Posted on Nov 07, 2019, 3 p.m.
Added sugars are hard to avoid, it seems sugar has been added to everything these days, but diets high in sugar and processed foods have been linked to obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and possibly even cancer.
In American meals are no longer what they once were, not that long along meals were nutritious and they could be deliciously elaborate. Fast forward to today these lovely aromatic, nutritious and comforting home cooked meals have been replaced with take out and ready made in the name of convenience with a huge greedy industry looking to cash in, most often with less than nutritious meals despite clever packaging and advertising.
It really doesn’t come as a surprise to find out that the average American consumes 17 teaspoons of added sugars every day, according to research from the University of California; this stat is compared to the daily recommendations of a maximum of 6 teaspoons for women and 9 for men set by the American Heart Association.
Diets high in added sugars such as those commonly found in soda/pop have been linked to obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and some cancers. Thus far public health campaigns have not really done much to combat the low cost convenience or the multisyllabic sweentened saccharin aspartame addled brain. To be clear added sugars are not the same as naturally occurring sugars such as those in fruits which don’t pose the same concerns as added sugars.
It is suggested that the American unbalanced diet started with perpetuated misplaced fear of fact. A vexing correlation between high fat diets and high cholesterol was discovered in the 1940s, this prompted well meaning physicians to prescribe low fat diets to patients at risk of heart disease. This diet became touted as good for the whole nation by the 1960s. Americans were buying low fat everything in the 1980s, the war on carbs was all but won.
However, removing fat from food required it to be substituted with something else, and in the majority of cases manufacturers championed sugar. Jump forward to today and added sugar is almost impossible to escape, especially in processed foods, which accounts for 58% of the average American’s daily calories. These added sugars come from sources such as candy whether you know it or unwittingly add it from sources such as canned tomato sauce added to your home cooked pasta; that sauce most likely has 3 teaspoons of sugar but less than half of that actually comes from the tomatoes, it’s glucose all the way down the line.
Recently the FDA announced it would now require companies to list daily values for added sugars on nutritional labels. This is because in the 2010s we are now becoming anti-sugar and more pro-fat in a changing message. Consumers are urged to read labels where they should now be able to see the amounts of each ingredient including added sugars per serving and the percentage relative to the FDA’s allowance of 12.5 teaspoon or 10% of the archetypal 2,000 calorie a day diet.
Despite the changing message American foods are still as sweet, salty, fatty, or otherwise as intoxicating as ever. Really what difference does it matter being able to read how bad the food in the supermarket is if the content of said foods hasn’t changed along with the changed message? This has created a mixed message to say the least, as knowledge in the absence of regulations is often more useless than helpful, and to be honest sometimes regulations don’t necessarily work either.
When you take into consideration what sugar does to the mind and body this is especially true. Most often people are quick to call things other than drugs addictive, whether it is chocolate, money, sex, smart phones, or the internet. But the fact is that sugar actually does play around with the brain’s reward center, so make no mistake, much like drugs just a little bit of sugar really will make you want more.
Unfortunately this sugar laden American diet has been exported all over the world, liken this to colonization by McD’s and Frosted Flakes, even the Mediterranean diet has been usurped by the sugar empire. Enter the global obesity epidemic, which continues to increase.
In today’s quest for food there is almost nowhere to hide from added sugars, with no regulations the burden remains on the consumer, who more often looks at the pictures on the box rather than reading the labels for convenience. Reducing the amounts of added sugars in the diet can be difficult, success of this depends largely on a number of social and environmental factors.
Reading the labels is important to know what you are about to eat, and to find a better alternative. Switching out what you can is under your control such as choosing fresh alternatives rather than those processed foods. We may not be able to get away from the sugar empire’s grasp on the food industry, but most of us can at least learn to cook and break this cycle. Given the continued prevalence of obesity and its related conditions getting back to fresh and home cooked never looked as good as all this added sugar is most certainly killing us.
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This article is not intended to provide medical diagnosis, advice, treatment, or endorsement.