In discussions regarding sugar, many people notice it everywhere. So, the question is how much is ok if you can’t avoid it 100%?
That’s a tough question to answer. It’s really a personal answer. Perfection is never the key in life, but thriving thru life is the goal.
If you are healthy, with no medical conditions, you aren’t recovering from an injury, do not suffer from inflammatory arthritis, have good energy and mood stability, then a little sugar is not going to end the world. If you are attempting to regain your health and you are recovering from surgery or an athletic injury, then this is a good time to avoid refined sugars completely, or almost.
Personally, I find avoiding gluten easier than avoiding sugar while living an active and social lifestyle. So here is some interesting information that may help you decide your own limits on how much is ok.
In addition to the articles mentioned in earlier blogs (http://www.renosoar.com/holistic-health-tips/sugar-and-artificial-sweeteners-are-they-an-innocent-indulgence-or-contribute-to-negative-health) regarding risk for rheumatoid arthritis with sugar consumption, there are also links to sugar depressing the immune system. In an article from The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 1973 showed decreased neutrophil phagocytosis activity with 100 g sugar (included glucose, starch, fructose, and sucrose (from honey and orange juice) intake for upto 5 hours after ingestion, during hours 1-2 with the greatest decrease in neutrophil phagocytosis. (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/4748178)
What does that mean?
A neutrophil is an immune cell that fights invaders, like bacteria and viruses that can make you sick. Phagocytosis is the process when the immune cell destroys the invading bacteria or virus to prevent illness. When sugar is consumed, this activity is significantly slowed, implicating the potential for becoming sick. In the study they used 100g of sugar.
100g sugar = 19.20 tsp sugar
The World Health Organization recommends a normal body mass index adult take in only 25 g/day or 6 tsp. They recommend that the free sugars should be less than 10% of total energy intake and that further reduction to 5% would provide additional health benefits. (http://www.who.int/mediacentre/news/releases/2015/sugar-guideline/en/) Unfortunately, this 1973 study didn’t test a lower limit on sugar to see what the lowest dose of sugar needed to produce a depression of the immune cells.
So how much is too much?
The average amount of sugar in some popular yogurt with fruit is about 15g/serving. The average soda contains 40g of sugar. An average granola bar has 12 g of sugar. That’s 67g sugar just on snacks. Its not 100g like the study, but that’s well over the WHO recommendation of 25g/day. And just because it says “sugar-free” or “no high fructose corn syrup”, still check the ingredients and labels. Sugar by another name is still sugar. 100g of “natural” sugar like honey is still sugar to your body.
So when you are looking at your labels, read the grams of sugar and make your decision from there. Listen to your body and how it responds. Give sugar a break for a week or longer, then reintroduce it. How do you feel? How does your body respond?
Personally, when I buy a packaged food, I am sure that 1 serving size has less than 10g of sugar and prefer it closer to 5g. Or better yet, none! I eat those prepackaged things sparingly. Alcoholic beverages often contain a lot of free sugar also, so keep that in mind as you enjoy that glass of wine, beer or mixed beverage. So I save those for special occasions. And if I am fighting a cold or working on healing from an injury, I do avoid those things even more and I increase my consumption of healing foods rich in anti-oxidants and of course bone broth!
Remove. Replace. Restore.
Remove the refined sugars or at least limit them as much as possible. For sure reduce them to the WHO recommendations of less than 6tsp or 25 g/day.
Replace with plenty of healthy sweet fruits, like an organic green apple or a handful of anti-oxidant rich berries within a balanced diet with healthy vegetables and protein.
Restore health with adequate nutrition, healthy exercise, and adequate rest to thrive on.
Eat well. Move well. Thrive on.
Dr Carolyn Dolan DPT, Cert MDT, MSHN
Where physical therapy, nutrition and lifestyle meet, because how you live your life determines whether or not you soar. Inspiring action with information so you can reduce pain, optimize healing and improve function naturally during recovery from injury, surgery or painful condition. This is a website for the open-minded; obstinate need not apply.