How Much Sugar Is Too Much?
A little indulgence now and then isn’t a bad thing, is it? After all, moderation is a virtue. What’s the harm in having a treat occasionally? Well, that depends on your definition of moderation.
What is Moderation?
To one person, having only 32 ounces of pop per day might sound reasonable, if they’re cutting back from consuming a 6-pack. To another person, having a dessert after dinner might seem excessive if they rarely finish any meal with a treat.
Historically, our use of sugar has climbed almost exponentially from around a few pounds per person annually 200 years ago to nearly 200 pounds per person per year today! So is moderation eating only 100 pounds in a year – a quarter of a pound per day – instead of the half a pound we’re consuming daily? It seemed excessive to the rest of the world when the lords and ladies of upper society were putting sugar in their tea at a rate of less than 10 pounds per year during the height of the British Empire.
No, moderation is not the answer to knowing how much sugar to eat because it is such a relative term. Perhaps it would be better to determine your use of sweeteners by whether they are damaging to your health.
Is Sugar Causing Symptoms?
There are times, I’m sure, when you know you’ve had too much sugar, because you feel wired and can’t sleep, or you have a stomach ache, or your acne flares up. But what about those symptoms you can’t see? What if the damage to your body goes undetected for 20 or 30 years? Over-consumption of sweets contributes to the following conditions that take years – sometimes decades – to manifest:
- Food cravings, addictions, and then, sadly, intolerances.
- Advanced Glycation End Products, often called AGE’s, which are sticky, cross-linked proteins that create brittle tissues when they are used in the formation of skin, eyes, arteries, and other body parts.
- Insulin Resistance, an insidious disease that has been implicated in the development of obesity, heart disease, cancer, mineral deficiencies, autoimmunities, hypothyroidism, and other chronic illnesses. You can read more about Insulin Resistance here.
But if you’re eating so much now that it might be causing disease to manifest down the road, you can’t really know in the present. Therefore, symptoms are not a good gauge of sugar consumption, either!
What If You Just Cut Back a Little?
If you suspect that your sweet tooth has grown too large, you could curtail it a bit. That’s no guarantee that the damage to your body will stop, though. Sugar acts like a drug. How much of an addictive substance can you use without affecting your physiology? There’s also the insulin resistance problem: If a mother has insulin resistance during her pregnancy, she can pass it on to her child, and if that child is female, her eggs are predisposed to insulin resistance, too! So does your cutting back a little reverse the impact of generations?
If you simply didn’t ever eat refined sugar or artificial sweeteners, you obviously wouldn’t need to ask whether you were getting too much. But would you miss it? Well, if a person never takes up gambling, smoking, or drinking, does he feel deprived of addictive behaviors? Of course not! So it is with sweets. Living life without them can be fully satisfying. But you can’t know what it’s actually like unless you do it.
The Real Question
Instead of asking, “How much sugar is too much?” isn’t it better to ask, “How little can I eat?” I challenge you to find out how good life can feel without added sugar.