The biggest health challenges we face in America today are directly related to sugar consumption. The sweet stuff is a huge contributing factor to the obesity and diabetes epidemic our country is facing and every day young children are being diagnosed with what was once called “Adult-Onset” Diabetes. Just 200 years ago the average American consumed 2 pounds of sugar per year. It is estimated that we now eat an average of 160 pounds per year, an unbelievable statistic that directly related to our rapid decline in health as a nation.

Here are just a few ways refined sugar is negatively affecting your health:

Insulin resistance and diabetes: Eating foods that contain refined sugar triggers a significant spike in blood sugar levels, which results in the release of insulin. These rapid fluctuations over time can lead to insulin resistance and eventually diabetes.

Heart disease: Research shows that people who consume sugary beverages and snacks tend to have higher blood triglycerides and C-reactive protein levels; both factors related to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease.
Obesity: Refined sugar is high on the glycemic index causing the release of excess insulin into the body. Insulin causes energy to be stored in fat cells, which can lead to obesity.

Immune system: Consuming too much sugar suppresses immune system cells responsible for attacking bacteria. This effect continues for at least a few hours after consuming sugary foods and drinks.

Premature aging: Excess sugar can trigger a process called “glycation” which can accelerate skin aging by decreasing its supply of elastin and collagen; this shows up on the skin’s surface as wrinkles, sagginess, and a loss of radiance.

Highly addictive: According to brain scans, sugar is as addictive as cocaine. It causes a euphoric effect that triggers dopamine, the chemical that controls pleasure in the brain. Sugar’s addictive nature can also be attributed to the fact that suddenly cutting it out of your diet can cause withdrawal symptoms such as headache, mood swings, cravings, and fatigue.

The vast majority of sugar consumed comes from soft drinks and other sweetened beverages. Take a peek at some of the shocking numbers below, including some surprising places that sugar is hiding.

It’s in your coffee….
Venti Mocha Frappuccino from Starbucks

Sugar: 79 grams

Your “healthy” smoothie…
Original Banana Berry Smoothie from Jamba Juice

Sugar: 82 grams

Your whole grain cereal…
1 cup of Quaker Granola; Oats, honey & raisin

Sugar: 30 grams *Most people have a portion equivalent to 2-3 cups.

Your “light” lunch…
Apple Pecan Grilled Chicken Salad from Wendy’s

Sugar: 36 grams

Freedom from sugar addiction
Ok, so enough of the gloom and doom, I’m here to offer a solution to your sugar addiction. Let me first admit that I was born with a sweet tooth and to this day love dessert, chocolate in particular! However, I have learned strategies that have helped me tremendously and I’d like to share them with you. Next week I will be debuting my my 10-day sugar cleanse that is desinged to rid you of your sweet tooth for good! Stay tuned for details. 😉

In the meantime, I’d love to hear what your biggest sugar struggle is. Use the comment section below to share!