself. Avoid filling your grocery cart – or cafeteria lunch tray – with packaged goods that are loaded with added (and often hidden) sugar.
Read labels and look for lower sugar and no-sugar-added products.
Get family nutrition informationfrom the FitFamily archives! Missed any of our previously posted nutrition tips, CLICK HERE to view them.