May 2013 | Article Archives
The Sugar Problem
By Eva Cwynar
The single largest source of calories for Americans comes from sugar— and often from high fructose corn syrup. However, it wasn’t always so.
• In 1700, the average person consumed about 4 pounds of sugar per year.
• In 1800, the average person consumed about 18 pounds of sugar per year.
• By 1900, individual consumption had risen to 90 pounds of sugar per year.
• In 2009, more than 50 percent of all Americans were consuming half a pound of sugar per day. That’s 180 pounds per year.
Sugar is one of the primary ingredients in soft drinks, fruit juices, sports drinks, and hidden in almost all processed foods—from bologna to pretzels to Worcestershire sauce to cheese spread. Even many infant formulas have the sugar equivalent of one can of Coca-Cola, so babies are being metabolically poisoned from day one if taking formula.
No wonder there is an obesity epidemic in this country.
Today, 32 percent of Americans are obese and an additional one-third are overweight. Compare that to 1890, when a survey of white males in their fifties revealed an obesity rate of just 3.4 percent. In 1975, the obesity rate in America had reached 15 percent, and since then it has doubled.
Carrying excess weight increases your risk for conditions such as heart disease, kidney disease and diabetes.
In 1893, there were fewer than three cases of diabetes per 100,000 people in the United States. Today, diabetes strikes almost 8,000 out of every 100,000 people.
You don't have to be a physician or a scientist to notice America's expanding waistline. All you have to do is stroll through a shopping mall or a schoolyard, or perhaps glance in the mirror.
What to do?
For starters, you can cut down on things like pre-sweetened breakfast cereals, eat more fruit and drink unsweetened fruit juices to quench any sugar cravings. Read labels more consciously and look for where sugar falls in the ingredient list.
Also try sugar substitutes like Xylitol. Also known as birch sugar, this naturally-occurring sweet compound is found in fruits and vegetables. It doesn’t have any of the bad associated with sugar and also boasts a range of health benefits. Because Xylitol is completely natural, it is devoid of the undesirable side effects seen with other artificial sweeteners. It doesn’t feed yeast and has a sweet, clean, cool taste. It also won’t sabotage your mood and energy levels like sugar can.
The benefits of Xylitol include:
• Decreasing the incidence of dental issues
• Fighting plaque buildup and neutralizing plaque acids
• Reducing rates of ear infections in children
• Helping promote bone health
When you eat Xylitol instead of sugar, part of it is gradually metabolized into glucose in the liver so it won’t cause blood sugar extremes. It passes on to the large intestine where it is converted into short chain fatty acids that nourish the wall of the large intestine. It also shows promise for diabetics in that it scores a 7 out of 100 on the glycemic index which mean it has a minimal impact on blood sugar and insulin levels.For more information, visit the Xylitol page on our web site.
Get some sleep. It could save your life.
Sleeping well is vital for physical, mental and emotional health. But there has been a gradual reduction in the average amount of sleep people get, with research showing that one person in five feels unusually tired and one in ten has prolonged fatigue.
If you sleep less than six hours a night and have disturbed sleep, you stand a 48 per cent greater chance of developing or dying from heart disease and a 15 per cent greater chance of developing or dying from a stroke, according to a study from the University of Warwick.
According to new research from Harvard Medical School, men over 65 who spend little time in deep sleep are at particularly high risk of developing high blood pressure. A study of 784 patients, published in the journal Hypertension, found that high blood pressure increases the risk of heart attack, stroke and other health problems.
Lack of sleep causes stress on the body, causing the heart to beat faster. Getting too much sleep – more than nine hours at a time – may also be an indicator of illness, including cardiovascular disease.
Getting better sleep might also help in the battle against obesity. One study of 472 obese people, published in the International Journal of Obesity, involved participants eating 500 fewer calories per day, along with exercise most days. Those getting too little or too much sleep were less likely to have lost weight over a six-month period.
Poor sleep can even lead to suicide. The University of Michigan found that people with two or more symptoms of insomnia were 2.6 times more likely to report a suicide attempt. Meanwhile, Columbia University Medical Centre in New York found that 12 to 18-year-olds who went to bed after midnight were 20 per cent more likely to think about suicide than those whose bedtime was 10 pm or earlier, while those who had less than five hours sleep a night had a 48 per cent higher risk of suicidal thoughts compared with those who had eight hours of sleep.
Lack of sleep might even lead to type 2 diabetes. A stepping stone to the condition, known as impaired fasting glucose, occurs when blood sugar levels are too high, but not high enough to constitute a diagnosis of diabetes. Researchers from the University of Buffalo in New York, found that those who slept less than six hours a night during the working week were 4.6 times more likely to develop impaired fasting glucose than those sleeping six to eight hours per night.
• Going to bed and getting up at roughly the same time helps program your body to sleep better.
• A clutter-free bedroom –no television or computers – is essential for rest.
• Exercise helps contribute to restful nights, but it has the opposite effect if done near bedtime – except for sex, which is actually conducive to sleep.
• Sleep for seven to eight hours at a time.
• If your mattress is more than a decade old, you should think about replacing it as a poor quality mattress could seriously affect your sleep.