By Steve Sharpton, Parsons Training, Tucson, Arizona
July 30, 2015
If there are ever been a more pervasive additive in the world of food, sugar happens to be one of the more talked about. It’s not like it is new argument or anything, for the health and effectiveness of sugar has been something that has raged on for decades. Study after study has indicated the popular additive is the stuff of danger and destruction when it comes to the body, and there will always be a slew of people that will indicate sugar is good for us! Whatever the case might be, it is one of those arguments that gets a lot of headway o the internet, for it is a conversation which sets off slews of conspiracies and connections. But then again, just about anything could be a conspiracy in the minds of certain individuals. We used to call them nut jobs or the neighborhood weirdo, but the internet has turned them into “bloggers” and in some cases “radio show hosts.”
Anyway, before I go off on a conspiracy diatribe of my own, let’s get back to the subject at hand. Sugar is definitely something that has a lot of arguing points. I have indicated in other blog posts just how huge of an influence sugar has on the populace whether it be in the personal world or the corporate. A lawsuit...
A lawsuit is being fought in the national courts to keep the sugar measurements in accordance to the metric system, merely thanks to the ignorance of the typical American’s knowledge of grams versus teaspoons (by the way, four grams equals a teaspoon). This is mainly being fought to prevent people from knowing how much added sugar is actually being added into our food, for if people could actually visualize the amount in their mind, they might stop buying anything associated with the stuff. Now of course, the new nutritional standards for the next five years are going to mark an interesting change in the diet of the common American, recommending only 50 grams of sugar a day as a good limit (which will be insanely tough!). Let’s just put this into perspective. A 16-ounce bottle of soda will blow that daily requirement away! Technically, 13 ounces will do the trick, but no one sells product in that size. So you can imagine what I must have been going through back in the day, drinking a liter of soda and a full pizza, not to mention whatever else I had been eating that day. Who knows how much sugar I was eating, especially when I would get a hunkering for the one pound bag of Skittles or a few packs of Sour Straws, which basically has sugar caked on the outside of the said product. If anything, this is probably the source of my sensitive teeth, for sugar was something of a staple in my life. Here’s the health info…..a one pound bag of Skittles has 1848 calories and 347 grams of sugar! I would typically eat this a couple hours after devouring a pizza with breadsticks and a 12-ounce can of soda (I cut back on my soda during this time). And I maybe did this once or twice a week. I would mix it up with Starburst and devour a one pound bag, which has approximately 100 pieces. That was a good 275 grams of sugar and 2,000 calories right there! Let me remind you, I did this for years on end, so much so my friends from my old Tucson Citizen days knew to never ask for any piece other than the lemon flavor. They even joked they should come up with liquified Starburst drink (which made my mouth water from the mere mention of it). Candy is such a weird industry in our country that you can even look on Amazon and buy “used” bags of Skittles (whatever the heck that means). Whoever is dumb enough to buy a $12 bag of Skittles is probably in need of an MRI. Heck, my store had the bag on sale for $3 most of the time. http://www.amazon.com/Skittles-Candy-1-Pound-Bag/dp/B004XRJ174
Anyway, I’ve already written about how sugar is nearly the equivalent of cocaine, activating the same pleasure centers and creating the same highs and lows. While this has been a recent discovery, it really doesn’t come as a surprise to anyone. People already know how bad sugar is in regards to our health. It has even been pointed out how bad it can be for the people who actually harvest the stuff, especially in the Dominican Republic where many of the workers live in substandard conditions while just a couple miles away are beautiful resorts for the well moneyed westerners. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1045874/ Typically I avoid refined sugar due to the fact it is not vegan (bone char from dead animals is used to give refined sugar its white color). So when I do add sugar to my occasional coffee, I go with the raw stuff. For the longest time, I pretty much ate only the “real” sugars so to speak, especially after I found out the horrors of aspartame. You see, when I drank 100 gallons of soda a year (that’s a conservative estimate by the way), I was drinking Diet Pepsi. One little side effect I didn't know about the stuff was how it increased appetite, so for the longest time I blamed my heaviness on aspartame. Only the Pepsi Throwbacks and real sugar for me! But by that time, my eating habits were already out of control, so such a minute change wouldn’t have mattered to begin with. I tried other stuff, like Stevia, Truvia, Nutrisweet, Sweet ’n Low and even Splenda. I got hooked on Splenda for quite a while, but eventually gave that up for the raw sugar due to the fact the sweetness would overwhelm me on some days. Now I only gave this stuff up because I was trying in general to reduce my sugar, not because of purported health problems. I really didn't buy into the idea that Stevia and Truvia were any different from their chemically created siblings. But let’s face it, even up to this point in time, all of these replacement additives have been equated to the boogeyman even though science is almost conclusively saying this stuff isn’t bad for us. http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20150127-are-sweeteners-really-bad-for-us
While there is always the caveat side note “more research is needed,” science at the moment seems to be having a hard time finding a link between cancer and artificial sweeteners (which has always been the biggest claim made by anti-artificial sweetener people). A major study that concluded in 2013 that followed 300,000 Europeans exhibited no real link to major health problems, primarily Type 2 diabetes. There is still some health risks of course. A small study did indicate that a huge influx of artificial sweeteners in a person’s diet can alter the gut bacteria. During the course of this strange study, people actually developed a glucose intolerance, primarily due to the change in the stomach’s chemistry. Now of course, this was a small contingent of test subjects that were investing an exorbitant amount, but it still can be applied to today’s issues with obesity. Let’s face it, a lot of people went haywire over the supposed health effects of high fructose corn syrup, which the brain could not really tell the difference. The only reason why we put such a bad name to the stuff was due to the fact it was in EVERYTHING! Some people like myself were able to taste the minute difference in the stuff compared to real cane sugar (Mexican versions of soda use cane sugar, and a kid in a near border town like Tucson would have ample access to the stuff). One thing I could conclude is the taste was a little smoother, and didn’t leave a trail of fire down your throat if someone challenged you to chug the drink. This also seems to be the case with the artificial sweeteners as well. http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/mind-guest-blog/tricking-taste-buds-but-not-the-brain-artificial-sweeteners-change-braine28099s-pleasure-response-to-sweet/
According to some research on the subject, the caloric difference in the fake stuff in comparison to the real thing might be the only difference between them. A small study at San Diego St. University concluded that people may be able to tell the difference between the taste of real and fake sugars, but the mind is a different matter. When the body ingests regular sugar, a cascade of effects starts rolling through the body. Dopamine is released and a feeling of relaxation and pleasure are experienced. I can truly attest to this notion, for I would be extremely ornery once the effect of my early afternoon pizza had worn off, which is why I would rely on the Skittles and the Starburst to help even me out and make me less agitated for the rest of the evening (which would also mess with my sleeping habits as well). Either way, the study indicated that in spite of the lower caloric intake of the fake sugars, the brain still reacted in a similar manner! So take some heed when regarding how much sugar you have in your diet. It doesn’t matter if you use Splenda or raw sugar, for the brain will still react in a similar way.
While fake sugars may not be the boogeyman we might portray them as, sugar is still something of a desperate problem in our society. So much so that a rather interesting documentary subject is about to hit Netflix (made by a foreigner of course, because most Americans seem to listen to an accented authority a little better). http://www.theguardian.com/film/2015/mar/03/that-sugar-film-how-60-days-eating-health-food-led-fatty-liver-disease The whole premise is that filmmaker Damon Gameau partakes in a diet made up of perceived “health” foods for 60 days, and ends up getting fatty liver disease just from the added sugar alone. He takes the premise all over the place, including Kentucky where the term “Mountain Dew Mouth” runs pretty rampant (he interviews a teenager who’s teeth have almost all fallen out!). I think this is why we need to take a long hard look at the sugar problem. While the recommended 50 grams of seems pretty crazy, it might make for at least a good primer to try and seek out, even if it seems impossible. I’ve seen the before and after photos of various fitness models who go on sugar fasts, and it is quite phenomenal when you look at it (though they also work out like crazy, so there is that). Either way, one columnist for the New York Times even suggested we get rid of sugar period, indicating since our brain can’t really tell the difference over the long term and these additives are deemed healthy (until further notice of course), why bother with the real thing anymore? http://www.nytimes.com/2015/07/28/upshot/the-evidence-supports-artificial-sweeteners-over-sugar.html?_r=2&abt=0002&abg=1
It seems kind of silly we even have these types of arguments anymore, but profits are to be made and some people have accepted the truth in regards to lowering their sugar intake. But we as a country are addicted, and strangely enough we are sophisticated enough to distinguish tastes within the fake stuff as well as the real. And I say addicted in a negative way, not a good way. Apparently PepsiCo is going to change their artificial sweetener from Aspartame to Sucralose (Splenda). But they are so scared of backlash, they will still provide the aspartame made formula online (I’m sure for a pretty price). http://www.livescience.com/51667-artificial-sweeteners-new-diet-pepsi-formula.html I haven’t had soda in a good two and half years, and I would never go to such lengths. But on the other hand, addiction is a pretty difficult issue to deal with, and sugar and the so-called substitutes are not being talked about in a proper forum. They are merely be accepted.
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Parsons Training is a Tucson leader in fitness and personal wellness training. Every personal trainer with this company designs and implements effective fitness programs for their clients; these programs serve as the foundation for good health, fitness, and wellness. Additional information about Parsons Training is available at http://www.parsonspersonaltraining.com
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Steve, a Parsons Training Client, went from 400 pounds to Running half-marathons, from lifting pizzas to lifting hundreds of pounds through training with us.