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Is Sugar Responsible for the Obesity Epidemic?

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The developed world is currently struggling with an obesity epidemic, responsible for higher rates of death and various diseases and conditions (including diabetes and heart disease). The percent of U.S. adults over the age of 19 who are overweight is now 73.6 percent, with 42.5 percent of adults being formally classified as obese – and the statistics for children and adolescents aren’t much better. 

Various nutrition and health experts have pointed the finger at different culprits over the years, with many people blaming sugar intake for the rise in obesity. But is sugar completely to blame for the obesity epidemic? And if so, what can we do about it? 

The Problems With Sugar

Essentially, the problems with sugar 

  • A source of excess calories. First and foremost, sugar is a source of excess calories – and often, those calories are empty. Sugar is a type of simple carbohydrate that comes in a few different forms, including glucose and fructose, but it always carries 4 calories per gram. It’s found naturally in a variety of foods, including those we find nutritious and part of a “healthy diet,” like apples and other fruits. However, it’s also frequently added to processed foods, especially desserts, making them richer and more caloric. When human beings consume more calories than they expend in the course of a day, they store the extra energy in the form of fat. Put simply, sugar is a rich source of calories, so eating too much sugar can lead to weight gain. 
  • Good taste. Adding to the complexity of the situation is sugar’s delicious taste. Humans evolved to favor sweet foods, like fruits, because they’re both rare and nutritious in the wild. But these days, sugar is plentiful – and it still tastes just as delicious. People love eating sugar, feeling a release of dopamine and other “feel-good chemicals” whenever they do it, so much so that some experts believe it’s possible to be addicted to sugar. If you have a bad habit of eating high-calorie, sugary foods, this quality of sugar can make the problem worse. 
  • High prevalence. Sugar has the potential to make a person overweight, sure, but can it really be blamed for an entire culture of overweight people? The answer is partially yes, if for no other reason than its high prevalence. Food producers all over the world pack sugar into their foods whenever possible – especially a certain type of sugar called high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), which functions as a preservative in addition to its sweetening effect. This makes sugar hard to avoid – and adds calories to otherwise perfectly good food choices. 
  • High glycemic index. It’s also worth noting that sugar metabolizes in the body differently than other carbohydrates and other nutrients. It carries a high glycemic index (GI), meaning it processes very quickly, releasing into the bloodstream at a fast rate. However, it should be noted that the evidence that sugar has a direct impact on obesity rates independent of its caloric content is difficult for experts to parse. In other words, we’re not sure whether sugar’s fast processing in the body makes its calories have a different impact on the body than comparable qualities from a lower-GI food. 

How to Handle the Sugar Problem

So what can we do to handle the sugar problem? 

Everything starts with us being more educated consumers. We need to pay careful attention to the labels of the food products we buy, and understand that added sugar can have a negative impact on our health. 

We can also work on utilizing sweeteners and preservatives other than sugar. These days, thanks to the progress made by food scientists, we have access to a wide range of both natural and artificial sweeteners that give us the same great taste and culinary function of sugar – but without the high calories and high glycemic index. 

Other Variables to Consider

Of course, it’s hard to blame sugar exclusively for the obesity epidemic. We also have to consider: 

  • Total calorie consumption. High-calorie diets, regardless of the specific foods eaten, will lead to obesity. Big portion sizes and mindless snacking are partially to blame for the epidemic. 
  • Trans fatty acids (TFAs). Some experts have pointed the finger at TFAs, fatty compounds that are prevalent in fast foods and fried foods. 
  • Sedentary lifestyle. We also need to consider the lack of physical exercise the average person gets on an average day. With desk jobs and minimal time in recreational activities, we burn fewer calories. 

Sugar isn’t the only factor responsible for the high rates of obesity in the developed world, but it’s definitely a contributor. Collectively, we need to take the impact of sugar seriously and work to lessen its impact on our weight and health.

Michelle has been a part of the journey ever since Bigtime Daily started. As a strong learner and passionate writer, she contributes her editing skills for the news agency. She also jots down intellectual pieces from categories such as science and health.

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Health

Tap Into The Healthy Power of Citrus Fruits This Summer

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June is Peak Season for Lemons, Limes, and Oranges 

June has finally arrived and with it, the bounty of seasonal summer citrus fruits. With lemons, limes and oranges at peak season, it’s time to embrace this superfood trio to keep you happy, healthy, and hydrated all summer long. Whether it’s on your plate, in a smoothie, or in your water bottle, citrus fruits have long been hailed as nature’s power produce, providing our bodies with a whole host of nutrients without a lot of calories.

CITRUS FRUITS HEALTH BENEFITS

Lemons contain nutrients that can help support your cardiovascular health and protect against kidney stones and amenia. Additionally, lemons are high in Vitamin C, fiber and naturally beneficial plant compounds which can help lower cholesterol.

Limes are rich in Vitamin C as well, and help the immune system fight infections by attacking bacteria and viruses. They are acidic, which helps saliva break down food and stimulate good digestion.

Also boasting a high Vitamin C content , oranges contain magnesium and vitamin B6, which can help keep blood pressure under control. Additionally, one orange is equal to about 4 ounces of water, so they are also an excellent source for hydration. 

Consuming these summer citrus fruits is a great way to neutralize your body’s free radicals, which can be damaging molecules caused by exposure to chemicals, UV rays and other environmental stressors.  

STAY HEALTHY AND HYDRATED

As temperatures begin to soar from June onwards, it is essential to keep hydrated during the summer months. Proper hydration helps regulate body temperature, keeps the blood flowing evenly, supports brain function, lubricates the joints and supports smooth digestion. 

Don’t wait until you feel thirsty to have a drink. If you are thirsty, you are already dehydrated! Dehydration can affect people of all ages and fitness levels. One of the simplest ways to check your hydration levels is with a hydration calendar, suited to your gender, age, weight and activity level. 

If drinking water has become a bore, kick your beverage up a notch with clean and healthy water flavor enhancers like True Lemon or True Lime crystallized wedge replacements. Made from real lemon and lime juice and oils and no sugar or artificial flavors, colors or preservatives. Nothing but real citrus goodness.

Or combine the refreshment of lemons, limes and oranges with True Lemon Triple Citrus lemonade for a new twist on the classic summer lemonade. Made with only simple, clean Non GMO ingredients, each single serving added to your water bottle is only 10 calories and contains no artificial sweeteners or ingredients whose names you can’t pronounce. An easy and delicious way to stay hydrated anytime or anywhere.

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