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Sugar and Food Labels: What to Look For

Lifestyle & Wellness | School of Metabolic Health

Today we're going to talk about added sugars and food labels, and what to look for. We consume a lot of sugar as Americans, and it really tripled within the last 60 years as processed food became more prevalent.

We eat about three to three and a half pounds of sugar per week. That's a lot of sugar.

Focusing on sugar is important because it is very easy to eat within our food system, especially if you're eating processed foods, and it leads to a lot of issues with our bodies, particularly diabetes, cancer, heart disease, weight gain, high blood pressure, etc.

The more we limit sugar, the better off we are going to be.

What is sugar? 

Sugar is a very simple molecule. When you ingest and then digest sugar, it instantly goes into the bloodstream. We get that dopamine high in our brain. That's why we love to eat sugar and people crave it because there's this neurotransmitter thing going on that says wow, this tastes so good.

But in our bloodstream, our blood sugar goes up, and then our pancreas works really hard to get our blood sugar down. All that insulin is being pumped out and that's where insulin resistance comes in if we wear out our pancreas.

What to look for on food labels

The best thing to do when you're looking at food labels is to look for anything that ends in -ose.

Carbohydrates actually are sugars, but they come in different forms: complex and simple. What we're talking about here are simple sugars, like table sugar, cane syrup, and molasses.

I'm going to read off several of these because it is a very long list. But mainly look for -ose. That's the first thing.

Then we have corn sweetener, corn syrup, fruit juice concentrates, invert sugar, high fructose corn syrup, malt syrup, Florida Crystals, corn syrup solids, malt syrup, barley malt, agave nectar, caramel treacle, molasses, carob syrup. You can find additional names for sugars online.

The food industry tries to hide them, so you have to pay attention to food labels.

The best advice that I can give you is to stay away from processed foods. If we eat more of a whole food diet and focus on vegetables and fruits and whole grains and proteins, food items that have one ingredient in them, then we're going to be a lot better off rather than getting the box foods and trying to break down what's in them.

Focus on eating a whole food diet, limit your processed foods and you will definitely eat a lot less sugar.

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