Sugar and Your Health

Did you know that most Americans

consume over 19 teaspoons (76 grams)

of sugar each day?!

To put this in perspective there are 39 grams of sugar in a 12 oz can of Coca-Cola, 2 Tbs of Heinz Ketchup has 8 grams, and ½ cup serving of Breyers Chocolate ice cream has 16 grams. These three foods total 63 grams. It adds up fast!

How much is within a healthy range?

It is recommended that adults consume no more than 6 teaspoons, 24 grams, a day.

There are two types of sugar to be mindful of, natural and added.

Natural Sugar:

Natural sugar exists within whole foods, whereas added sugars are those included during processing for enhanced texture and/or flavor. For example, an orange naturally contains fructose. Orange juice, by contrast, may have sugar added during processing to make it taste sweeter and thus be more appealing.

Natural sugars exist naturally in foods like fruits and vegetables. These foods often also come packaged with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber, which help reduce the glucose spike that can lead to compromised health. When consumed in the form of whole foods, fiber also helps increase satiety, which can limit the amount consumed at one sitting.  Natural sugars typically increase as the fruit or vegetable ripens.

Added Sugar:

Added sugars are added during processing. Sources of added sugars include soft drinks, desserts (like cookies and cakes), crackers, sauces, dips, and candies. Foods with added sugars tend to be higher in calories and lower in nutritional value. They usually don’t offer the same amount of beneficial nutrients, such as fiber, that foods with natural sugars may have. These foods might also be less likely to be consumed as part of a balanced meal, which means they are more likely to lead to a significant rise in blood glucose. Without fiber to signal fullness, foods that contain added sugars are also more likely to be consumed in excess.

Why is it important to be mindful of your sugar intake?

Excessive sugar consumption has been shown to negatively affect your health and wellness in a variety of ways.

Sugar and your health:

  • Contributes to weight gain.
  • May increase your risk of heart disease.
  • Leads to insulin resistance and causes elevated blood sugar which increases the risk of type 2 diabetes.
  • May increase your risk of cancer.
  • May contribute to pre-mature aging.
  • Saps your energy.
  • Contributes to an unhealthy BMI by distorting feelings of satiety following a meal, which leads to overeating and an increased risk of obesity.
  • May increase risk for Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Misplaces nutrient-dense calories and may lead to malnourishment and vitamin deficiencies, even if calorie needs are being met or exceeded.
  • May increase likelihood of dental cavities.
  • May increase risk of asthma.
  • May disrupt the gut microbiome and negatively impair immunity.
  • Promotes inflammation, the underlying cause of many chronic diseases.
  • Negatively impacts hormones that help regulate both blood sugar and appetite, which can contribute to weight gain.

It is undeniable that a diet high in sugar will sabotage your efforts to lose weight, age gracefully, get fit, and have ultimate health and wellness.

Good News!

Once you cultivate awareness around your sugar consumption and gradually ween yourself off it, you will look and feel incredible!

Here are some tips on how to reduce your consumption of added sugars:

  • Swap soft drinks, energy drinks, processed juices and sweetened teas for water or unsweetened seltzer.
  • Drink your coffee black or use Stevia for a zero-calorie, natural sweetener.
  • Sweeten plain yogurt with fresh or frozen berries instead of buying flavored, sugar-loaded yogurt.
  • Consume whole fruits instead of sugar-sweetened fruit smoothies.
  • Replace candy with a homemade trail mix of fruit, nuts and a few dark chocolate chips.
  • Use extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice and apple cider vinegar in place of sweet salad dressings.
  • Choose marinades, nut butters, ketchup and marinara sauce with zero added sugars.
  • Look for cereals, granolas and granola bars with under 4 grams (1 tsp) of sugar per serving.
  • Swap your morning cereal for a bowl of rolled oats topped with nut butter and fresh berries, or an omelet made with fresh greens.
  • Instead of jelly, slice fresh bananas or dates onto your peanut butter sandwich.
  • Use natural nut butters in place of sweet spreads like Nutella and processed peanut butter.
  • Shop the perimeter of the grocery store, focusing on fresh, whole ingredients.
  • Swap out sugary desserts for 1-2 squares of dark chocolate (70% or higher cacao content).
  • Start reading labels on packaging to be aware of where sugar is lurking in processed food.
  • Be mindful of the amount of honey, agave and maple syrup you consume.

Next Steps:

Consider observing your daily sugar consumption, it may surprise you.

Keep a food journal for 2 weeks to get an honest reflection of where the sugar is in your diet. We often underestimate how much we consume on a given day.  Sugar hides in processed foods. By limiting consumption of processed foods such as soft drinks, condiments, dressings, and snacks you will be well on your way to keeping your sugar consumption in check. Your health and wellness will thank you for it.

You deserve to feel your best!

Are you ready to dive deeper? Are you ready to start living a life rooted in health, wellness and happiness? My signature Reclaim Program is a 6-month custom, 1-on-1 coaching experience designed specifically for YOU where you will be guided, inspired and held accountable for the change you crave in your life. This holistic approach is intended to balance mind, body and soul for optimal health and wellness. Go for the change you crave. Reclaim it. You’re worth it! Click here to learn more.

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Ashley Logan is a Certified Integrative Health and Well-Being Coach, mentor, writer and workshop facilitator who guides clients to create actionable strategies that support their physical, mental, emotional and spiritual wellness for optimal health. She is a certified RYT-200 hour yoga instructor and double-certified Integrative Health and Well-Being Coach from the Institute of Integrative Nutrition and Duke Health Integrative Medicine. She embraces her clients' individuality and customizes her coaching modalities to maximize results. She specializes in sustainable behavioral change.


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