It is nearly impossible to leave the grocery store without something sweet in the cart. Processed sugar is everywhere in regularly consumed items like bread, cereals, and even salad dressings. Cutting out sugar all together or just reducing sugar intake can have more benefits than just slimming down the waistline.
The human body only needs one type of sugar, glucose, to survive, according to National Institute of Health. It is also reported that humans do not need to consume glucose because bodies can make glucose by breaking down food molecules like carbohydrates, proteins, and fats.
The Harvard School of Public Health reported the average American consumes 22 teaspoons of sugar a day, which amounts to 350 extra calories.
“The FDA approved Dietary Guidelines suggest that we only should consume processed sugars that amount to 10% or less of our total calorie intake,” Plattsburgh State nutrition professor Terrance Vance said. “Processed sugars being sugars that are physically added to foods, not sugar that comes naturally in fruits.”
A Journal for Clinical Investigation study attributes an increased accumulation of fat in the belly and liver to the consumption of fructose-sweetened products. According to this study, if people are trying to lose belly fat, cutting down on sugar can be beneficial to your progress.
Vance said decreased sugar intake will, “lower your risk of potential life-threatening diseases.”
People are only increasing their chance for heart disease and other cardiovascular diseases by over-consuming processed sugar, Vance said.
Kendyll Gaster, junior nursing major at PSUC says that people are at a lower risk for Type II
diabetes when they consume a lower amount of processed sugar.
“Diabetes can often lead to serious vascular issues,” Gaster said, “that may lead to decreased blood flow and ‘perfusion’ which is the ability of oxygen to diffuse into the muscles of your extremities. The decrease in perfusion can lead to tissue death and loss of toes and even whole feet.”
PSUC senior nutrition major Keith Prevoset said sugar only gives people small bursts of energy but their body crash hard as soon as it uses it all up. She also said sugar can cause tooth decay and increase the likelihood of cavities because bacteria in the mouth feeds on sugars from food and drinks.
The American Heart Association offers tips on how to jumpstart this process like getting rid of table sugar, swapping out soda, andcomparing food labels are all great places to start. Small actions can make a big impact on overall health.
“When going grocery shopping, try and shop only the perimeter of the store” Vance said. “All of the processed foods are centralized in the middle so only getting the necessary food groups like dairy, meats, fruits and vegetables can be done by just staying along the outside.”
Vance also said grabbing a basket when shopping instead a cart will help to rethink about what foods are being bought because of how heavy the basket can get.
While a piece of chocolate or a sugary iced tea feels so right in the moment, down the line consequences of high sugar intake may come back. But before cutting off all sugary snacks completely, Vance suggests trying “shifting” first.
“If you love ice cream and you cut that off completely you may start to go crazy so instead, try to find healthier items that can be used as an alternative to ice cream,” Vance said. “Shifting focuses not on how to completely remove an item from your diet but how to shift the focus to something that satisfies that craving but is still beneficial to your health.”
Email Keely Cohen-Breen at firstname.lastname@example.org