“While there’s plenty of evidence that excess sugar or high fructose corn syrup can be harmful to health, there’s actually no evidence that small amounts of refined sugar in the context of a nutrient-dense, whole foods diet (and active lifestyle) is harmful. The problem is that limiting yourself to small amounts of sugar is often easier said than done.” – Chris Kresser
How does one make an informed decision on sugar consumption?
There is a TONNE of misinformation regarding the sweet stuff that we are constantly bombarded with. I have done my best to source information from reputable professionals to provide you with some clear answers.
Dr. Chris Kresser recently published a short book on sweeteners that changed my perception of sugar. Many of his insights will be shared in the article below. To be clear I am ONLY writing about refined sugar. The alternatives such as honey, coconut sugar, artificial sweeteners, etc can be read about in Chris’ free e-book which I have a link for at the bottom of this page.
In the days of our hunter-gatherer ancestors, sweet tasting foods were known to be non-poisonous and nutrient dense. Precedence was placed on honey whenever it was available and it was eaten with reckless abandon. In some cases, honey made up to 70% of the diet when it was in season. Imagine how much sugar that is! You can stop beating yourself up for the spoonful of honey you eat every day, it’s in our nature and may not be as bad as you think.
Should we feel bad for the amount of sugar we consume?
Yes and no. You should be AWARE of the effects. Drinking liquid sugar, chocolate milk, and eating the same if not more food in a day pumps too many calories into the system. This leads to weight gain amongst many other negative effects. We simply do not adjust our eating habits based on the liquid calories we consume, this is a large contributor to the obesity crisis. Even a glass of organic orange juice is a sugar blast that many of us consume with breakfast.
Based on a study cited in Chris’ book, sugar can be directly linked to reduced immune system function. Your body is less effective at fighting off disease when you are hammering the cookies home.
Another popular one Doctor’s push is that sugar feeds cancer cells. Glucose, the form of sugar found in your blood, feeds cancer cells. By eating/drinking too many carbohydrates like bread, pasta, milk, etc you are increasing your overall blood sugar levels. You can feed cancer with potatoes. Being aware of the amount of sugar you put into your body is most important. So does having a strong understanding that the body needs glucose to survive. Do not go and immediately cut out all carbs! Practice consciously consuming carbohydrates and understand that the more glucose you push into your bloodstream the more fuel cancer cells have.
SO IS IT BAD FOR ME?!
In short, no. You may now breathe again and continue reading.
Is sugar addictive?
That depends on the individual. Based on current human studies there isn’t conclusive evidence that sugar is addictive for ALL of us. Those susceptible to binge eating are more likely to be “addicted” to sugar. The refined sugar we eat also interferes with two hormones in the body that signal “I’m hungry” & “I’m full”. This can easily lead to overconsumption which can be mistaken for addiction. At the end of the day, it is far too easy to overeat sugar, we all do it.
In closing let me leave you with these thoughts. Sugar is not the devil it is merely meant to be a “treat”. I categorize it in the same boat as alcohol or pizza, when consumed in moderation the effects are enjoyment. When consumed in excess the effects can be catastrophic. Eating a piece of chocolate or some candy will not be the end of your existence regardless of what Paleo Dave says. Do not beat yourself up for being a human, enjoy the experience!
If you’re interested in learning more about how calories actually work we can send you a copy of Anchored Nutrition’s Calorie Counting Debunked Infographic by clicking here
Here is the link to Dr. Chris Kressey’s ebook on sugar.
All the best,