You may have read in the headlines recently that companies are going to have to distinguish between the sugars that are naturally occurring in a product and the sugars that are added in. It’s not new news, but about 70% of all things you find in the supermarket have added sugar. This includes sauces, soups, fruit juices, pizza, and even meat products. I was surprised to find that there’s even sugar and iodized salt. The sugar is used to bind the iodine, even if this amount is very small. Remember that iodized salt is stripped of its natural minerals, more than 70 of them.

What is “added sugar” anyway?

You may see the words like apple juice concentrate, beet sugar, dry sweet, edible lactose, granulated sugar, honey-baked, maltose, mizu-ame, sorghum, sugar beet, turbinado sugar, and the list goes on. In order for any of these to become added sugar, they have to go through some chemical process that extracts them from whatever it is they come from. Although the sugar may be natural as it comes from the ground or tree, but what comes out is quite unnatural. All of the sugars must be manipulated chemically in one way or another with alcohols, acetone’s, enzymes and other chemical reactions that deliver a product that can be added to foods and also stored in a container for shipping.

Corn syrup (corn sugar) is made from processing corn. High fructose corn syrup arises when corn syrup is treated with an enzyme called glucose isomerase (one example). This converts glucose molecules into fructose molecules. High fructose corn syrup has a much longer shelf life than untreated corn syrup. Which is why high fructose corn syrup is added to soft drinks and other food products that stay on the shelves for long periods of time. Even back in the 70s when high fructose corn syrup was first made. There was much concern about the digestibility of the synthesized sugars. But marketing and ad campaigns showed happy cobs of corn dancing around telling us that corn sugar was no different than any other sugar. I was at a medical conference some years ago, and a very renowned dietitian who had written many books was speaking. And I asked her the question, “are you concerned about high fructose corn syrup in sports drinks?” And her reply was that there is no difference between high fructose corn syrup and natural sugar.

In a chemical sense, sugar is sugar. But to the digestive tract they are very different things. Think of added sugar as a mainline of glucose. Processed sugar is not digested at the same rate as sugar that has to be extracted from natural sources such as plants and fruits. A fair comparison would be an apple, which releases some sugar immediately, but over a period of time versus concentrated apple juice. Concentrated apple juice is made by extracting sugar from the apples, removing the fiber and removing water. It is a far cry from an apple. The sugar in it quickly moves to the bloodstream, and an alarming amount of it can be consumed in a short period of time. A small 5-year-old child can drink one juice, and quickly consume 50 g of sugar. And realize that at any given time in the human body we hold 1 teaspoon of sugar in our blood (≈5 g)! And the mind-boggling thing is that we are giving these amounts of sugar to small children.

A good example is an artificial sweetener called Neotame, is 10,000 times as sweet as sugar. Just ask yourself why do we actually need a chemical like this? This is probably a good place to start. Another great example is Chobani Greek yogurt. While shopping in our “healthy” supermarkets, we see these types of brands that are supposed to be better than the alternative. If you educate yourself just a little, you’ll see that the amount of added sugar, especially the yogurts made for kids, is tremendous.

Bottles of salad dressing are even worse than pasta sources for the amounts of sugar that exist in them. If you get one thing from this article, consider making your own salad dressings. Go to the local supermarket or health food store and try to find a brand of bread that doesn’t add sugar, honey, or some other sugar additive. Even your local Trader Joe’s, you’ll find sugar in the pizza. Folks, pizza is not supposed to be cake. It is a sad state of affairs that most people don’t care that they are being fed food that makes them want to consume even more sugar. Trust me when I say there is a science to feeding humans certain amounts and types of sugar that switch their brains into wanting more. Every one of us has seen the 4 and 5-year-old kids already overweight with parents who are buying soda, chips, cookies, ice cream to be consumed on a daily basis. In the hospital’s we are not seen people with pneumonia or other diseases that used to be common. But now the major disease in most hospital’s type II diabetes.

If you want to avoid added sugar, it starts with educating yourself and don’t buy processed food. Those convenient little cartons that save you 15 minutes here and there, that’s what’s really hurting you. Adding sugar and fat to food is not something new. Even 100 years ago home-cooked meals contained added sugar.

It’s understandable, that in our modern society we are often just too burned out from work to come home and make a dinner. This is one reason these newer super healthy supermarkets such as Whole Foods are so successful. Try buying a can of organic soup one day and you’ll find that it has added sugar. Keep it simple, try eating fresh meat, eggs, fish, vegetables and fruit. There is no added sugar, and the salt and butter you add yourself do not approach the sodium that you find in processed foods.

Another good place to start is your local Starbucks. Just look at the stacks of available pastries, and all of them are easily over 300 calories a pop in addition to the sweetened drink you order. Just think about it, Starbucks coffee is actually a powerful over roasted flavor that prohibits enjoying the subtleties and other coffee beans and how their roasted. It just gives more evidence that our brains are over sensitized to what real foods should taste like.

What I have always found strange about the United States, is how different than say France, in our seemingly endless need to fill families with pure junk. The so-called “kid’s meals” at restaurants are often some unhealthy combination of starch, salt, fat, and sugar in shocking amounts. For what I see in Europe, these things are eaten as well but less often. And that’s not to say obesity is a problem solely regulated to the United States, it’s becoming a problem in Europe and Australia as well. Italy has a higher obesity rate than it had 20 years ago.

Today we know that mainlining fructose in our bodies is causing things like fatty liver disease. In fact, the just cause of liver disease in today’s society is fatty liver. And when you have seen an 11-year-old child on the transplant list because of fatty liver disease, mostly from consuming artificial sugars, it is truly something that is hard to stomach.

Anyone who doesn’t know that the industrial food they shovel into themselves and their kids contains ponds of highly processed sugar are willfully ignorant. One thing that I can tell you from personal experience is that when you rid your diet of added sugar for a while, adding cinnamon and other substitutes for sugar actually heighten your senses.

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