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The Bitter Truth About Sugar

The Bitter Truth About Sugar

What weighs in at 66 pounds (per year—every year—per person) in America? Sugar! That’s how much you’re taking in from high fructose corn syrup, cane sugar and other sweeteners like dextrose, fructose and malt. There are over 60 names for sweeteners found on food labels. If that surprises you, that’s because sugar is hidden in 74 percent of packaged/prepared foods you find at the grocery store.

According to Sugar Science: The unsweetened truth, an organization developed by researchers at the University of California San Francisco, there’s strong evidence that all that sweetening is souring your health—especially when it comes to heart disease, diabetes and liver disease.

Studies show excess fructose (not what you get from eating delicious, good-for-you, fresh fruit) is liver toxic. Additionally, excess sugar consumption is related to heart disease according to a 2016 JAMA Internal Medicine study. And it’s implicated to cause an increased risk of metabolic syndrome—a condition that’s associated with obesity, heart disease, insulin resistance and diabetes. Those conditions affect between 86 and 125 million American adults.

There’s also emerging evidence that excess sugar may play a role in the development of Alzheimer’s disease, cellular premature aging and even wrinkles.

What the food industry doesn’t want you to know
All that pales in comparison to the data that has been suppressed or manipulated by the sugar lobby and food industry for decades in an attempt to make other foods look unhealthier than sugar.

  • In the same 2016 issue of JAMA Internal Medicine that ran the study showing the link between sugar and heart disease, a commentary stated: "Is it really true that food companies deliberately set out to manipulate research in their favor?” Yes, it is, and the practice continues. In 2015, the New York Times obtained emails revealing Coca-Cola's cozy relationships with sponsored researchers who were conducting studies aimed at minimizing the effects of sugary drinks on obesity. Additionally, the Associated Press obtained emails showing how a candy trade association funded and influenced studies to show that children who eat sweets have healthier body weights than those who do not."
  • In the 1950s, the sugar industry squashed a study that showed the link between excess sugar and heart disease—that study has now been published (finally) in PLOS Biology.
  • In the 1950s, a year after the suppressed sugar-heart disease study, the sugar industry launched a rat study called Project 259 “to measure the nutritional effects of the [bacterial] organisms in the intestinal tract” when sucrose was consumed, compared to starch. It revealed a link to bladder cancer as well. But shortly before the research was completed, the sugar group pulled funding for the project, so the findings were never published.

Eliminating added sugars from your diet
For years, it’s been advised to eliminate all added sugars and syrups from your diet. But we know it can be difficult to start, and your dopamine-reward system craves the sugary treats. So, here’s our plan for removing excess sugar from your diet, keeping your dopamine system happy and achieving a much younger RealAge:

  • Get plenty of lean protein from nuts, legumes and whole grains, white meats and fish.
  • Enjoy at least three servings of fresh fruit daily. The high-fiber content helps make the natural sugars burn more slowly, so they provide energy but don’t spike your blood sugar.
  • Have 12-14 walnut halves daily to fight inflammation caused by excess sugar.
  • Enjoy half a glass of dry, red wine—it cranks up your dopamine reward system and that’ll ease your craving for sugar.
  • For a sweet treat—stick with one to three 22-calorie nuggets of 70 percent cacao dark chocolate a day. They deliver polyphenols that’ll keep your blood pressure in check and reduce your risk for heart attack and stroke.

Medically reviewed in October 2019.

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