Blog | Monday, May 7, 2012

Too much sugar has got to go

I watched "60 Minutes" and it reinforced my evolving understanding that refined sugar is toxic for the human body. Dr. Lustig, a pediatric endocrinologist at the University of California-San Francisco, was interviewed along with other researchers and the evidence strongly confirms just how bad sugar is for us.

We know about its contribution to obesity and diabetes, but now research shows sugar raises LDL cholesterol, the culprit in heart attacks and stroke. To add to the "sugar is toxic" message, research also shows that certain cancers have sucrose receptors and sugar makes cancer grow.

You may be saying, "Hey, refined sugar has been around for centuries and it was never a problem before. What's the big deal now?"

The big deal is just how much sugar and high fructose corn syrup are hidden in our foods and the vast quantities that are now consumed.

According to Whole Health Source, in 1822, the average American ate the amount of sugar found in one 12 ounce soda every 5 days. Now we eat that much every 7 hours. We know that candy, soda and junk food are loaded with sugar. But did you know that crackers, yogurt, ketchup, Popsicles, low fat salad dressing, white bread and buns, and spaghetti sauce are also loaded with sugar? In fact you have to really read the label to find a food product that does not contain sugar or high fructose corn syrup.

Here is a mind boggling fact. Four grams of sugar equals one teaspoon. A can of regular soda (12 oz.) contains 40 grams of sugar. That is 10 teaspoons of sugar in one soda! The next time you are at the market, notice the rows and rows of soft drinks offered. Most of the containers are the 64 oz. size! The average male between ages 12 and 29 drinks a half-gallon a day.

What does all of this mean? Well for me, I'm starting a sugar free diet. Yes, that means I am eliminating all (yes all) refined sugar from my diet. I will eat fruits that are naturally sweetened but I'll be checking labels and if it has sugar, I'm not eating it.

I encourage all of you reading this to join me. This will mean consciously drinking more water and having it with me where ever I go. For a sugar craving I will use Stevia natural sweetener and fruit. Increasing foods high in B vitamins and whole grains will also help reduce sugar craving.

I always thought I ate healthily but sugar has got to go. Join me?

This post originally appeared at Everything Health. Toni Brayer, MD, FACP, is an ACP Internist editorial board member who blogs at EverythingHealth, designed to address the rapid changes in science, medicine, health and healing in the 21st Century.