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I think its important to take the time to post an informative article on the dangers of sugar. After recently seeing the film Fed Up, and learning more about added sugar, I am even more so inclined to spread awareness about this rising issue in America. For those who have not yet see the film, I highly recommend you go see it right now ( obviously, after you're done reading this article). 

So what's the deal with sugar? Heres what you need to know: Sugar has been deemed "toxic" or "poison" and is linked to heart disease, type 2-diabetes, hypertension,  and obesity. Dr. Lustig, Professor of Pediatrics at UCSF, claims that sugar is not acutely toxic, like arsenic, but chemically toxic, which means toxicity develops over a much longer period of time. Because fructose is not an acute toxin but rather a chronic one, the FDA does not regulate the amount we are exposed to. 

Like alcohol, a little sugar is fine, but a lot is not. And the food industry has put us way over our limit. Of the 600,000 food items in the American grocery store, 80 percent have been spiked with added sugar; and the industry uses 56 other names for sugar on the label. They know when they add sugar, you buy more. And because you do not know you're consuming it, you buy even more. The reality is we as a nation are addicted to sugar. Fed Up predicts that 95% of Americans will be overweight or obese in the next two decades unless something is done to tackle hidden sugars in everyday foods.

The average American consumes about 152 pounds of sugar a year. That’s roughly 22 teaspoons every day for every person in America. To make matters worse, kids consume about 34 teaspoons every day — that’s more than two 20-ounce sodas — making nearly one in four teenagers pre-diabetic or diabetic. 

A child's risk of becoming obese increases by 60% for every additional sugary drink consumed per day.

This past weekend, I had the privilege to hear Dr. Mark Hyman, Chairman of the Institute of Functional Medicine, speak about sugar at a nutrition conference. According to a study he shared, eating high-sugar foods lights up your brain on an MRI "like a Christmas tree," in the very same part of the brain that's triggered by cocaine or heroine. Simply put, our tastebuds have been highjacked. 

Fact: Sugar is 8x more addictive than cocaine. 

Sugar Vs. Cocaine

And if you want to know how food affects our brain, check out this video below. 

The scary part is we have no idea where this stuff is hiding! I mean sugar is literally everywhere. So while you might think you're in the clear if you simply avoid sweets, I can bet you are still consuming high doses of this "crack" like substance. For example, added sugar lurks in places you may even deem "healthy", including yogurt, muesli, oatmeal, whole wheat bread, granola, spaghetti sauce, cereal, dried fruit, and salad dressings.  

Check out these common products with comparable amounts of sugar. A light yogurt is equivalent to one can of Pepsi! That's just absurd. 

Image via Dr. Mark Hyman Lecture

Image via Dr. Mark Hyman Lecture

Image via Dr. Mark Hyman Lecture

Image via Dr. Mark Hyman Lecture

4 grams of sugar = 1 teaspoon – an important fact to keep in mind when reading nutrition labels

A poster from Kaiser Permanente, which documents the amount of sugar is common beverages. 

A poster from Kaiser Permanente, which documents the amount of sugar is common beverages. 

“Sugar-containing foods in their natural form, whole fruit, for example, tend to be highly nutritious—nutrient-dense, high in fiber, and low in glycemic load. On the other hand, refined, concentrated sugar consumed in large amounts rapidly increases blood glucose and insulin levels, increases triglycerides, inflammatory mediators and oxygen radicals, and with them, the risk for diabetes, cardiovascular disease and other chronic illnesses,” Dr. Ludwig  


The American Heart Association’s recommended daily allowance of sugar:

  • 3 teaspoons of added sugar for children
  • 6 teaspoons of added sugar for women
  • 9 teaspoons of added sugar for men

Its hard to abide by these guidelines since sugar goes by many names. Spotting added sugar in nutrition labels can be somewhat tricky if you don't know what you are looking for. Below are some other names for sugar that you may see on food labels:

  • Agave nectar
  • Evaporated cane juice
  • Malt syrup
  • Brown sugar
  • Fructose
  • Maple syrup
  • Cane crystals
  • Fruit juice concentrates
  • Molasses
  • Cane sugar
  • Glucose
  • Raw sugar
  • Corn sweetener
  • High-fructose corn syrup
  • Sucrose
  • Sorbitol
  • Xylotol
  • Corn syrup
  • HoneySyrup
  • Crystalline fructose
  • Invert sugar
  • Dextrose
  • Maltose


Artificial sweeteners are NOT better and in no way am I saying to replace sugar with these toxic substances. I rather have the real deal then touch this stuff any day. The American Heart Association (AHA) and American Diabetes Association (ADA) have given a cautious nod to the use of artificial sweeteners in place of sugar to combat obesity, metabolic syndrome, and diabetes, all risk factors for heart disease. 

Artificial sweeteners actually trick your brain and causes you to eat more. They are associated with weight gain in adults and teens, and raise risk for diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease.


Perhaps the focus should be on counting sugar instead of calories. For instance, a zero calorie low-fat breakfast bar is typically loaded with some form of sugar to compensate. That sugar inevitably gets stored as fat in out bodies. So does making the focus on low calories make sense? ABSOLUTELY NOT. 

To limit sugar consumption:

1.) Buy fresh, eat Fresh! Shop the outer perimeters of grocery stores. That is where all the fresh produce and real foods can be found. 

2.) Cut back on purchasing processed foods.

3.) Swap the soda for water.

3.) READ THE LABEL CAREFULLY, and avoid foods with 15-20g or more a day.

4.) Eat foods with less then five or less identifiable ingredients on the label. If a 5 year old can't pronounce it - don't buy it! 

5.) Avoid foods with health claims! Low-fat products are the ones highest in sugar. 

6.) If you are craving something sweet, reach for some fruit or a piece of dark chocolate.  

7.) Substitute. Switch out sugar with unsweetened applesauce in recipes. 


Just think: When you remove sugar from your diet (or at least cut back on your intake), you will get benefits galore! 

  • Loose weight and keep it off
  • Boost your mood
  • Concentrate better
  • Boost energy
  • Feel better both mentally and physically
  • Reve-up your libido.
  • Clearer skin

So now that we know sugar is crack maybe we can finally put an end to America's long lasting perceptions. 

A Domino Ad in the 1950's

A Domino Ad in the 1950's


Top 10 Big Ideas: How to Detox from Sugar - Dr. Mark Hyman