The average American consumes around 17 teaspoons of added sugar per day.
And it’s no secret that sugar isn’t good for you.
The problem is, white table sugar and high fructose corn syrup are all too common in most people’s diets.
Why is this a problem? Both of them trigger major inflammatory responses in your body.
What is inflammation?
It’s your body’s immune response.
That sounds like a good thing, right? Well, it’s not always. It’s also at the route of almost every disease that can plague your body.
You might be thinking, “I’m pretty healthy, I’m not worried about disease.” Well, there are other symptoms of inflammation that you are probably struggling with. Inflammation can also cause: slower recovery, less fat burning, it can take away your strength, it causes you to feel hungry all the time, it decreases your sex drive, and leaves you feeling overall sluggish.
So, what’s the relation to white table sugar?
Did you know that the average American is consuming 22 teaspoons of white sugar every day?
Most of that sugar is coming from high fructose corn syrup, found in things like sodas, cereals, sauces, etc. The American Heart Association recommends that you consume between 6-9 teaspoons of sugar daily. So you can already see that the average is far surpassing the recommended.
The thing is, even 6-9 teaspoons is too much. With this much sugar in your system, you’ll still be dealing with a lot of inflammation.
Yes, but HOW does it trigger inflammation?
When you consume a lot of sugar, it triggers inflammatory cytokines within your body.
You can tell these levels are high when levels of C Reactive Protein (CRP), Tumor Necrosis Factor (TNF), and Interleukin 6 & 8 are also high. These three things are triggered by white blood cells to attack and protect certain areas of your body.
This means that the white sugar is triggering your immune system responses to kick into action.
White sugar really wreaks havoc on your body. It enters your system, and suddenly it’s chaos: your blood sugar levels will spike and your immune system responds to run damage control. Not to mention, when you consume a lot of white sugar or fructose, it stops you from being able to absorb the nutrients in the foods you might be consuming with it. This results in an even higher spike in blood sugar levels because there are no nutrients (like fiber or phytonutrients) to slow down the fructose and glucose.
A spike in blood sugar levels can affect your body in a number of ways…
In the short term, it will reduce your nitric oxide availability, which is key for heart function. It will also increase your free radical levels in your body, which forces your liver and other organs to work overtime (and they are often over-worked in the first place due to environmental toxins, etc.).
When your liver is over-worked it isn’t able to help to process and burn fat, which can halt weight loss or cause you to gain weight. The immune response that is triggered by these issues increases inflammation in your body which can cause pain, discomfort, fatigue, and trouble sleeping (which can lead to a whole other set of issues).
Isn’t fructose in fruit, so it’s good for you?
NO! Not always.
When you’re getting fructose in a concentrated form rather than naturally, it can cause problems for your health. There was a 2016 study done by Cancer researchers that found that cancers related to the breast were made worse by the fructose coming from white sugar and high (concentrated) fructose corn syrup.
This fructose was also found to increase the chances of breast cancer spreading to the lungs. Fructose can also cause fat accumulation. It uses something called an Active Transport System, which means that it has to be used immediately or it gets stored as fat.
You can see why it’s important to reduce the amount of fructose you’re taking in. Forget 6 teaspoons a day, make it zero if you can.
How Can You Avoid Too Much Sugar?
Try natural sources of maple syrup, honey, or agave. You could also try using stevia or monk fruit. It’s always going to be better for you to avoid processed foods and eat naturally.
Here are some top foods to avoid:
- Soft drinks: Soft drinks alone often contain your total daily intake of added sugar.
- Fruit juices: Did you know fruit juices can have as much sugar as soft drinks?
- Candies & Sweets: Candies and sweets obviously offer no nutritional value.
- Baked goods: Cookies, cakes, and pies are usually high in sugar and refined carbohydrates that make you crave them even more.
- Fruits canned in syrup: Eat whole fruits and vegetables instead.
- Low-fat, diet foods: These diet foods often make up the loss of fat with higher amounts of added sugar.
If you aren’t sure what to replace certain foods with- speak with your doctor or a dietician to see what might be best for you.