Sweetener Shenanigans

added sugar american heart association cavities chronic disease obesity processed foods type 2 diabetes May 02, 2024

Added Sugar

Added sweeteners have become a common ingredient in many of our foods and drinks, even those that appear to be healthy. Over time, ever sweeter foods have become more and more appealing to the average consumer as manufacturers seek to increase product sales. Research has shown that refined sugar consumption can have severe detrimental effects on health, including increased risk of obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease and numerous other chronic health problems. 

Added sugar referes to any sugar that is added to foods or drinks during processing. This includes refined sugars like white sugar, brown sugar, and high fructose corn syrup as well as any natural sweetener including honey. Added sugar is found in some unexpected places, even foods that are already naturally sweet, such as fruit, dairy, and vegetable products. I was surprised to find added sugar in vegetable broth, tomato sauce and even tofu. However, unsurprisingly the majority of added sugar is found in processed foods like soda, candy, baked goods, and cereals. 


One of the dangers of added sugar is its effect on weight gain and obesity. When we consume excess sugar, our bodies convert it into fat and store it in our cells. Over time, this can lead to an accumulation of body fat, which can increase our risk of obesity and related health problems. Sugary drinks including soda and brightly colored "fruit" drinks have been found to be particularly harmful, as they can lead to increased weight gain. 

Type 2 Diabetes

Added sugar is also a major contributer in the developement of type 2 diabetes, a chronic condition efffecting millions of people worldwide. When we consume excess sugar, our bodies become less sensitive to insulin, a hormone that regulates bloood sugar levels. Too much sugar in the bloodstream can lead to insulin resistance, which is a key factor for type 2 diabetes. Additionally, excess sugar in the bloodstream causes blood sugar levels to spike and then drop, leading to feelings of fatigue, hunger, and irritability. 

Dental Health

Another danger of added sugar is its effect on dental health. When we consume sugary foods or drinks, the bacteria in our mouths feed on the sugar and produces acid, which can erode our tooth enamel and lead to cavities. Over time, this can cause tooth decay. Dental health is a key indicator of overall physical health.  

Food Labels 

It's important to read food labels and avoid processed foods and drinks that contain large amounts of added sugar. Product ingredients are listed in order of volume. The closer to the top the ingredient is listed, the greater the quantity contained. The American Heart Association recommendes women consume no more than 6 teaspoons of added sugar per day, while men should consume no more than 9 teaspoons. To put this into perspective, a single can of soda can contain as much as 10 teaspoons of sugar. 

Whole Foods 

Added sugar is a major contributor in a vast range of health problems. To protect health, it's important to limit consumption of highly processed foods and drinks that contain added sugar. Reading labels and increasing daily intake of whole foods like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains offers the surest line of defence against chronic disease. By making small changes to improve quality of food intake you can reduce your risk of chronic diseases and improve our overall health and well-being. 


Kelly Summers, is a Master Herbalist & Natural Healing Guide®. She knows that knowledge is empowering and deeply desires to share the insights she has learned through her continued journey of learning. 


American Heart Association: https://www.heart.org 

Price, Weston A. DDS. Nutrition and Physical Degeneration. Price-Pottenger, CA.1939.   


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