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Thursday, July 6

Jump Off the Sugar Bandwagon in July!

July – Jump off the Sugar Bandwagon!
Sugar.  It’s everywhere!  And it’s killing us slowly, like an insipid assassin. It’s an addiction that I daresay most of the world suffers from these days. There are a lot of people that advocate against any and all sugar, and I applaud them for their fortitude and ability, but I’m going to advocate against cutting down on sugars and choosing ‘better’ options.

Sugary Beverages
About a third of sugar that we consume comes from sugary beverages. That is A LOT.  This month, take a look at what you're drinking.  Sugar is sugar - whether it's stevia, high fructose corn syrup, or granulated sugar.  Granted, we do need some sugar, and not all sugars are created equal, but they do all cause inflammation in your body.  

Juice, in particular, is a little bit more insidious and a concern in our excessive sugar intake in our diet.  We think of juice as being healthy, but think of it this way....It would be hard to eat six oranges. But when you make it into juice, it becomes easier to consume what could have been a good substance, but in excess.

In the food arena, minimize your intake of processed foods, which usually have added sugars.  Also, steer clear of low-fat and fat-free foods --- how do you think they make them taste edible?  Sugar. 

Sugary Fruits 
In the rush to avoid sugar, many people now are avoiding fruits.  They believe that because added sugars are bad, the same must apply to fruits, which also contain fructose.  However… this is completely wrong, because fructose is only harmful in large amounts and it is almost impossible to overeat fructose by eating fruit.

Fruits are loaded with fiber and water, and have significant chewing resistance.  For this reason, most fruits (like apples) take a while to eat and digest, meaning that the fructose hits the liver slowly.  You want that extra fiber (adding Metamucil to a glass of juice will not create the same effect in your body!), and it helps your digestive tract.

 In the fruit hierarchy, choose fresh fruit, then dried fruit, with sweetened dried fruit a distant third, and juice in fourth place.

Many of the fruit juices on the market aren’t even “real” fruit juices. They consist of water, mixed with some sort of concentrate and a whole bunch of added sugar. But even if you get 100% real fruit juice, it is still a bad idea.  There is actually a lot of sugar in fruit juice, about as much as a sugar-sweetened beverage, but  there is no fiber and chewing resistance to slow down consumption, making it very easy to consume a large amount of sugar in a short period of time.
Sugary Grains
In the rush to avoid sugars, grains have gotten 
a bad rap.  While processed grains are generally best-avoided, there are still many reasons to choose whole grains.

The benefits of whole grains most documented by repeated studies include:
  • stroke risk reduced 30-36%
  • type 2 diabetes risk reduced 21-30%
  • heart disease risk reduced 25-28%
  • better weight maintenance
  • Other benefits indicated by recent studies include:
  • reduced risk of asthma
  • healthier carotid arteries
  • reduction of inflammatory disease risk
  • lower risk of colorectal cancer
  • healthier blood pressure levels
  • less gum disease and tooth loss
Choose foods that name one of the following whole-grain ingredients first on the label’s ingredient list:
  • brown rice
  • buckwheat
  • millet
  • oatmeal
  • quinoa
  • rolled oats
  • whole-grain barley
  • whole-grain corn
  • whole-grain sorghum
  • whole-grain triticale
  • whole oats
  • whole rye
  • whole wheat
  • wild rice
What to look for on the food label:
1.   Foods labeled with the words "multi-grain," "stone-ground," "100% wheat," "cracked wheat," "seven-grain," or "bran" are usually not whole-grain products.
2.   Color is not an indication of a whole grain. Bread can be brown because of molasses or other added ingredients. Read the ingredient list to see if it is a whole grain.
3.   Use the Nutrition Facts label and choose whole grain products with a higher % Daily Value (% DV) for fiber. Many, but not all, whole grain products are good or excellent sources of fiber.
4.   Read the food label’s ingredient list. Look for terms that indicate added sugars (such as sucrose, high-fructose corn syrup, honey, malt syrup, maple syrup, molasses, or raw sugar) that add extra calories. Choose foods with fewer added sugars.
5.   Most sodium in the food supply comes from packaged foods. Similar packaged foods can vary widely in sodium content, including breads. Use the Nutrition Facts label to choose foods with a lower % DV for sodium. Foods with less than 140 mg sodium per serving can be labeled as low sodium foods. Claims such as “low in sodium” or “very low in sodium” on the front of the food label can help you identify foods that contain less salt (or sodium).

Sugary Treats 
You aim to eat right and exercise most of the time, but we all stray from our healthy path every once in a while . . . and it’s a good thing.  When the holidays come up, and all those yummy family feasts, you can be sure that more people will be indulging than not….

Allowing yourself indulgences as an exception, rather than the rule, will make you happier in the long run and make you more apt to stick to your diet.  So go ahead, and enjoy that one piece of pie!!
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