Tis the season for sweaters, cold weather, holiday parties, family togetherness, and sweets, sweets, and more sweets! While allowing yourself to enjoy grandma’s homemade pies and cookies is not a bad thing, overindulgence can lead to bad habits, changes in sleeping patterns, a lowered immune system, and an increase in the ole waistline.
Sugar lowers the activity of cells in your body that is responsible for how awake you are. These same cells are also responsible for appetite control. Therefore,you will be more likely to wake up during the night and eat more throughout the day by consuming large amounts of sugar.
Increases Your Likelihood Of Getting the Cold and Flu
When consuming sugar in large doses, it can temporarily suppress your immune system’s ability to respond to “invaders”. The effects of consuming sugar in large doses lasts for a few hours after consumption. If consumption of sugar happens occasionally then no worries; however, if this occurs on a regular basis you may be contributing to your body’s immune system not being able to work as efficiently as it would under normal circumstances.
Increases Risk of Heart Disease
Sugar is not only tough on your waistline and fitness goals, it is tough on your heart. A study by JAMA Internal Medicine found that participants who took in 25% or more of their daily calories from added sugars were more than twice as likely to die of heart disease than those participants who consumed less than 10% of added sugars.
You may be asking yourself how much added sugar per day is recommended? Am I consuming too much sugar on a daily basis? First of all let’s define natural sugar vs added sugar.
- Natural Sugar is sugar that is naturally found in foods, such as: fruits, veggies, dairy, and grains. The sugar that is found in these foods are made up of vitamins, protein, minerals, fat, and water.
- Added Sugar is sugar that is added during processing. This sugar is nutrient poor and offers little nutritional value aside from carbohydrates and calories.
According to the American Heart Association, the recommended amount of added sugar intake for men is 9 teaspoons or 36 grams. The recommendation for women is 6 teaspoons or 25 grams.
Food companies are smart, sneaky, and tricky. On the ingredient list, they will often list added sugars under different names. When reading labels, be aware of the following:
- Glucose, lactose, maltose, fructose, sucrose and other ingredients ending in ‘ose’
- Maple syrup
- Agave syrup
- High-fructose corn syrup
- Corn syrup
- Rice syrup
- Cane syrup
- Invert syrup
- Brown sugar
- Coconut sugar
- Fruit juice concentrate
- Dehydrated cane juice
- Corn sweetener
- Coconut sugar
**List taken from myfitnesspal.com**
Lastly we will leave you with tips for reducing your added sugar intake.
- Ditch the sugar: Try cutting back on the sugar you add by half and wean down from there. This includes sugar added to cereal, pancakes, and coffee.
- Drink more water: Cutting back on soda is a must. You can always add lemon or herbs to your water to make things “interesting” if plain water is not your thing.
- Add Fruit: Try eating more fruit whether fresh, frozen, dried, or canned. If selecting canned fruit, select fruit that is canned in light syrup or natural.
- Compare food labels: Look for the food with the least amount of sugar. Remember that food companies try to trick you with listing sugar under those “hidden” names as mentioned above.
- Replace it completely: You can enhance foods with spices such as ginger, allspice, cinnamon, or nutmeg instead of using sugar.
- Substitute: You can substitute sugar with equal amounts of non sweetened applesauce.
** List from the American Heart Association**
** All information from myfitnesspal.com and theamericanheartassociation.com**