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Brenda Watson’s acclaimed Heart of Perfect Health PBS health exposé is airing throughout March on PBS stations nationwide and in it she talks sugar. Most of us don’t link heart and cardiovascular disease risk to our sugar intake, but it turns out that blood sugar levels affect far more than just your risk of diabetes.

High blood sugar is a major sign of the underlying cause of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and other conditions. This risk factor is silent, causes no pain, and most people have no idea if it’s happening to them or not. It’s called silent inflammation and it starts in the gut.

The two types of inflammation:

  • Acute inflammation happens when you smash your finger and blood flow rushes to the site, healing the injury.
  • Silent inflammation happens internally and often originates in the gut as a result of a leaky gut, or intestines that have become too permeable due to a poor diet, lack of gut-healing nutrients, stress, and other factors. Silent inflammation does not heal itself. You can’t feel silent inflammation or see it.

The signs of silent inflammation include high blood cholesterol, high blood pressure, and high blood sugar. High blood sugar makes blood vessels stiff and weak, increases blood pressure and harmful cholesterol, weakens immunity and digestion, and causes weight gain. Most importantly high blood sugar is a major preventable risk factor for heart disease, yet very few of us are checking our fasting blood sugar levels regularly.

How Much Sugar Should I Eat?

The best way to begin lowering your fasting blood sugar/glucose levels is to monitor your daily sugar intake. Your fasting blood sugar should be no higher than 85 and you should be consuming no more than 10 teaspoon of sugar each day. That’s total sugars, including the pastas and breads you eat that are converted to sugar. You may be surprised to learn that many of us are consuming over 37 teaspoons of sugar daily!

Packaged foods are labeled according to grams of sugar and carbohydrates, not teaspoons. Use this quick sugar conversion formula to find out exactly how much true sugar is in your food:

Total grams of carbs – Total grams of fiber
------------------------------------------------  =  Total teaspoons of sugar
                     5

That’s the total grams of carbs minus the total grams of fiber listed in the nutrition facts, all divided by 5. This will give you the total teaspoons of sugar in a serving of that food. It’s important to take the total grams of carbs, not total grams of sugar when you are doing your conversion. That way, you are taking into account the sugars that break down from carbohydrates in addition to sugars themselves.

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