Sugar Shock—Sweets and Your Health

Here are two not-so-sweet facts to contemplate:

  1. We all know we should “eat less sugar.” Yet sugar and its ubiquitous co-sweetener, high fructose corn syrup, are in so many of the foods crowding our supermarket shelves.
  2. Most people could not tell you how much sugar they eat each day, or what this sugar intake might be doing to their health.

For some time now, nutritional scientists have known that excessive sugar consumption undermines our health. Just how sugar does this depends on the type of sugar we eat, how much we eat, genetic predispositions to certain conditions, and other factors.

A recent TIME article, “How Sweet Can Become Toxic,” highlighted some new research on sugar conducted at the University of Utah and published in Nature Communications. In the study, mice ate a diet approximately equal to our average diet (figuring on about 3 sodas a day) of 25% sugar. 25% sugar is a high amount, but many people might be surprised that their diet falls into this category. After 58 weeks, the sugar-inundated mice had a twice as high mortality rate as the mice who had not been fed this extra sugar. The 25% sugar diet wreaked havoc on their life span.

What’s more, the extra sugar significantly affected the male mice, dropping their reproductive rates. Scientists reported that the male mice had a harder time competing in their environment. We know that increased sugar/high fructose corn syrup consumption contributes to obesity, fatty liver conditions, insulin resistance, diabetes risk, and heart health problems, but this report also points to hormonal problems caused by sugar.

The long and short of the new research on sugar is that we are still uncovering what this major part of the Standard American Diet (SAD) does to our overall health and longevity. We have come to understand that cigarette smoking and alcohol consumption will damage our health and shorten our lives, but could sugar be similarly toxic?

Knowledge is Sweet
A big step in managing your and your family’s health is to know how much sugar you’re eating every day. That’s easy, right? Just check the “sugars” line on the back of your food package…right? Unfortunately, no. Other carbohydrates in our foods are processed as sugars in the body, making the “sugars” line only part of the equation.

Here is the new, fool-proof equation you can use to quickly uncover just how much sugar your foods contain:

Total Carbs minus Total Fiber… divided by 5 = Number of teaspoons of sugar

Aim to keep your sugar intake about 10-15 teaspoons a day (do the math and many of us are consuming closer to 30 teaspoons!) by increasing the amount of lean protein, nuts, vegetables, fiber-rich grains/seeds such as flax and chia you eat. And the easiest way to cut down on sugars? Cut way down on processed foods, or the number of foods you buy that come in a box, can, or package.

Source: “How Sweet Can Become Toxic,” TIME Health & Family, Aug 2013.

4 Point Fish Oil Checklist for Optimum Heart Health

The omega-3s in fish oil are some of the most powerful heart support nutrients you can take and many of us simply aren’t getting enough of them. In her new PBS health special, Heart of Perfect Health, Brenda Watson reveals that an estimated that 84,000 people a year die from a lack of omega-3 in their diet.

So where do we get omega-3? It’s found in cold water fish such as salmon, sardines, and mackerel, in flax seeds, and in certain nuts such as walnuts. Experts recommend 1,000 mg or more of omega-3 each day for optimum heart health support, an amount that can be difficult to get from diet alone.

Many are now turning to a fish oil supplement to help boost their omega-3 intake. Omega-3 fatty acids play a crucial role in the overall health of the body.ǂ They are integrated into the membranes of almost every type of cell in the body, helping to balance the excessive omega-6 fatty acids that come from the Standard American Diet (SAD).

Scientific research confirms that Omega-3 supplementation supports heart health by helping to maintain healthy cholesterol, triglyceride and blood pressure levels already in the normal range.ǂ Omega-3s help maintain these key markers by supporting the body’s normal  inflammatory response, promoting optimal heart, blood vessel, and joint health.ǂ

Your 4 Point Fish Oil Checklist

Not all omega-3 fish oils are created equal. Use this checklist to ensure you are getting the most heart health benefits out of your fish oil:

  • Potency. Make sure each fish oil capsule contains at least 1,000 mg of omega-3, not just 1,000 mg of fish oil. Reaching your recommended 1,000+ mg of daily omega-3 is pretty tough to do if you have to take a whole handful of fish or krill oil capsules with a low omega 3 content.
  • Absorption. You are only what you absorb. Choose a fish oil that is enteric coated to help deliver omega-3s to the intestines where they are absorbed.ǂ Enteric coating also reduces the fishy burping or repeat you can get with fish oil supplements.
  • Vitamin D3. Vitamin D3 helps to promote the body’s healthy inflammatory response as well as supports the immune system  and strong bones.ǂ  A fish oil with added vitamin D3 is ideal because this vitamin is best absorbed when taken with healthy fats, such as omega 3s.ǂ
  • Highest Purity. Look for a fish oil with the International Fish Oil Standards (IFOS) stamp. IFOS is the industry’s most stringent independent certifier of fish oil quality that promises you aren’t getting the mercury, PCBs, and contaminants that show up in certain fish oil sources.

Norwegian Gold EPA 1000 meets all the above criteria plus it contains a pure blend of omega-3 EPA , which has been clinically researched for its specific heart health benefits.ǂ