3 Reasons Why Sugar is Dangerous

American’s are spending more money than ever on candy for Halloween, but do you know why sugar is dangerous? Find out the top 3 truth bombs about why sugar is dangerous and how to avoid the hazard.

Halloween is just a few days away. We are frantically running around shopping for our costumes so we will be ready for that “one” party. Or we are spending hours trying to make our own costume. I was thinking about making a “wall flower” costume this year.

According to the National Retail Federation (NRF), Americans will spend on average $75 on costumes this Halloween totaling of 2.8 billion dollars. And of that, $350 million will be spend on their 4 legged furry friends. Now get this, Americans will spend over 2.2 billion on candy….alone! That’s a lot of candy.

And if you could remember when you were a kid how long it took you to go through all the good candy? Perhaps a week? Maybe less? But first, you had to hide a stash from mom and dad. Then if you were on your best behavior, you would get rewarded with a rationed portion from your parents. Then on the downlow, you would be doubling up from your secret candy stash! Oh yes, I was a sneaky Lil Ninja! I know you are probably thinking that with all this obsession with candy, you can see why we as a society are largely overweight and obese.

We recently asked group of our clients about what are they struggling with in regard to their fitness goals and more than 60% of them expressed how difficult it is to not eat the sugary sweet stuff. Pastries, candies, chocolate, desserts and sodas. And with Halloween just around the corner, this is a good time to throw some truth bombs about sugar. It just might make you think twice about drinking that Crush Soda…or not!

Truth Bomb 1: More than one-third (34.9% or 78.6 million) of U.S. adults are obese.

The nation spends an estimated $190 billion a year treating obesity-related health conditions. Rising consumption of sugary drinks has been a major contributor to the obesity epidemic. Research findings from Princeton University lend support to the theory that the excessive consumption of high-fructose corn syrup found in many beverages may be an important factor in the obesity epidemic. Today we are consuming on average 130-160 pounds of refined sugar per year according to the United Stated Department of Agriculture. Yes, that is not a typo. Pounds! That is almost 2 and a half of these 5 pound bags per month! 100 years ago, the average consumption was 4-7 pounds of sugar per year. So sugar is in abundance and is readily available for us to consume and in high quantities as well. According to the American Heart Association we should only consume 6-9 teaspoons of sugar. However, in contrast, the average adult consumes 22 teaspoons per day. Who’s the Sugar Daddy now?

Truth Bomb 2: High Fructose Corn Syrup or HFCS is now considered a Hepatotoxin – Toxic to the liver.

In comparison to ethyl alcohol, or distilled spirits like beer, vodka, tequila or wine, fructose has the identical impact on the liver and body as alcohol. But since fructose is not metabolized in the brain, there’s no alcoholic buzz. So imagine a youngsta drinking a Super Big Gulp, they might as well be drinking pints of beer. Because they are doing the same thing to their liver as alcohol would.

According to Dr. Robert Lustig, Pediatric Endocrinologist at the University of California San Francisco, he says that there are many metabolic syndromes that excessive and chronic alcohol and fructose consumption share.

Here are just a few examples of the metabolic syndromes from chronic and high level
exposure of Alcohol vs Fructose.

Chronic Alcohol ConsumptionChronic Fructose Consumption
  • Hypertension
  • Cardiomyopathy
  • Dyslipidemia
  • Pancreatitis
  • Obesity (Insulin Resistance)
  • Malnutrition
  • Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (AFLD)
  • Fetal Alcohol Syndrome
  • Addiction
  • Hypertension
  • Cardiomyopathy
  • Dyslipidemia
  • Pancreatitis
  • Obesity (Insulin Resistance)
  • Malnutrition
  • Non- Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD)
  • Fetal Insulin Syndrome
  • Addiction/Habituation

Truth Bomb 3: High levels of fructose can increase fat storage.

When fructose enters the liver, the liver uses the fructose to create fat. This process is called lipogenesis. If there are high quantities of fructose in the liver, tiny fat droplets begin to accumulate in liver cells (see figure). This buildup of fat droplets, along with inappropriate dietary fat intake, insulin resistance and increased oxidative stress can promote the development of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, which in and of itself, can result in hepatic insulin resistance, a key feature of type 2 diabetes. It’s called nonalcoholic fatty liver syndrome because it looks just like what happens in the livers of people who drink too much alcohol. (Oxidative stress is essentially an imbalance between the production of free radicals and the ability of the body to counteract or detoxify their harmful effects through neutralization by antioxidants).

Virtually unknown before 1980, nonalcoholic fatty liver disease now affects up to 30% of adults in the United States and other developed countries, and between 70% and 90% of those who are obese or who have diabetes.

Bonus Truth Bomb: According to Ahmed et al., 2013, research has revealed that sugar and sweet reward can not only substitute to addictive drugs, like cocaine, but can even be more rewarding and attractive. University of Bordeaux, Bordeaux, France.

So what now? Do I have to eat less sugar?

Eating less sugar may help combat some of the metabolic conditions associated with consuming high amounts of sugar. However, there are other reasons why we as a nation are overweight and unhealthy and its not all because of that sweet goodness. We actually need carbohydrates to survive. The truth is that sugar broken down from carbohydrates is one of your body’s most important fuels. It’s readily accessible by most organs and tissues, available in large quantities and is the preferred fuel for your brain and muscles. Glucose is simple sugar that is an important energy source in living organisms and is a component of many carbohydrates. So yes, we need the carbs and the glucose. There are many kinds of carbohydrates which includes breads, pastas, fruit and sugar. Virtually every cell in the body can break down glucose for energy.

In regards to obesity, saying that sugar and HFCS is the “one and only devil” must be put into context. Alan Aragon, an influential figure in the modern movement towards evidence-based information stated in his blog in response to Dr. Lustig widely watch video on HFCS, “The impact of HFCS consumption on BMI must be put in context with other broad economic and societal changes during the past several decades. Many other plausible explanations for rising overweight and obesity rates exist, including a decrease in smoking; an increase in sedentary occupations; an increase in two-income households and single-parent households; transportation and infrastructure changes that discourage physical activity; a decrease in PE classes and extracurricular sports programs in schools; an increase in sedentary forms of entertainment (i.e. TV/movie viewing, video games, etc.); demographic changes (i.e. aging population, immigration, etc.); a decrease in food costs with increase in food availability and changes in food consumption patterns”.

In closing, experts still have a long way to go to find a direct link between fructose and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. High intakes of fructose are associated with these conditions, but clinical trials have yet to show that it causes them. In the mean time, choose foods that are minimally processed, choose whole foods as much as possible, manage your caloric intake, don’t over indulge on sugar, and be active.

So—What will it be? TRICK or TREAT!? Which will you choose? Well, I am so going to scare the living poop out of the kids instead of giving them candy! I’ll just raise their belly fat by increasing their cortisol levels from scaring them rather from the candy! Haha! Just kidding! Maybe!

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