(StatePoint) You may not realize it, but your sugar consumption has likely increased over the last several years. Beyond what you add to your coffee or the occasional sweet treat, you may be getting hidden sugar from an array of processed foods, such as ketchup and salad dressing. Even conventional baby food contains added sugar. And all those additions can be troubling to your health, say experts.
“Sugar is directly linked to obesity, tooth decay, diabetes, fatigue, headaches, arthritis, adrenal burnout and physiological or emotional problems such as ADHD and PMS,” says Dr. Steve Weston, director of Ambassador Relations/Nutrition Expert of Sunwarrior, a producer of raw, plant-based supplements.
For improved health, here are several ways to become more mindful about your sugar consumption:
There are many names and forms of sugar so learning to read food labels helps. Generally speaking, if an ingredient ends with the suffix -ose, then it’s a sugar.
Keep the sugar off the table and in the pantry. You’ll be less likely to add it to your meals. That being said, there are plenty of foods that you may be adding sugar to that are already sugary on their own — from cereal to fresh fruit. Once you get used to the natural taste of these foods, you won’t miss the added spoonful.
Don’t use artificial sweeteners. While it may seem natural to reach for an artificial sweetener when you’re attempting to cut back on the real deal, it’s a grave mistake. Most artificial sweeteners actually increase cravings for sugary foods. If you do need a boost of sweetness, stick to more healthful whole food options, such as honey, date sugar, coconut sugar and pure organic maple syrup.
Seek out sweet flavors, while reaping the benefits of plant-based proteins with a protein blend powder that is easily digestible, nutrient-filled, tastes great and has zero grams of sugar and no unhealthy additives.
“A healthy protein powder can ensure you’re getting a complete array of the essential amino acids needed to build and repair muscle, drive metabolism, keep skin young and elastic, build and balance hormones and carry out a host of other processes by allowing the body to create the right enzymes,” says Dr. Weston.
Pay attention to your skin, which is a reflection of your health and the quality of your nutrition. If you consume too much sugar, particularly from processed foods, a chemical reaction can form a rogue molecule known as an advanced glycation endproduct. Undesirable effects include wrinkles and droopy skin.
By learning more about the foods you eat and making wise choices, you can reduce your sugar intake without missing out on flavor.