How Toxic is Sugar?

In a recent interview that aired on CBS, Dr. Sanjay Gupta sparked a national discussion when he discussed the recent research results surrounding sugar consumption and the effects it can have on the human body.

This discussion has sparked a debate that we thought it would be useful to examine further in this blog post – namely just how dangerous is sugar consumption and what will consuming too much sugar do to you and your body over the longer term?

Most experts agree that excessive sugar consumption is either directly or indirectly to blame for many of the current diseases and adverse health conditions that are found throughout the world.

Such conditions include diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure, cancer and heart disease.

It is also a fact that around 16% of the total calories that many people consume come from added sugar that is contained in foods and drinks such as energy drinks, soda, desserts, fruit drinks, ice cream and chocolate.

The issue with this is that far too many people throughout the world are consuming too many calories in total, but with significantly too few nutrients in their diets as they are not consuming the required whole grains, fruits and vegetables.

The truth is that many of us don’t realize just how much sugar we are consuming. This includes via regular table sugar, as well as honey, syrup, and virtually all processed foods.

In addition, sugar is often consumed unnoticed via foods such as yoghurt, sauces, bread and peanut butter.

Another problem is that sugar is addictive, and ingrained in our biology – as there is no food stuff on the planet that has fructose in it that is poisonous to you – so put simply, when you taste something that’s sweet, it’s an evolutionary signal that this is a safe food for you to eat. This explains our fascination with sugar and why we are so keen to constantly consume so much of it.

Humans naturally used to get fructose mainly by eating fruit, which is also typically high in fiber, which helps to slow consumption and the body’s absorption of the food. But today’s processed foods, which contain refined sugar and high fructose corn syrup, are much easier to overeat, which has been one of the main causes of our current problem with sugar in our diet.

However, it’s important to note that not all nutrition experts are convinced that sugar is highly toxic. Although most agree that, when consumed in excess, sugar can be detrimental to your health, it is also widely accepted that when consumed in moderation, sugar is absolutely fine.

To give you some idea of how much sugar you should be consuming, and whether you are indeed taking in too much – The American Heart Association recommends that women consume around 100 calories – or 25 grams – of added sugar each day, while men limit consumption to around 150 calories – or 38 grams, per day.

To limit your sugar consumption, try and avoid drinking too many sugary drinks such as soda, and opt instead for unsweetened ice tea, water or 100 percent fruit juice.

Also, pay attention to labels and recognize that, in addition to high fructose corn syrup and sugar, items like corn syrup, corn syrup solids, malt syrup, liquid fructose, molasses, anhydrous dextrose and crystal dextrose all signal added sugars in a processed food item.