Most of us enjoy sweets, but sweets really should be treats. Why?
Sugar is a simple carbohydrate quickly broken down by the body which leads to a quick spike in blood sugar levels. When the body works properly, the pancreas then produces a hormone (insulin) which escorts the sugar (now the in the form of glucose) to the cells to be used as energy or stored for use later. However, when the body ingest lots of sugar, it overworks the pancreas and can lead to some pretty big problems, including insulin resistance, the precursor to type 2 diabetes.
Sugar is not an essential part of our diets, in fact we don’t need any. There are much healthier sources of carbs (whole grains and fresh fruit/vegetables). But sweets are good and most of us are probably not going to give them up forever, so it’s important to understand how much we can have in order to avoid problems. Sugar is an additive in many processed and prepared foods, so you have to check your labels for sugar content in those.
The American Heart Association recommends added sugar (that added to foods and/or beverages during preparation) in the following amounts:
- 100 calories for women
- 150 calories for men
To put this in perspective, a teaspoon of sugar contains 16 calories. One 12-ounce can of sugared soft drink may contain up to 10 teaspoons of sugar! So in one drink you get more than the daily recommended amount of added sugar. (Note: I hate this because I love Coke, or co-cola as we used to call it growing up in NC but I gave them up about 20 years ago and now enjoy them once in awhile as a treat.)
Because packaged products and fast foods are awash with sugar, it’s important to read labels and make reasonable choices – your pancreas will appreciate it.
This short video “Death by Sugar” by Jorge Cruise vividly shows how the body quickly reacts to it, so take a look.