by Jeff Clemetson, Editor
Is sugar as toxic as chemicals? Are sweets as addictive as cocaine? Why does something that tastes so good have to be so bad for you? These are questions that were addressed in a recent interview on “60 Minutes” with Dr. Robert Lustig, a professor of clinical pediatrics at the University of California, San Francisco and an expert on childhood obesity.
Lustig cited the rising rates of obesity as a crisis and puts the blame on today’s sweetened and processed foods. Lustig said that the overall intake of table sugar has declined over the last 40 years, but has been replaced by processed sweeteners such as high fructose corn syrup. According to recent studies, a whopping 16 percent of American’s daily caloric intake is a sugar or a sweetener. Lustig cited that the sugary food items like soda, fruit drinks and ice cream fill the body and keep it from being hungry for nutrient rich foods like vegetables and whole grains. Sugary foods are also addicting to the body because of the quick energy it receives from the “sugar rush.”
So what can we do to get back to a healthy diet? The first thing to do is to recognize just how little sugar is recommended to eat daily – only about a cup of ice cream or one soda. That is not very much if you have a sweet tooth, however, this is only recommended for added sugars. You can still eat natural sweets found in fresh fruit.
One of the best plans for lowering your sugar intake is to eliminate sodas from your diet completely. They are refreshing and taste great, but are also highly addictive and are the easiest way to go over your daily-recommended intake of sugar.
One of the other ways to reduce your sugar intake is to become label savvy. Learn to read the ingredients in all your foods you buy – especially foods that are packaged. Because some foods contain natural sugars and added sugars, you will need to recognize the terms for added sugar. For example, a natural yogurt with natural fruit will have natural sugars from the fruit and some from the yogurt as well. But a sweetened yogurt would also contain a listed ingredient such as high fructose corn syrup, white sugar, brown sugar, raw sugar, fructose sweetener, liquid fructose, anhydrous dextrose, crystal dextrose, corn syrup, corn syrup solids, maple syrup, malt syrup, molasses or honey.