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Q & A - Sugar Intake

Sara K. Larsen - Wednesday, January 14, 2015
I get a lot of questions from readers and clients about health and nutrition. In an effort to best answer those questions and share my advice to others, I will be answering some frequently asked questions in a few blog posts. I hope you find the information helpful!

Q: I've been reading up on the effects excess sugar has on the body and I've been trying to figure out what I can do to cut out the non essential sugars. Any suggestions?

A: This is a fantastic question and I'm really glad you asked. Sugar is highly addictive and it can be tough to avoid because it's in so many products. The average person takes in about 34 teaspoons of sugar (approximately 500 calories worth) in a typical day. Only 6 teaspoons or around 100 calories is what's recommended. Two major facts you should know about sugar:

- Our bodies interpret carbs as sugar and it cues our pancreas to make more insulin. Insulin triggers our appetite which results in us eating more sugar. Sugar also stimulates the liver to make new fat cells, and once you have fat cells, you have them forever. 

- Sugar likes to hide behind many different names and on labels it may be referred to as: glucose, fructose, maltose, sucrose, high fructose corn syrup, molasses, cane sugar, corn sweetener, raw sugar, syrup, maltodextrin, dextrose, honey, and fruit juice concentrate. 

Try to purchase groceries with the least amount of packaging as possible. Packaged foods like salad dressings, spaghetti sauces, soups and even pizza crusts can contain a lot of sugar. When you are going to purchase a packaged food item look for a single digit serving size (9 grams or less) of sugar. 

I highly suggest you focus on eating a well-rounded diet, especially concentrating on protein, vegetables, whole grains and healthy fats. It's okay to get your sugar from fruit because fresh produce also has lots of vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Besides eating whole unprocessed foods, cutting your sugar intake is probably the single best thing you can do to improve your health.