Nov 1, 2009

"Diet Villain" ALERT: SHOOGA (sugar)

SHOOGA: Using too much sugar, and too many sugar derivatives, and sugar substitutes

Over consumption of sugar is a rapidly growing problem in America today. The Center for Science in the Public Interest notes that we eat 20% more sugar now than in 1986. The average American eats twenty teaspoons of added sugar a day, aside from natural forms of sugar like lactose in milk and fructose in fruit. With so much sugar being consumed, it’s no wonder we face growing problems with obesity, diabetes, and other health issues.

Sugar primarily comes from sugar cane and sugar beets and goes through a refining process. Table sugar (granulated white sugar), which is stripped of all vitamins, minerals, fiber, amino acids and trace elements during the refining process, is pure sucrose. Sugar can affect health in a myriad of ways–suppress the immune system, cause free radical formation in the bloodstream, produce a significant rise in triglycerides and increase in total cholesterol, cause hypoglycemia, kidney damage, produce an acidic stomach, overstress the pancreas, increase risk of Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, increase the amount of fat in the liver, cause hormonal imbalance, increase in the body’s fluid retention, lead to many mineral deficiencies, speed up aging, cause headaches, including migraines, promotes tooth decay and periodontal disease. Sugar also contributes to hyperactivity, anxiety and depression, diabetes, osteoporosis, weight gain and obesity. And this is the abbreviated list.

Dietary sugar is primarily comprised of refined sugar cane or sugar beet. Table sugar (granulated white sugar) is pure sucrose and is stripped of all vitamins, minerals, fiber, amino acids, and trace elements during the refinement process.

* Notes
  • One level teaspoon of table sugar contains 15 empty calories, which means that these calories have little, if any, nutritional value.
  • Beyond the sugar we add to our coffee or tea, we consume sugar in a myriad of packaged foods where its content is disguised by other names, like “high fructose corn syrup”, which can cause fat gain and health problems.
  • Read the ingredients panel on just some of the hundreds of cereals currently on the market today. See my blog "Food Facts: Cereal"
  • Just because you don’t use table sugar or eat high-sugar cereals doesn’t mean you are avoiding sugar in your diet. Just read the labels on other packaged, man-made food products.
  • Be aware of other sources of sugar, like molasses, syrup, jams, etc.
* Total Daily Sugar Intake Rules
  • Avoid eating or adding table sugar to your food.
  • Since there is plenty of sugar occurring naturally in some foods (e.g. dairy products, fruits, vegetables), try to keep your extra sugar intake to no more than 50 grams per day.
  • Be very selective in your extra sugar sources.
  • If you need sweet, use honey (1 Tbsp. = 17 g) or agave nectar (1 Tbsp. = 8.2 g).
  • Begin to read labels on packaged foods—you will be truly amazed at how many products contain sugar and/or sugar derivatives--IT IS EVERYWHERE
  • Train your taste buds to start enjoying the natural tastes of whole food and liquids, and you will reap the rewards of a leaner body, better health, and a more vibrant look. And, you will avoid many potential health issues.
Fructose and High Fructose Corn Syrup:
Fructose is one of three simple blood sugars that are primarily found in honey, fruits, and some vegetables. While fructose is a very important source of energy for many body processes, over-consumption can overwhelm the body’s ability to process it, causing the excess to be converted to fats in the bloodstream (triglycerides). The presence of excess triglycerides has been linked to an increased risk of heart disease, appetite de-regulation (feelings of dissatisfaction or hunger which may lead to weight gain), and potential insulin resistance (which leads to the onset of type II diabetes).

If you are serious about losing weight and gaining (re-gaining) your health, sugar is one "diet villain" you need to be aware of and conquer! It is is MOST man-made, packaged, and processed foods. So save the sugar for those rare times you want to "cheat on your diet"!

Sugar substitutes (artificial sweeteners)
Artificial sweeteners are chemicals or natural compounds that offer the sweetness of sugar without as many calories. Because the substitutes are much sweeter than sugar, it takes a much smaller quantity to create the same sweetness. Products made with artificial sweeteners have a much lower calorie count than do those made with sugar. Artificial sweeteners are often used as part of a weight-loss plan or as a means to control weight gain.

For more information on artificial sweeteners check out the

Commonly Used
#1. Aspartame:
Aspartame is an artificial sweetener (the white powder in the little blue packets) commonly used in “diet foods” like soft drinks, drink mixes, gelatin desserts, low calorie frozen desserts, etc. Aspartame (Equal, NutraSweet), is a chemical combination of two amino acids and methanol, and has recently been linked to cancer and neurological problems.

#2. Saccharin:
Saccharin is an artificial sweetener found in “diet” products, soft drinks, sugar packets, and fountain drinks at restaurants. In animal studies saccharin has caused cancer of the bladder, uterus, ovaries, skin, blood vessels and other organs. In 1977 the FDA wanted to ban saccharin because of these animal studies, but congress intervened and permitted its use as long as there was a warning label. In 2000 saccharin was removed from the list of cancer causing chemicals and Congress passed a law removing the warning label. As a result, use of saccharin in soft drinks and other foods will likely increase, and so will the incidence of cancer.

#3. Splenda:
Splenda is the trade name for sucralose, a synthetic compound stumbled upon in 1976 by scientists in Britain seeking a new pesticide formulation. It is true that the Splenda molecule is comprised of sucrose (sugar) — except that three of the hydroxyl groups in the molecule have been replaced by three chlorine atoms.

According to Women to Women: A great website full of information on this topic
"Evidence that there are side effects of Splenda is accumulating little by little. Sucralose has been implicated as a possible migraine trigger, for example. Self-reported adverse reactions to Splenda or sucralose collected by the Sucralose Toxicity Information Center include skin rashes/flushing, panic-like agitation, dizziness and numbness, diarrhea, swelling, muscle aches, headaches, intestinal cramping, bladder issues, and stomach pain. These show up at one end of the spectrum — in the people who have an allergy or sensitivity to the sucralose molecule. But no one can say to what degree consuming Splenda affects the rest of us, and there are no long-term studies in humans with large numbers of subjects to say one way or the other if it’s safe for everyone."
#4. Stevia:
Stevia (STEE-vee-uh) is a South American shrub whose leaves have been used for centuries by native peoples in Paraguay and Brazil to sweeten their yerba mate and other stimulant beverages.

Stevioside, the main ingredient in stevia (the two terms are often used interchangeably), is virtually calorie-free and hundreds of times sweeter than table sugar. “So it appeals to many people as a natural alternative to artificial sweeteners,” says Mark Blumenthal of the pro-herb American Botanical Council in Austin, Texas.

Cancer. In the laboratory, steviol can be converted into a mutagenic compound, which may promote cancer by causing mutations in the cells’ genetic material (DNA). “We don’t know if the conversion of stevioside to steviol to a mutagen happens in humans,” says Huxtable. “It’s probably a minor issue, but it clearly needs to be resolved.” Read more from Nutrition Action

Artificial sweeteners are chemicals that offer the sweet flavor of sugar without the calories. There is much debate on their safety and MY DIVA DIET does not recommend them.

* Notes

The long-term harmful effects of some artificial sweeteners are documented. However, as new ones come on the market, their effects will remain unknown until the harm is already done.
  • According to some researchers, nutritionists, and diabetes experts, artificial sweeteners may have carcinogenic properties and be linked to increased risk of tumors, seizure disorders, chronic headaches, and hyperactivity in children.
* Sugar Substitutes Rule
  • To become genuinely healthy and fit you should avoid unnecessary sugar and artificial sweeteners while developing a taste for foods and liquids in their natural forms.
DON'T LEAVE YOUR HEALTH TO CHANCE -- skip the artificial sweeteners and use fruit, honey, or agave nectar instead!

Sugar is part of Factor #3: Quality and Purity of Calories of the Five Factors Affecting Body Fat & Health.

We are your "fitness superheroes", Super Fit Diva and Paw–ready to EXPOSE, ATTACK and DEFEAT the "diet villains" in your life!
To learn more about the 18 "diet villains" check out our website

You can also take our 32 Question Diva Diet Quiz.
Stay tuned for our next featured "diet villain"!

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You can win the battle for health and fitness!

1 comment:

erin said...

In my opinion the greatest proof of the safety of stevia is that it has been used in South America for 1500 years(and has been using it to treat diabetes) and in Asia for decades without any reports of negative effects recorded in literature.

Not all stevia brands are created equal, though. I use the most natural and pure of the brands, SweetLeaf Sweetener stevia (0 calories, 0 carbs, and a 0 glycemic index--their powder has added inulin fiber).