The typical diet contains many nutrient deficient foods that are high in added sugars. Added sugar is another name for a processed, refined carbohydrate. The top offenders, according to the American Heart Association are: (1) soft drinks, energy drinks, sport drinks; (2) refined grain-based desserts (cakes, cookies, etc); and (3) fruit drinks. (When you hear people mistakenly say that carbs are “bad” for you, they’re usually talking about added sugars, not all carbohydrates.)

There are two categories of carbohydrates: (1) complex carbs (full of fiber): whole grains, whole vegetables, whole fruits, peas, beans; and (2) simple carbs: natural sugars (from fruits and vegetables) and refined sugars (white flour, sugar, most syrups).

Historically, we’ve only been eating refined sugars for about 400 years. Americans now consume 156 pounds of added sugar in their diets each year on a per capita basis, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Our bodies weren’t designed to eat this way.

Dumping high fructose corn syrup into cheap foods, sodas, sports drinks and energy drinks is toxic to the body, causing epidemic metabolic diseases and a serious health crisis.

Over 8,000 scientific papers show a strong connection between the consumption of added sugar and chronic diseases. However, according to a recent study mentioned in the Journal of the American Medical Association, medical schools continue to neglect adequately educating future doctors about nutrition.

Only 25% of medical schools require a dedicated course in nutrition, and the average amount of nutrition education is 19.6 hours. (My doctor told me that her medical school dedicated a total of 45 minutes to the study of nutrition.) This is despite the fact that nutrition-related issues are estimated to account for a good percentage of visits to primary care providers.

Added sugars are sugars that don’t occur naturally in foods. They are found in 74 percent of all packaged foods, have 61 names and often are difficult to decipher on food labels.

So, can you look at a food’s Nutrition Facts label and know how many grams of added sugar you’re eating? No. You can’t. The label only lists “Sugars”. These could either be naturally occurring sugars in the food (okay in moderation), or refined sugars that have been added (not so good). Food manufacturers are not required to list these separately … yet.

The solution: Check the food’s list of ingredients for added sugars. Some other names for added sugars include: corn syrup, high-fructose corn syrup, fruit juice concentrate, maltose, dextrose, sucrose, honey, and maple syrup. Ingredients used in the greatest amounts are always listed first on the label. Make sure that added sugars are not listed as one of the first few ingredients (which would, of course, indicate that the food contains mostly added sugars).

Learn more about refined carbs.

Stevia is a healthy substitute for added sugars. I like the SweetLeaf brand. They make a product called Sweet Drops that you can add to sparkling water. It comes in lots of flavors.

Clinicians widely believe that obesity is the cause of metabolic disease. Although it is a marker for these diseases, it’s not the cause. Too much sugar causes chronic metabolic disease in both fat and thin people, and instead of focusing on obesity as the problem, we should be focusing on our processed-food supply.

Hippocrates, known as the father of western medicine, said “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food”.

After graduating from medical school, a doctor friend of mine started his general practice and quickly became discouraged because, though he was following standard procedures, his patients just weren’t getting much better. His mentors assured him he was “doing it right” and that was just the way it was. Not content to simply manage their symptoms, he took the initiative and stepped “out of the box” to learn more about nutrition, then put all of his patients on a “no refined carbohydrate” diet plan along with a B-complex vitamin. He reported that every single one of them showed a marked improvement in their presenting symptoms within a short period of time.

What happens when you eat more consciously…?

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