Sugar’s Legacy

According to Stephan Guyenet, Obesity researcher at U. Washington, in the US, we are now consuming 100lbs. of sugar a year apiece. The sugar bowl used to be at the center of every kitchen table. That custom is no longer necessary because most of the prepared products we buy are laced with sugar. Guyenet notes that in 1822, the average American ate the amount of sugar found in one of today’s 12 oz. sodas every 5 DAYS! Now, the average American eats that much sugar every 7 HOURS!

 Here is an incomplete list of forms of sugar that are listed on labels, often in multiples: corn syrup, barley malt, beet sugar, cane juice crystals, caramel, dextrin, dextrose, brown rice syrup, diatase, fructose, glucose, honey, lactose, maltose, sorbitol, mannitol, sucrose, sorghum, turbinado, maltodextrin, molasses, palm, xylose, ….

 Here’s an incomplete list of ailments spawned by excess sugar consumption: obesity, dental caries, gum disease, acid-reflux, diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, several forms of cancer, stroke, liver disease, osteoarthritis, respiratory problems, sleep apnea, kidney problems, atherosclerosis, depression, attention deficit disorder, ….

So much for the bad news. Here’s the good news: Because a growing number of US citizens have requested organic produce, the produce section in supermarkets is gradually expanding to include what we’re willing to buy. Supermarkets now compete with each other to stay ahead of demand. Natural food markets and co-ops are also expanding. Michael Pollan’s caution to avoid packaged goods with more than 5 ingredients listed on the label is inspiring food companies to provide more choices for those who read labels.

 Corn Refiners Association is trying to change the name of ‘corn syrup’ to ‘corn sugar’ because of the connection the public now understands between corn syrup and health problems. Interesting to note that producers are fully aware of the toxic effects of what they encourage people to consume.

 A return to simple, home-cooked food would stop health problems in their tracks. The challenge is to find the time and discipline to do this with so much junk food cheap and right under our noses. The journey begins with that first small step to read labels, or to try some fresh produce, or to buy as much local as available, which encourages local farmers to grow more. It may begin with one special meal a week. The idea is to keep it simple.

 Who knows? We may start expanding our community good news, and enjoy more good health and strength in 2014.

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