Earlier this year I set out on a mission to rid my diet of sugar and to educate myself on the dangers of a sugar as an addictive chemical. After a couple of months into my mission, I realized that I cannot rid my diet completely of sugar, it’s everywhere! But I have really limited the amount of sugar that I consume by simply reading the labels and searching for alternatives.
This new eating behaviour has really been a challenge physically, mentally and socially. Our Western culture diets are flooded with this uber-sweet chemical called fructose. It is literally in just about everything we eat. As I scan the ingredient lists of any processed food, all I see are things that end with “ose” (dextrose, glucose, fructose, etc). What sickens me is how much-processed food companies want to make their food appear healthier with clever words such as “fat-free”, “gluten-free” and “natural flavours”. Then I glance at the nutritional label and see that it is riddled with loads of sugar. Argh!!!
Read the labels with care!
The ironic thing about our Western culture is that even though we are eating less fat now than we did 30 years ago, obesity rates are still rising to an epidemic rate! We have finally become enlightened to the idea that refraining from deep-fried food is healthier for us, but even with our leaned out diets, we are still gaining more fat than ever before. Why is that? Sedimentary lifestyles surely are a factor but so is the overabundance of fructose in our diets.
Fructose is the bad part of sugar that does not give our bodies energy. Glucose is the part of sugar that our body uses to make energy. When you eat an apple, it contains both parts glucose and fructose. But the ratio of sugar to nutrients in that apple is at a healthy level so you will never become fat eating apples. The unhealthy part is when you squeeze the juice from 10 apples and drink that juice. This concentrated apple juice is NOT as healthy as it contains a high level of fructose as well as glucose. You are essentially drinking sugar. If you lead an active lifestyle, you will probably burn off the excess glucose but what about the fructose?
Excessive fructose found in most processed foods goes straight to your liver and gets processed into fat cells. In a diet heavily loaded with sugar, the liver will eventually become fatty and loses its ability to absorb insulin. Insulin is the hormone responsible for turning glucose (the good part of sugar) into energy for the body to use. So what happens is that the high levels of fructose negate the “benefits” of glucose. It is a vicious cycle that eventually leads to the metabolic syndrome where you become a type 2 diabetic, obese and heart disease sets in. On top of all that, cancer becomes a higher concern as cancer cells thrive in this fructose infested environment.
Fructose is just poison to your body.
I know this topic will not resonate with a lot of people. A quick walk down the hallways of any hospital will prove that. I wrote this post because I am witnessing far too many people I love fall victim to a diet loaded with sugar that is slowly killing them. I am not advocating for the eradication of sugar altogether from our diets. We deserve to treat ourselves once in awhile. The problem is the lack of attention that is given to the daily foods that we take for granted as being healthy. This lack of attention is either education-related or plain ignorance. The purpose of this post is to help with both.
In order to avoid chronic health problems stemming from our food, we have to read the nutrition labels and learn about the chemicals that are in the box. At that point, we can determine if it is worth eating or keep looking for an alternative that has less sugar and/or preservatives in it. If you choose to eat fructose in your morning toast (either in the bread and/or the jam you spread), then add salad dressing to your kale at lunch and then put ketchup on your plate for supper, the problem then becomes that slice of apple pie we bury for dessert. Moderation is the key but the devil is in the details.
Like the old lady in the Frank’s Red Hot sauce commercials, “They put that sh*t on everything!”. Same can be applied to the fructose epidemic in our foods today. Get wise to your food habits!
PS: Here are some foods you may not be aware that may have highly concentrated fructose in them:
- Tomato sauces (soups, spaghetti, ketchup etc)
- Frozen pizzas
- Cereal and protein bars
- Salad dressing
- Canned fruit