Researchers have recently announced that our daily consumption of sugar should be reduced from 5% to 3% of our total energy intake. The recommended amount was 10%, but health organizations have been decreasing that number. Considering only one can of soda can account for over 3% of your daily energy intake, the new guideline will be quite difficult to follow. This particular research study examined the financial and health consequences of sugar intake from a dental perspective, but I would argue that diabetes and obesity are much bigger public health issues.
According to Dr. Mercola, we shouldn’t be eating as many carbs as we do because our bodies don’t need as much sugar as we may think. He claims that for the gallon of blood circulating through our body, we only need one teaspoon of sugar. If that were to increase to one tablespoon, we would go into a hyperglycemic coma. Thankfully, insulin prevents that from happening. But when we consistently pour huge amounts of sugar into our system (like when we eat a pasta dinner with a large coke and ice cream for dessert), our pancreas has to pump out lots of insulin. After a while, our cells become less sensitive to insulin and we need more of it to get our blood sugar down. When cells become insulin-resistant, we may develop diabetes.
While I don’t agree with all of Dr. Mercola’s health advice (I love carbs and will continue to eat lots of whole grains–we need it for energy!), I can definitely see the logic behind his argument. And while 3% is a tiny number, I think it’s a good goal to shoot for. Cutting back to just one soda, or one dessert, a day is a reasonable plan of action. The proposed “sugar tax” seems unfair and unnecessary. People don’t need to be punished for buying sweets by having to pay more. If I’m craving ice cream, I won’t be deterred if it costs a few extra cents (and really, the stuff is expensive enough already).
I try to keep my sugar intake low by not adding sugar to my coffee and not drinking any soft drinks or alcoholic beverages. Eating healthy snacks throughout the day keeps me from getting so hungry that I binge on sweets. Initially it’s difficult to give up sugary foods/drinks, but after a while your desire fades and you’ll find yourself making healthier choices.