Unveiling Disruptive Sugars in the Foods We Eat
Added sugar is troublesome because of increased inflammation throughout the body. The effects of hidden and overconsumption of processed sugars have several indirect connections over time. For example, the inflammatory response to excess sugar consumption can burden the liver as it attempts to metabolize. The surplus of sugar will most likely convert to fat. With the more significant accumulation of fat, we put ourselves at risk for fatty liver disease and may increase the risk of diabetes and heart disease. This snowball effect can also lead to the development of additional chronic metabolic diseases and autoimmune illnesses.
Obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular and liver disease have become the most significant global health threats of our time. Our ability to convert food into nutrients and energy we need to thrive, grow, and flourish is compromised. In turn, the concession puts our body's metabolism into a tailspin where we must adequately eliminate waste. In turn, harmful bacteria advance, and immune functions become jeopardized.
Fortunately, we can take steps to revive our health. Choices we make everyday impact well-being. Most added sugars come from sports drinks/energy drinks, and soda is at the top of the list. From there, the list trickles down from desserts, fruit drinks, dairy desserts, candy, and ready-to-eat cereals.
Avoiding these hidden sugars can be challenging, but the feat is not impossible. The upside is improved immune responses. A resilient immune system is your best friend, especially at a time when morphing viruses prey on the weak. Bouncing back is a reinforcement of one's dedication to one's health. The following factors reinforce resiliency:
Read your labels, especially on packaged and convenience foods. Terms and pseudo names for sugar include high fructose corn syrup, sucrose, fruit juice concentrates, dextrose, and agave nectar. (There are over 100 names for hidden sugars.) Also, remember that ingredients are listed in descending order, so if you see a sugar-related ingredient at the top of the list, the product contains a significant amount. Becoming an informed label reader will also allow one to become more mindful of “healthy” foods. While these products are marketed as healthful, they can still contain added sugars.
Beware of the added sugars in sauces and condiments. Refer to your labels and the list of sugars (linked above) to become more mindful of what goes into your convenience items. With all the attention you are putting into becoming an educated consumer, and as you start to read those labels, it will surprise you how much added sugars go into lower- fat and fat-free items to enhance flavors and make them more appealing. Avoid and check products like ketchup, barbeque sauce, salad dressings, and marinades made with various pseudo-names of added sugars. Look for products with mission statements obligated to ease the minds and lives of consumers with simple, safe, and delicious ingredients.
Substituting this for that: Some like to reach for other foods to satisfy cravings for sweets when dedicated to ditching processed sugars. Refined starches like crackers and bread can also increase glucose levels. Comfort foods high in saturated fats and sodium can also contribute to unhealthy outcomes.
Natural sweeteners like honey and maple syrup have nutritional benefits, anti- bacterial, and anti-fungal properties, but should be consumed attentively.
Salad dressings, oatmeal raisin cookies, superfood bites, and sweet potato muffins are examples of mindfully using whole intact foods and natural sweeteners like maple syrup. I am always posting new recipes and healthy alternatives to social media if that is available and of interest to your journey.
Go slowly with adjustments to squash the added sugar habit, as your efforts can backfire with too much too soon. There is a method I like to use with clients. The Reset 90/10 program uses an elimination approach that aids in making sustainable changes with your specific goals in mind. With an emphasis on progress, not perfection, personalized nutrition for long-term success is feasible. With consistency, small changes bring about incredible long-term strides.
Choose whole foods. Select unprocessed whenever possible. Pick fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and nuts. These foods may contain natural sugars but provide essential nutrients and much-needed fiber for a thriving microbiome.
Reducing sugar is possible with a focused mindset. Our health is our most valuable asset, and your mindset and awareness can aid in making healthier choices and reducing one’s intake of hidden sugars.
In good health!