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Cut Down On Added Sugar To Prevent Diabetes

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It can be difficult to know how much sugar we are consuming, since added sugar is hidden in 74% of all processed foods, ranging from bread to salad dressing. The recommended amount is 1 tsp or 4 gms a day. It becomes hazardous to health when women exceed 6 tsp (25 gms), men exceed 9 tsp (38 gms), and children exceed 3 tsp (12 gms) a day.

Can Too Much Sugar Cause Diabetes?

November is American Diabetes Month and is a time to come together as a community to stop diabetes. Here are just a few of the recent statistics about diabetes in the United States:

  • Nearly 30 million children and adults have diabetes.
  • Another 86 million Americans have prediabetes and are at risk for developing type 2 diabetes.
  • The total national cost of diagnosed diabetes is estimated to be $245 billion, according to the American Diabetes Association.
  • Diabetes is 99% preventable. Diabetes can be reversed.

Education is the key to preventing and reversing diabetes. Every day, most Americans consume about three times the amount of added sugar recommended for a healthy diet. There is growing evidence that all this sugar is not just making us overweight, it is making us sick.

[Read: Added Sugar Vs Natural Sugar: What’s The Difference?]

The Connection Between  Added Sugar Intake And Diabetes

Unlike sugar found naturally in whole foods like fresh fruit, added sugar is any caloric sweetener that is added in food preparation – whether it’s at the table, kitchen or processing plant. It can be difficult to know how much sugar we are consuming, since added sugar is hidden in 74% of all processed foods, ranging from bread to salad dressing. Added sugar masquerades under at least 60 aliases like sucrose and high-fructose corn syrup.

How much added sugar is considered too much?

The recommended amount is 1 teaspoon of added sugar, or 4 grams, per day. Major health impacts occur when women exceed 6 teaspoons (25 grams), men exceed 9 teaspoons (38 grams), and children exceed 3 teaspoons (12 grams) per day.

How much added sugar is in everyday items?

  • A 12 ounce can of soda has more than 40 grams of sugar (equal to the safe range of sugar consumed over 10 days)
  • A half cup of ketchup has 16 grams of sugar (equal to the safe range of sugar consumed over 4 days)
  • A 6-ounce, low-fat fruit yogurt has 21 grams of sugar (equal to the safe range of sugar consumed over 5 days)
  • An 8 oz bottle of Gatorade has 14 grams of sugar (equal to the safe range of sugar consumed over 3 days)

We often consume many of these sugary items within a day without noting how the sugar overload is causing us to feel.

Sugar Overload Symptoms: Short And Long Term

The metabolism of excess levels of sugar causes most of the same toxic effects as excess alcohol since the liver metabolizes sugar and ethanol (a.k.a., alcohol) the same way.

Short term sugar overload causes symptoms like mood shifts, learning difficulties, poor sleep, hot flashes, decreased energy, bloating, increased urination, abdominal or bladder pain, vision change and flu-like symptoms.

Long term sugar overload causes more than 70 documented adverse effects like increased belly fat, insulin resistance/diabetes, failing liver, kidneys, eyes and thyroid, frequent infections, cancer, dementia, stroke, infertility, developmental delay and poor growth.

Anyone with a typical daily diet consisting of a cup of coffee and a bowl of cereal with milk for breakfast, a container of fruit yogurt and a deli sandwich for lunch, a burger with fries and ketchup for dinner, and a bowl of ice cream for dessert is facing catastrophic health trouble. The total daily sugar consumption is sufficient to clog up every organ in the body from functioning properly.

Since the above diet is regularly consumed by Americans on most days, diabetes and corresponding diseases are increasing and intensifying.  Treating these diseases with only pharmaceuticals and other expensive medical interventions is not effectively preventing diabetes complications nor remarkably improving people’s quality of life. As a society, we need to address these issues at the root cause: our collective sugar consumption.

As a family physician practicing in San Francisco, CA since 2005, I concentrate on addressing the root causes of illnesses by combining the latest research in evidence-based medicine with integrative holistic care. By focusing on the whole person in the context of his or her nutrition, sleep, mental and other lifestyle stressors, we are able to determine and address the underlying causes of health problems.

To learn more about evidence-based, scientific information about sugar and its impact on health, go to www.sugarscience.org. 

Payal Bhandari M.D.

I provide personalized, comprehensive primary care in an integrative, holistic way to families and individuals of all ages. I went into the field of medicine to help people. Medical school taught me how to diagnose illnesses with countless textbook examples and practice. Experience has taught me how to read peoples' maladies, and to restore patients back to being whole. By taking a deeper look at the root cause of disease and embracing the mind, body, and spirit, I work with patients in transforming them back to wellness.

Payal Bhandari M.D.

I provide personalized, comprehensive primary care in an integrative, holistic way to families and individuals of all ages. I went into the field of medicine to help people. Medical school taught me how to diagnose illnesses with countless textbook examples and practice. Experience has taught me how to read peoples' maladies, and to restore patients back to being whole. By taking a deeper look at the root cause of disease and embracing the mind, body, and spirit, I work with patients in transforming them back to wellness.