Americans eat way too much sugar.
The average American consumes over 70 grams of added sugar per day. That’s more than a pound per week.
Compare that to the recommended daily allowance of 9 grams for men or 6 grams for women, and it’s easy to see that our sugar intake is way out of bounds.
But it gets worse because those recommendations are for maximum allowances. That means we’re eating around ten times the maximum amount of sugar for a healthy diet.
How Much Sugar do You Need?
If you’re a healthy person who weighs 150 pounds, you’ve got about 4 grams of glucose (blood sugar) circulating through your body.
Almost any food contains enough sugar to maintain healthy blood glucose, so it’s unusual for humans to go without enough sugar in our diets. According to the USDA, a single large apple has about 23 grams of sugar. That’s six times the amount needed to keep you alive.
In the rare cases when you don’t eat enough sugar to keep up with demand, your liver and kidneys synthesize glucose from amino acids and lactate.
So what is all that extra sugar doing once you eat it? Nothing good, that’s what.
Health Benefits of Quitting Sugar
While correct blood sugar levels are essential to survival, added sugar has no benefit to health. In fact, it can be outright harmful.
Let’s explore some of the ways that quitting added sugar improves your health.
Car crashes don’t kill people; the massive trauma associated with car crashes kills people.
Does that sentence seem unnecessary and ridiculous? Of course it does. But it’s the kind of language you’ll see when you Google whether sugar causes weight gain.
Medical professionals often say sugar doesn’t directly cause weight gain, but consuming excess calories from sugar will cause you to gain weight. It’s a subtle distinction that emphasizes the complexity of the metabolic processes behind weight loss and gain.
Whatever the details, one thing is clear: sugar contains a lot of calories.
The average American consumes about a pound of sugar per week. A pound of sugar contains 1,700 calories, and a pound of fat equals 3,500 calories. That means, if you’re like most people, quitting sugar could help you lose four pounds of fat per month without making any other changes to your lifestyle!
Consuming added sugar is bad for your heart. Studies have shown that there is a direct connection between high-sugar diets and heart disease, even in people who aren’t overweight.
The mechanism behind sugar’s damaging effect on your heart isn’t fully understood, but there are several effects of consuming excess sugar that indirectly put more strain on your heart:
- Increased blood pressure
- Weight gain
Most of the added sugar in Americans’ diets comes from sodas and other sweetened beverages. That means protecting your heart might be as easy as drinking black coffee or green tea instead of soda.
Sugar doesn’t only affect your physical health; it can also harm your mental well-being.
Eating a high-sugar diet may not directly cause mental health issues, but it has been shown to exacerbate or trigger problems with:
- Memory and Cognition
Whether or not you suffer from a diagnosed mental illness like depression, your mood and mental well-being can be improved by eliminating added sugar. Swings between high and low blood sugar cause irritability, fatigue, and fuzzy thinking.
So, if you want to take a big step toward improving your physical and mental health in 2020, consider eliminating added sugar from your diet.