Monday, April 25, 2011

Could Sugar Really Be TOXIC?

I thought the day after Easter our collective sugar comas might be a good day to tackle this topic. I read a really interesting article on the NY Times website recently about the effect sugar has on our bodies. In particular, the effect that fructose has on our bodies. While a lot of us are aware of the negative publicity high-fructose corn sugar gets, I was certainly not aware that sucrose (table sugar) was comprised of 50% fructose. The article links to a 90 minute lecture on sugar. If you're like me, the thought of a lecture on anything science related scares the bajeezus out of you. So 90 minutes of it? This slide:


looks to me exactly like this slide:



Believe it or not, the speaker (Dr. Robert Lustig) manages to cater this lecture to even those without a shred of scientific knowledge (ME!) He discusses the impact of sugar on our country and specifically on  children. He tells of how it truly can be a poison in our body, causing metabolic syndrome which ultimately leads to heart problems, obesity, and diabetes. He also said that even those among us who are not overweight can still have a fatty liver, caused by too much sugar. This was a wake-up call for me because I tend to think that since I'm not obese I can avoid health problems. Let's be honest though, I may have a slight addiction to sugar.


A few bloggers have decided to have a sugar fast. Check them out if you want to learn more about them:

Rachelle at Running for Trevor
Stef at Run on Riot

I decided to join them for a week and see how I do. I'm realizing it's almost impossible to avoid all sugars. I will include naturally occurring sugars such as those in fruit, but only IN the fruit--not processed foods sweetened with brown rice syrup or beet sugar.  I would like to see if it makes an impact on how I feel and how my workouts go. I've already replaced my standby protein bars with a mix of shredded wheat, plain protein powder, and organic peanut butter. Topped with flax seeds, it was actually really great!

I will NOT be attempting this to lose weight. Since I'll be eating less candy and treats, I'll make sure to compensate with healthy foods instead. This may or may not be a long term plan, but I'm definitely looking at it as an experiment.

Have you ever attempted to live without sugar? Will you join me for a week?
I've tried "healthy eating" of course, but usually with the goal of fewer calories. This is the first time I'll attempt to keep my calories the same but replace sugar with healthy foods. 


Where are some surprising places you find sugar? (Check your food cabinets!)
Of course I expect it to be in a lot of things, but I'm surprised by JUST how prevalent it is in our food supply. Even in salty things (like hubby's mac and cheese--that's not sweet at all!)




***Anyone interested in the ongoing building of our house? Check out my hubby's blog on the progress being made. As of today we have a foundation, woo-hoo!***

38 comments:

  1. Just found your blog...

    I've said it before, and I'll say it again: I think it would kill me.

    I manage to avoid eating sugar in most of the foods I eat (ie. breads, cereals, etc.) and try to stick with the lowest added sugar brands of yogurt and snack bars and all that fun stuff.

    But when it comes to a treat, an apple's not gonna cut it for me.

    I'm excited to read about all of your adventures in sugar-less eating, though. I'd love to try it...I just don't know if I have the guts!

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  2. A good friend of mine is a clean eater now. About a year or so ago she pinpointed sugar as the culprit to her feeling bad all the time. She cut out all sugar (except in fruit) and feels so much better. She had severe headaches and chronic fatigue. No more. She loves to bake, so she still uses brown rice syrup as a sweetener and that doesn't affect her. I find it all very interesting.

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  3. very interesting! i'll be interested to see how your body reacts / improves to the change in diet.
    i avoid most foods that have added sugar - except i'm guilty when it comes to coffee. and my mother in law's oatmeal cookies. yikes.

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  4. I really try to live by the everything in moderation saying. Now that I have kids I feel it's the best approach, I know I can't keep my 3 yr old off sugar but a dumdum is a lot less scary to me than a can of soda or bag of skittles.

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  5. Yes, I've tried it and I lost weight fast...it just automatically fell off. I read a book not to long ago but I can't remember the name, :/ I'll come back with it if I remember, it was great! Crazy how this country has changed just in the last 20 years or so...not good!!

    runningtobeskinny.com

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  6. Good luck on the sugar fast, unfortunately after giving up meat for Lent, I'm done with food challenges for a while lol
    Maybe another time!

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  7. ahhhhhh!!! everyone is giving up sugar and it is making me SO anxious. haha. I just don't think I can do it. Nope. Sorry. I promise to be super supportive though! I have always known that I love sweets so I try to reduce my binge on sugar by "scheduling" them into my day. That way I can focus on eating healthy throughout the other parts of the day because I know I will get my sweets later. I have also made an effort to find lower cal sweets that feed my sweet tooth but are not killing me in calories. Dont know if that helps but it keeps me happy! GOOD LUCK!

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  8. The NYT article confuses me - it addresses the body's reaction to starches, but not fruit. I am really curious about how fruit figures into this, though I'd be unwilling to give up fruit unless I found out that I personally was highly allergic to something specific.

    I generally only get added sugar from dark chocolate - and in the really good stuff, there's only a bit of added sugar :)

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  9. @ Victoria-- the issue of fruit is addressed in the video , thankfully--this was a big concern of mine too! Dr. Lustig says that the fructose found in fruit comes with fiber, which reduces the effect. The example of sugar cane was given. It does taste sweet, but the amount of fiber you would consume gnawing a piece of sugar cane with provide you with the fiber to counteract the fructose. Same with an apple or any other fruit. I'm not a convert, I'm just learning and experimenting! A life without sweets would be a sad one indeed...
    :)

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  10. Sugar is the root of all evil in my book. 50 lbs ago I was a sugar-aholic. I'm much better now but still fall into bad cycles.
    As long as I stay away from processed food/cookies, etc, I do well. I've been really good for the last 4-5 weeks on my veggie-centric initiative and feel loads better...less inflamed, more energy. But this weekend I've slipped off the sugar slope. Need to regain my footing!
    Good luck!

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  11. I'm so interested in this. I would love to give up sugar. I am so addicted! You really have me thinking now!

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  12. oh i'm so tempted! except i can't stop thinking about those starburst hidden in my desk at work. hmmmm.... i know that i need it.... i'll get back to you :) maybe i'll give my starburst away tomorrow.... i'm sure my students would love that. but wouldn't that be defeating the purpose? feeding sugar to students? argh. just can't win!!!

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  13. I went without sugar for 3 months last year. When you get all that out of your system, is really isn't bad at all. I was fine the first week or so, then I wanted sugar really bad for a few days, but once I made it past that, it was clear sailing! Good luck! You can totally hack it!

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  14. Wow-- really interesting! Good luck lady can't wait to hear all about it!

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  15. I think sugar can be toxic and I have no interest to cut it out completely. I just love it to much. I'm sure great things come to those who can do it, but I think my husband would divorce me if I went through withdraws. As long as you don't over do it, which so many people do, then you should be ok.

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  16. I'll be interested to hear your experience with this. I honestly don't give it that much thought, even though I should. I don't eat a TON of candy in my normal life, but I know there's so much hidden sugar out there.

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  17. Thanks for the link! This is really interesting. I'm very excited to hear how this goes!!

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  18. You're a stronger woman than I am! There is NO way I could give up sugar, fatty liver or not!

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  19. Good luck! I tried cutting back on added sugar and it was so hard. I am currently trying to lay off the sweets, and so far have consumed like 8 servings of fruit a day just to get my sugar intake. I'm like a hard core addict!

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  20. Wow! I'm impressed that you're gonna do this (as I'm eating a cupcake and reeses peanut butter egg - at the same time!) I do believe that I need to cut back on sugar, but I think I'm gonna wait to do that until... well, I don't know when ;)
    Good luck!

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  21. Yay! I am so excited you are doing the sugar fast. I am really hoping to turn this into a long term thing but like you said it really is in EVERYTHING! I was dying today when I realized how much sugar is in things you would think have no sugar.

    I am going to start small like I said and hopefully build my up to eliminating it completely. Have a great week!

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  22. good luck girl! you are way tougher than me.. pastries are the only sacrifice i can make this week. :) let us know if you feel better afterward and can be convincing enough that i give it a try... (that would take alot of convincing though lol)

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  23. I read the same article, and was kind of scared at first. It's pretty daunting to think that sugar may actually be poisoning you. But, I didn't like that the article doesn't stipulate how much sugar is unhealthy.

    I'd definitely try completely eliminating sugar for a week! I've just gotta finish the soymilk in my fridge first :P

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  24. This was a very interesting read. I actually just completed something very similar to what you are doing now and dispite what others may think, it is possible. I gave up baking (which i love) and sweets for Lent (40days).

    It was the last week that killed me!

    Good luck!

    Please visit my blog if you want to read more about that, and if you feel like being tempted!!!

    Cheers,
    Yasmin

    www.tickle-your-tastebuds.blogspot.com

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  25. Very interesting! I definitely agree that just because someone might be thin\not obese that doesn't mean that they can avoid health issues. Every once in a while I'll go a week or two without sweets - it helps keep things in perspective sometimes!

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  26. A sugar fast? Eeek! I did 3 weeks of that when I did the Crazy Sexy Diet cleanse... it was easier than I thought it would be but boy, was I cranky about it!

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  27. I just came across your blog, and it is so funny that you would post an article about sugar! I haven't eaten any sugar for 4 (almost 5!) I feel so great, and I really do believe sugar is a poison. If you ever need any help on the sugar-free fast, feel free to email me!

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  28. Hmmm...I'm not sure I can do a week without sugar, but this is an interesting article! I know that I feel a lot better when I eat less processed foods and that includes less sugar!
    Also, thank you for reading and commenting on my blog - seriously it's so awesome to always get your feedback!

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  29. I'm on my sugar fast too! I'm on day 2 and already feel better. I've really just been eating fruit and it satisfies my cravings the same way without giving me a sugar headache! I went on a complete "eat clean" lifestyle change one summer and it felt so good. I fell out of it after a few months when a jar of nutella stared me in the face but I think it's time to go back. This last weekend just confirmed it for me. SO I'm with you completely!!!

    And PS - I love reading your comments every day. They make me smile :) Thank you!

    And PPS - you and hubby are beautiful!

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  30. PPPS - Just added your blog to my "blogs i love" page ;)

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  31. great topic. i am totally suffering from a sugar hangover after the weekend. ahha

    good luck with ur challenge. i think that is totally cool and u will do great. cant wait to see how u do.

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  32. congrats on the foundation!!!!

    haha i am TOTALLY sugar hungover. I need to just eat LESS sugar, maybe only once a day?? that would be like a fast for me :) I'll try your sugar fast this week too!! good luck!

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  33. I had a good friend who did body building and she avoided sugar like the plague when she was training. I think she literally only ate ground beef and boiled chicken! I was always so jealous of her ability to not eat sugar but I honestly don't think I could ever do it! UGH

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  34. Yikes, good luck! I really should be doing this, but am so very, very scared at the notion of going without my cocoa puffs.

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  35. I love u and hate u for posting this ;)

    When i had a bit of disordered eating, i though i would die if sugar even touched me. Sad.

    I still dont eat refined sugar but pass over the cane any day ;)

    xo

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  36. I think my husband watched that same lecture! I am to terrified to watch it because I don't think I'm strong enough to give up candy. Well maybe I will after I finish all of the candy leftover from Easter. :)

    Good luck with your experiment!

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  37. I am finally officially stalking you!! YAY for the sugar fast! I am so glad you are on board! Thanks for the shout out!

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  38. Totally agree with all of this! It is so sad how many children have diabetes and are overweight. I think processed foods also play a huge role! How is the "sugar watch" journey going??

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