Friend and Foe: Sugar!

Sugar is a food additive found in many of the foods we consume that weakens the immune system, stimulates inflammatory messengers in your body, and creates imbalances in your gut microbiome that directly – and negatively - impacts brain health.

Every man, woman, and child in the US consumes approximately 80 pounds of added sugar and sweeteners per year, which translates to 20 teaspoons of sugar a day. All of this added sugar means up to an additional 400 calories every day!

This seems like a lot, but when you consider how even the food that we associate with being a  healthy choice can have many teaspoons of added sugar, it begins to make more sense. Added sugars are hiding in many of our foods. For example, if you look at Chobani Blueberry greek yogurt, you see that there are 9 grams of added sugar, which translates into over 2 teaspoons of additional sugar that serves no nutritional value beyond extra calories. You pair this with a gatorade (5.5 tsp sugar), a piece of candy (3 tsp sugar), and a bowl of cheerios (5 tsp sugar) you quickly get past 20 teaspoons of added sugar in one day, or possibly even before your morning is over.

This week, take a peek at your nutrition facts labels and see how many grams of added sugar that you are consuming each day!

It's even more concerning when you take into account that many of the sugars that have been added to our foods are highly processed, such as those added with high fructose corn syrup. Even "table sugar" – the white granular sugar that most people are familiar with - has been highly processed, which increases the unhealthiness of the final sugar product.

Controlling your intake of added sugar can go a long way in fighting chronic disease and promoting a long-term healthy brain.  Controlling sugar is a lifestyle change that can be easier to implement when you have a solid plan. Your Healthy Mind program has been designed to help you make small lifestyle changes – such as limiting added sugar - that can work over time to improve your brain health and help you fend off chronic disease.