Interesting Facts Regarding Added Sugar & Processed Food

Scientific research continues to demonstrate the health benefits when added sugar and processed food are restricted in a typical diet. Many of us eat healthy during meal time. The issue seems to arise when it comes to snack time, grazing or late night eating. It is during these times that we jump ship eating more highly processed foods and added sugar.

The New York Times and Dr. Robert Lustig, MD teamed up recently offering an educational hour-long discussion on the “perils of sugar and processed foods” that can now be viewed on Youtube.

If you think snacking during the pandemic has taken its toll on your waistline, you’re probably right! Dr. Robert Lustig, an endocrinologist and professor emeritus at the University of California, San Francisco, has a long history of trying to help prove this.

Dr. Lustig is a best-selling author of “Fat Chance: Beating the Odds Against Sugar, Processed Food, Obesity and Disease.” One of his lectures on the health risks of added sugar has more than 10 million views currently on YouTube. Earlier his month he joined Tara Parker-Pope, founding editor of the New York Times Well column. They looked to answer questions and share advice on how we can improve our overall health by simply cutting back on sugar and processed foods. You can listen to his latest lecture here.

Interesting Facts Regarding Sugar and Processed Food

One of the more interesting take aways from his talk was his definition of processed food from a nutrition standpoint. He stated that in order for something to be considered a processed food, it has too little of three and too much of eight of the following items.

Too little of

  1. fiber
  2. omega-3
  3. micronutrients

Too much of

  1. branch-chain amino acids
  2. salt
  3. nitrates
  4. omega-6 fatty acids
  5. food dyes
  6. food additives
  7. emulsifiers
  8. added sugar

It can be a daunting task to get this under control when someone is focusing on trying to eat better. The packaged foods in a typical grocery store contain 74 percent added sugar. This is one reason why a nutritionist always says to shop only the outside or periphery of the store, do not go down the middle isles.

Americans Eat Too Much Sugar and Processed Food

The average American consumes too much added sugar on a daily basis. Americans currently eat about 76 pounds of different forms of sugars every year. Even though we have seen a 15 percent decrease in added sugar consumption since 1999, according to government data, the typical person still eats about 94 grams (or 375 calories) on a daily basis (U.S. Department of Agriculture).

This is How Much Sugar You Should be Eating

Some publications have reported added sugar should make up less than 10 percent of our total daily caloric intake while other reports say that’s wrong and it should be more like 5 percent – which I tend to agree with. In that line of thinking, there may be value in putting ourselves on what I like to call an added sugar budget. An average meal can easily turn into dessert. A good, healthy goal for men is to consume no more than 150 calories a day (38 grams) of added sugar. Women should have a goal of 100 calories a day (25 grams). To clarify, you should limit your added sugars not natural sugars.

What Types of Food Contain Added Sugar?

Added sugar is hidden in more than 60 different forms and it’s in just about everything we eat, from tomato paste, to fruit-based yogurt to (sadly) sports drinks like Gatorade (i.e. HFCS). According Dr. Lustig, “approximately 80 percent of the 6,000,000 consumer packaged foods in the United States have added caloric sweeteners.”Your best bet is to avoid it altogether if it comes in a bag, a box, out of a can, or from a carton.

The first step is start reading all food labels. Natural sugars, like those that come from fruit, contain fructose, but are packed with plenty of fiber, have an abundance of nutrients and contain lots of water and as a result gets released slowly into the bloodstream. In turn, blood sugar levels do not spike as they would with high sugar content foods. The net result, your body avoids a big release of insulin from the pancreas. When this happens multiple times throughout the day and over time, the body becomes more sensitive to storing body fat.

What the Research Shows

There is an abundance of scientific research published each year showing too much added sugar in our diet can be toxic to our health.

One study showed subjects who got 17-21 percent of their calories from added sugar had a 38 percent risk of dying from cardiovascular disease compared to those who consumed 8 percent of their calories from added sugar. The risk was more than double for those who consumed 21 percent or more of their calories from added sugar.

(D’Adamo, 2015)

Two large European studies published by the British Medical Journal found positive associations between consumption of highly processed foods and risk of cardiovascular disease and death. Results showed that higher consumption of ultra-processed foods (more than 4 servings per day) was associated with a 62 percent increased risk of all cause mortality compared with lower consumption (less than 2 servings per day). For each additional daily serving of ultra-processed food, mortality risk relatively increased by 18 percent.

(BMJ, 2019)

Adopt a Healthy Eating Game Plan

To see big gains in the gym, it’s important that you train smart, eat healthy by decreasing sugar and processed food, and get plenty of sleep. Most people understand this intuitively but never develop a game plan to eat healthy. Try to follow these four easy steps to make the process easier and hopefully in turn build a healthy habit.

  1. Eat more fiber in your diet
  2. Decrease added sugar
  3. Eat fewer unhealthy fats
  4. Reduce salt intake

Use some of this information coupled with a regular strength training program if you want a recipe for success. Checkout the Jefit app to help plan & track your workouts.

Try the Award-Winning Jefit App

Jefit app was named best app for 2020 and 2021 by PC MagazineMen’s HealthThe Manual and the Greatist. The app comes equipped with a customizable workout planner and training log. The app has ability to track data, offer audio cues, and features to share workouts with friends. Take advantage of Jefit’s exercise database for your strength workouts. Visit our members-only Facebook group. Connect with like-minded people, share tips, and advice to help get closer to reaching your fitness goals. Try one of the new interval-based workouts and add it to your weekly training schedule. Stay strong with Jefit as you live your sustainable fitness lifestyle.

Reference

Srour, B et al., Ultra-processed food intake and risk of cardiovascular disease: prospective cohort study. BMJ 2019; 365:1451. https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.l1451

Healthy Lifestyle Makes a Positive Impact on Metabolic Health

The majority of Americans were classified as unhealthy prior to the pandemic hitting. With many of us self quarantining at home since then, that number, sadly, has probably only increased.

Many people actually think “healthy” refers to how much they weigh or what someones outward appearance looks like. Good overall health, however, starts internally. This is where the term metabolic health comes in. Some also refer to this as metabolic fitness. In any event, metabolic health is the absence of metabolic disease. The numbers in this country are not good. About 88 percent of Americans are considered to have metabolic disease. The good news, though, metabolic health can improve through healthy eating and regular exercise, especially a short walk after meals.

“Flying blind, 45 million Americans go on a diet each year. Using their best judgment, 59% of people say conflicting nutrition information makes them question their choices. Worse, only 12% of all Americans are actually metabolically healthy.”

Anthony Vennare – Co-Founder, Fitt Insider

Research on Metabolic Health

In a 2019 study published in the journal Metabolic Syndrome and Related Disorders, a group of researchers from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill reviewed data from 8,721 adults as reported in the 2009 to 2016 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). They found that just 1 in 8 adults living in United States had optimal metabolic health.

A second study published in 2016 in the journal Circulation, applied seven lifestyle and risk factors criteria from the American Heart Association to national data published between 2011 to 2012. The results found virtually 0% of U.S. adults met all the ideal levels. These levels included: not smoking, having a healthy diet, physical activity, normal weight and total cholesterol, blood pressure, and glucose level.

Finally, it has been determined through research that 23 percent of adults have metabolic syndrome. This condition occurs when a person fails to meet at least three of the ideal measurements with things like blood pressure and glucose levels (seen below).

What Constitutes Metabolic Health?

Using most recent guidelines, metabolic health was defined as having optimal levels of the following six criteria.

  • Waist Circumference (WC <40/34 inches for men/women respectively).
  • Glucose (fasting glucose <100 mg/dl).
  • Hemoglobin (A1c <5.7%).
  • Blood Pressure (systolic <120 and diastolic <80 mmHg).
  • Triglycerides (<150 mg/dl).
  • High Density Lipoprotein Cholesterol (≥40/50 mg/dl for men/women), and not taking any related medication.

Likewise, the International Diabetes Federation, states metabolic unhealthy individuals were defined as those who presented at least one of the following criteria:

  • Systolic/Diastolic Blood Pressure ≥130/85 mm Hg or use of antihypertensive drug.
  • Triglycerides level ≥150 mg/dl.
  • HDL-Cholesterol Level < 40 mg/dl in men or < 50 mg/dl in women or use of lipid-lowering drugs.
  • Glucose level ≥100 mg/dl or use of antidiabetic drug.

Intermittent Fasting and Metabolic Health

A possible tool to help improve metabolic health is intermittent fasting (IF). There has been a great deal of research over the years on the effects of IF on the body, including metabolic health. A review published in the revered New Journal of Medicine by Rafael de Cabo, Ph.D., and Mark P. Mattson, Ph.D., looked at the powerful effects of IF including glucose regulation that could help your metabolic health cause.

Intermittent fasting elicits evolutionarily conserved, adaptive cellular responses that are integrated between and within organs in a manner that improves glucose regulation, increases stress resistance, and suppresses inflammation. During fasting, cells activate pathways that enhance intrinsic defenses against oxidative and metabolic stress and those that remove or repair damaged molecules.”

Rafael de Cabo, Ph.D., and Mark P. Mattson, Ph.D

Therefore, continue to focus on regular exercise each week. Specifically, strength training and various forms of high intensity interval exercise. Mix this into your cardio at least 1-2 times a week. In addition, have your blood profile checked yearly or better yet, every six months to keep a handle on your metabolic health.

Get Strong and Stay Strong with Jefit

Millions of members have had great success using the Jefit app, equipped with a customizable workout planner, training log, the ability to track data and share workouts with friends. Take advantage of Jefit’s huge exercise database for your strength workouts. Visit our members-only Facebook group. Connect with like-minded people, share tips, and advice to help get closer to reaching your fitness goals. Stay strong with Jefit.