Some Important Facts Regarding Your Daily Sugar Intake
We all know that eating too much sugar is bad for our health, but what we often don't know is what the maximum or allowable daily sugar intake ought to be. Some might say the correct answer is zero grams per day, but unless one is on a diet of bread and water, it would be a hard goal to meet. Even bread more often than not has some sugar in it.
Why We Need To Have Some Sugar
The truth is, we need sugar to survive. That fact shouldn't be taken as a license to load up on sugar-laden breakfast cereals or rich pastries however. We get ample amounts of the sugar we need to survive in the natural foods we eat, especially in fruits. Our body converts the sugars that are found in fruits, and in some other natural foods as well, into glucose. Glucose is the fuel that keeps us going. The starches that are found in most vegetables are also used as fuel, after the body has first converted them into sugar, and then into glucose. When we follow what would be considered a healthy diet, and don't overeat, we seldom run the risk of exceeding the recommended daily limit. When we see figures relating to what our recommended maximum daily sugar intake should be, those figures are addressing the sugars found in natural foods. It's when we add pure sugar to our diet by putting it on our cereal, or putting it in our coffee, or by drinking a soft drink, that we run the risk exceeding the recommended daily sugar intake.
How Many Grams In A Teaspoon?
When looking at our typical daily diet, it's not easy to calculate how many grams of sugar we're ingesting. In fact, the calculation is well nigh impossible, unless you're a student of nutrition. The recommended maximum for men, women and children is given as 36 grams, 20 grams, and 12 grams, respectively. A teaspoon of sugar is approximately 4 grams. A child then should not be allowed to have more than 3 teaspoons of sugar daily, which seems like a lot, but a 12-ounce soft drink can contain upwards to 40 grams, or 10 teaspoons of sugar, 3 times more than a child should have. This is in addition to the sugar contained in the healthy food a child normally eats.
There are a couple of things that happen in the body when we regularly take in too much sugar, and neither of them are particularly good for us. As mentioned previously, the starches we eat are first converted into sugar, which in turn is converted into glucose. If there is already a sufficient amount of glucose in the blood stream, the body stops converting starch into sugar, and instead converts it into fat. The fat is then stored for use as a source of fuel at a later time. If starches continue to be stored as fat, and that fat is not converted back into fuel, it accumulates, and we start gaining weight. The other thing that can happen is this. When we overload on sugar, our pancreas releases insulin, which acts to lower the glucose level in the blood. If the insulin lowers the glucose level too much, our body senses a need for more fuel, and we get hungry. Thus, when we eat too much sugar, there is a tendency to soon want to eat more. We then get into a vicious cycle, which leads to weight gain, and often to other problems as well. In that respect, sugar can be said to have an addictive property.
Our body is constantly trying to regulate the amount of glucose in the blood, and in a healthy person, it is usually successful in doing so. If we suddenly overload on sugar, or suddenly try to drastically reduce it in our diet, the body's regulatory mechanism can go haywire. We usually soon feel the effects in either case, but especially when the blood sugar level is allowed to get too low. If we constantly allow our consumption of sugar to vary from one extreme to another, it will eventually take a toll on our health.
Way Too Many Teaspoons Of Sugar
Americans are getting more obese with each passing year. That should come as no surprise, since nutritional experts believe the average American adult consumes roughly 35 teaspoons of sugar per day, well over 3 times the maximum amount that should be taken in. The solution is not to try to eliminate sugar from the diet completely. As we've seen, that would be impossible, and could be unhealthy as well. There are many different steps that can be taken to work towards keeping our daily sugar intake within reasonable limits, and it's best to go about it slowly. Cutting down on sugar can be a bit like quitting smoking. Attempting to go cold turkey seldom works, and it can be hard on our system, especially when it doesn't work and we try to do it again and again.
Sugar isn't all bad, but too much certainly can be. Moderation is the key.