Refined carbohydrates are the mainstay of the Standard American Diet and why not with the constant bombardment of television commercials promoting high carb foods.  Then consider the layout of the grocery store check-out counters lined with candy bars, not to mention an entire isle designated for pop and chips, another to dessert baking goods and high fructose corn syrup drinks.  And why is it that just about every occasion celebrated revolves around candy and desserts? The sweets industry has us pegged with different colored candy wrappers for all that we celebrate.  If it’s about celebrating any occasion or holiday it means sugary sweets.

Sugar is the most additive substance, more so then heroine.  Consuming refined carbohydrates increases the level of the amino acid tryptophan, which is a building block of the brain chemical serotonin, a proven tranquilizer. In an effort to sustain that “good” feeling, sugar needs to be replenished to maintain that feeling.  This creates a cycle of craving and bingeing.

With sugar being devoid of minerals, vitamins, fiber, and it has a deteriorating effect on the entire body. Major researchers and major health organizations (American Dietetic Association and American Diabetic Association) agree that sugar consumption in America is one of the 3 major causes of degenerative disease.

The American Heart Association (AHA) is taking aim at the nation’s sweet tooth, urging consumers to significantly cut back on the amount of sugar they get from such foods as soft drinks, cookies and ice cream.

In the last 20 years, consumption has increased from 26 pounds to 135 lbs. of sugar per person per year! Prior to the turn of this century (1887-1890), the average consumption was only 5 lbs. per person per year! Cardiovascular disease, diabetes and cancer were virtually unknown in the early 1900’s.

In a scientific statement by the AHA they urge women to limit their sugar intake to 100 calories, or about six teaspoons, a day; for men, the recommendation is 150 calories, or nine teaspoons.

Data gathered during a national nutrition survey between 2001 and 2004 suggest that Americans consume on average 355 calories, or more than 22 teaspoons, of sugar a day. The body can only handle about 130 grams of carbohydrates, including 25 grams of fructose per day. Any more then this amount is an overload for the body, leading to dysfunction of the blood sugar regulation.

Excess carbs are metabolized into triglycerides, a type of fat found in the blood. The body uses them for energy, however when in excess, the triglycerides can raise the risk of heart disease and contribute to a condition called metabolic syndrome.

Metabolic syndrome is the combination of high blood pressure, high blood sugar, too much fat around the waist, low HDL (“good”) cholesterol, and high triglycerides. Metabolic syndrome increases your risk for heart disease, diabetes, and stroke.

There are different nutrients that can help manage the cravings for refined carbs and at the same time assist in sugar metabolism.  Keeping a count of the carb intake and planning the day’s menu so that smarter choices can be made is instrumental in limiting the carbs without feeling deprived.  The benefit of limiting carbs will result in weight loss, increased energy and better blood work results.

This information is for educational purposes and is not intended for diagnosis or treatment.