The sugar addiction in our American culture today is no joke. Our palates love the sweetness that sugar brings, and yet sugar is a real wolf in sheep’s clothing when it comes to our health. High sugar consumption has created a real and growing danger to our kids.
Sugar can be disguised so well in today’s manufactured foods that we don’t always know how much we are really consuming on a daily basis. It is often added to processed and canned foods, and it can go by many different names, making it hard to avoid if you’re not sure what to look for.
The Body’s Sugar Response
A sugar is a sugar no matter where it is found. It can be found in breads, cereals, raw fruits and vegetables, juices, soft drinks, and candy, to name a few. The body always responds the same when the sweetness touches our tongues–an insulin response is created, and our body begins to look for energy that it can use.
The key to keeping our blood sugar levels (and hence our sugar addiction)in check is to consume only those sugars that are found naturally in our foods. These sugars come with higher dietary fiber (ie. raw fruits and vegetables). The fiber helps our body metabolise the sugar in a way that is healthy.
We need to help our kids consume sugar in a way that is natural and strive for a low sugar diet.
The Sugar Addiction Danger
One of the dangers of sugar is that it competes for entrance with Vitamin C into our white blood cells. Our kids need a daily dose of Vitamin C to keep their immune systems functioning well, but if they are intaking lots of added sugars, the white cells can’t get what they need to fight back.
Achieving a low sugar diet can actually be an immune system booster for our kids. Consider this fact: the average American child gets 6-10 colds/year, lasting an average length of 1-3 weeks each. Yikes. We could definitely be doing more to help our kids stay healthy.
Another nasty side effect is that sugars can adversely affect the brain function of our kids. Studies have found that our brains do not function well when they are swimming in insulin. We need to be giving our kids better brain food rather than increasing their insulin levels.
An even greater growing danger is the rise in cancer rates among children. Cancer loves sugar and feeds on it. Each year, about 10,000 kids are diagnosed with this disease. Let’s not continue to feed it.
What’s A Parent To Do?
There are some really easy diet changes that you can make for your kids, and these changes can make a huge difference in the battle against sugar.
Some Starting Places:
- Eliminate all soft drinks (most sugars consumed come from these)
- Choose cereals with at least 7 g/fiber per serving (still be mindful of sugar content here too)
- Choose breads with at least 3 g/fiber per serving
- Replace all fruit juices with water (These are all high in sugar and low in fiber.)
- Switch out highly refined sugars for more natural ones.
- Avoid artificial sweeteners: splenda (sucralose) and aspartame