Is sugar a drug is the question I have heard quite a bit about in the past few days. Jen over at From Fat To Finish Line sent me an email with a link to a 60 Minutes report done by Dr Sanjay Gupta. This video was interesting in how it discussed how sugar is a drug. How sugar is toxic. There were Doctors and Dietitians discussing how the brain is pleasured by sugar similar to the way it is pleasured by drugs like cocaine.
The introduction to the video is how America is addicted to ADDED sugars and how that is plunging America into a health crisis. From what I have read I can say that I don’t disagree with this. I believe that sugar is addictive and that companies put sugar into just about everything because they know that it will create a desire to buy more. In the end it is about the bottom line and companies are not here to help us get healthy, but instead to make a profit. Look at the label of just about anything and you will see sugar in it. It can be addictive no doubt, but the video starts out by saying that table sugar, honey and maple syrup are BAD FOODS.
Later on in the video they describe ADDED SUGARS as those that need to be curtailed and this is where I think a lot of confusion comes from. How is honey and maple syrup a bad food but we are to cut back on ADDED sugars? Can you see where my confusion is? Honey has one ingredient and that is HONEY. Maple Syrup has one ingredient sap from the Maple tree. Of course honey and maple syrup can be made with added sugar which is why you purchase locally grown honey and those that are certified (you can read about that here.) With Maple Syrup be sure to purchase PURE Maple Syrup and you will get just that and nothing that is a corn-syrup imitation. The problem is the video doesn’t make a statement regarding the difference and thus the confusion can set in. I was confused because I ran to my pantry to see how much sugar I was consuming in my 1 tablespoon of honey.
Of course the video does point out that nearly all processed food has hidden sugars. It showcases yogurt, bread, pasta sauces and peanut butter. As you know I have gone out and made my own bread and almond butter. I also make my own sauce for my pasta. I do consume So Delicious Coconut Milk Yogurt which has evaporated cane juice. Now this sugar is described as ‘healthy alternative’ in this article because it does not undergo the same degree of processing that refined sugar does. That sure sounds like an added sugar to me, and since this is my body I am going to classify it that way. This means that 32 calories are from added sugars in a 4oz serving of this yogurt.
You may be asking yourself why do I care about the calories from added sugars. The answer is that the video goes into great detail as to how many calories a person should limit their added sugars to. For men it is 150 calories per day, and for women it is 100 calories. These numbers come from Dr Lisig and was chosen because well I don’t know. He wrote it in a paper but does not discuss why he came up with these numbers. Why was this not pointed out? I’m not sure. That being said Dr Gupta points out that the amounts are equivalent to less than a can of soda. This is a good thing in my opinion but I would still like some factual information as to why those numbers came up.
After watching the video I have taken up the process of looking at the nutritional label from a different perspective. I’m looking at ingredients but I am now calculating the number of calories from sugar, but only IF it is not from a natural source. That means that I am not counting honey as an added sugar. From my calculations I am below the 150 calories per day. What does this mean for my future? I guess it means that I am not addicted to sugar and probably will not develop Type II diabetes or be obese thus I am not a drag on the American health care system (bike crash ER visit aside.)
If you are trying to figure out how many calories are from added sugars in your food and are scratching your head……stop and let me help you. I spent some time trying to figure this out because the label shows Sugar in grams. Well grams are not calories and you can’t just divide the number of grams in sugar by the number of carbohydrates and multiply by the fat grams and divide by protein grams. What I found out is that you multiply the number of grams of sugar by 4 to get the number of calories. Fairly simple.
You can watch the entire video here: