At my daughter’s softball game yesterday, our team enjoyed a sound victory. The final score was 19 to 5 and the girls were jubilant about crushing the opposition. Naturally, they wanted to celebrate.
As is often customary following a baseball or softball game, we descended upon a local ice cream establishment. Or rather I should say, a frozen yogurt establishment. After all, frozen yogurt is much healthier for you than ice cream, right? After all, it’s advertised as low fat. There was even a Seinfeld episode about the benefits of low-fat frozen yogurt.
But There Is Just One Little Problem
But there’s just one little problem. The problem isn’t the fat content in the food. The problem is the sugar. We need dietary fat. We don’t need sugar. Well, we need some sugar – but in the form of the right kinds of sugar.
When it comes to macronutrients (carbohydrates, proteins, fats), there are good and bad for each type. For example, when it comes to carbohydrates (sugars), they’re not all created equally. And they do not all have the same metabolic effect on your body. A plate of broccoli and a plate of chocolate are both technically carbs. But broccoli won’t cause health problems if you eat a lot of it.
Complex carbohydrates (like vegetables) break down slowly and are nutritionally dense (meaning they are packed with vitamins, minerals, fiber and other things you need to be healthy). Additionally, they are low calorie (meaning you can eat pounds of the stuff and it won’t lead to weight gain). Simple carbohydrates (like sugary snacks) are nutritionally poor and high in calories.
The Obesity Curse
Obesity is one of the biggest health concerns in America. There are many causes for obesity (the most common ones being a poor diet coupled with being too sedentary). And when you take a closer look into this issue, the single largest component of the poor diet issue is the mass overconsumption of sugar.
We Americans simply eat way too much sugar. Beyond the usual suspects (candy, cakes, pies, and sodas), the fine people in the food industry have managed to sneak sugar (in various forms) into a bewildering array of foodstuffs.
Food manufacturers frequently use high fructose corn syrup because it’s cheap and plentiful. It is found in salad dressings, ketchup, yogurt, cereal bars, bread, frozen pizzas, canned fruit, apple sauce, frozen dinners, and many other products.
What Is The Result?
What is the net result of overconsumption of sugars? Beyond the obvious weight gain & obesity issues, consuming high amounts of sugar also is linked to: tooth decay, diabetes, adrenal dysfunction, thyroid problems, liver disease, ADD / ADHD, depression, Alzheimer’s, dementia, chronic inflammation, yeast & candida infections, dysbiosis (overgrowth of “bad” bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract), leaky gut syndrome, a decreased pain threshold, autoimmune disease, decreased immune system function (you get sick more often), elevated cholesterol & triglycerides, high blood pressure, increased risk of a cardiovascular event (such as heart attack or stroke), atherosclerosis, premature aging, hemorrhoids, gall stones, allergies, emphysema, cataracts, alternating constipation/diarrhea, irritable bowel syndrome, inflammatory bowel syndrome, reduce learning capacity, fluid retention & edema, slow recovery from injury, acne, periodontal disease, arthritis, abnormal neurotransmitter levels (dopamine, serotonin, acetylcholine, GABA) and cancer.
Getting Back To The Frozen Yogurt Store
Now let’s get back to the frozen yogurt store. When you go in there, they have a self-serve machine where you dispense your own frozen yogurt into a cup. And then they have a bewildering array of toppings you can put on your yogurt. Admittedly they do have some fruit toppings. But the far larger selection (and the one most people go for) are the candy toppings. I watched as children and adults both took their frozen yogurt and piled them high with sugary toppings. It made me genuinely wonder if any of them were at all aware of the health risks involved with consuming this toxic waste.
Why Put Yourself at Risk?
In this day & age, with all the information we currently have about the adverse health issues associated with eating tons of sugar, it makes me wonder why anyone would willingly put themselves at risk. Is sugar worth losing your health? At what point will people finally open their eyes and awaken to the reality that what you eat will inevitably have long-lasting consequences on how you function?
We as a people need to change our consciousness about how we view sugar. We need to stop treating it as a treat and start treating it as an enemy combatant. Rather than rewarding ourselves with visits to frozen yogurt places, bakeries, and other such establishments that sell toxic waste, we should figure out better, healthier ways to celebrate.
Our eating habits were established when we were children. And our children’s eating habits are being shaped by how we do things. (And by the way, I do limit my children’s exposure to sugar).
I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking “well, it’s okay if it’s done in moderation. If I don’t go to the frozen yogurt place all the time, I’ll be fine.” Okay, I understand that line of thought. But please consider this fact: Americans today (on average) consume about 130 pounds of sugar per year. In 1850, we consumed about 20 pounds of sugar per year. In 1970, it had gone up to 75 pounds of sugar per year. We’ve almost doubled our sugar intake within the past 40 years.
There is no question we’re not only eating too much sugar but also that we need to change the parameters of what we consider “moderation”. My advice is to completely avoid the frozen yogurt places, the bakeries, and other vendors of toxic waste and get back to eating real food.