Wouldn’t it be nice if there was one simple formula that everyone could use to calculate how much sugar is safe to eat every day? That dream is not possible because there are too many variables from person to person. Your body does not necessarily function like your neighbors.
Some things that have to be taken into consideration when figuring out how much sugar or carbs you can eat, are your overall health as well as any chronic illnesses you might have such as diabetes, heart disease, metabolic syndrome or thyroid disease. Below is a list of general factors that influence your body’s ability to manage sugar.
- Muscle density
- Body fat
- Chronic disease
- Hereditary factors
- Dietary factors
- Activity level
Be Cautious About General Recommendations
So even though the American Heart Association says it’s okay for men to have 8 teaspoons of added sugar a day, and women can have 6 (that’s about 1 soda or 1 candy bar), those recommendations may not be for you. A lot of people make this mistake, assuming that such advice is good for everyone. As a matter of fact, this suggestion is based on average healthy adults with no weight or disease issues.
If you are overweight, have diabetes or some other metabolic condition, are somewhat sedentary, or have a hereditary tendency toward high blood sugar you may be better off with no added sugar in your diet. It won’t kill you to not eat added sugars.
Look Beyond Candy Bars and Ice Cream
It may be easy to cut out or cut down on the obvious culprits of added sugar such as sodas and fruit cocktails, cookies, pasties, candy and ice cream but this is only half of the problem. Most of the added sugars we eat are hiding in so called health food such as yogurt, granola bars, sports and energy drinks, whole wheat bread, soups and all sorts of packaged foods and snacks. Especially anything labeled low fat is guaranteed to have extra sugar to make up for a lack of taste.
These added sugars combined with the naturally occurring sugar and carbohydrates we eat in fruit, vegetables, grains and dairy, often add up to more than the body can process in a day, a week or a month. The body works hard to keep blood glucose levels between 70 to 140 mg/dl before and after meals. Too much sugar and carbohydrate will cause even a healthy young person’s body to struggle. There is no place for that excess to go except into fat cells or the liver.
Is Your Sweet Tooth Crying?
You may experience temporary sugar withdrawal that feels like a temper tantrum. Sugar has been found to be as addictive as Cocaine or Heroin in recent studies. However, the process of getting unhooked from sugar maybe a little simpler. Eat more nutritious unprocessed food and less or no added sugars.
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