33% of the world’s population has high blood pressure, whereas only 5% had it in 1900. Diabetes has increased from 153 million people in 1980, to 347 million today. Two out of three adults and one out of three children in the United States are overweight or obese, and the nation spends an estimated $190 billion a year treating obesity-related health conditions. Why have these illnesses skyrocketed? One of the main reasons is massive consumption of sugar. The average American eats 22.7 teaspoons of sugar a day. Most of this sugar consumption is in the form of processed foods and sugary drinks. To put this in perspective, 22.7 teaspoons of sugar is found in the following natural foods: 7 red apples, 454 eggs, 1,135 cups of rice or 27 ears of corn!

In the 1960s, there was a push for blaming cholesterol on the rising rates of obesity and heart disease. Consequently, fat makes up a much smaller portion of the American diet today, but the number of obese individuals continues to rise. Many leading experts in this field, including nephrologist, Dr. Richard Johnson agree that sugar is to blame. He claims that fructose, in particular, is to blame when it comes to wreaking havoc on our bodies.

Table sugar is equal parts fructose and glucose. High fructose corn syrup or HFCS is approximately 55% fructose and 45% sucrose. Fructose is the natural sugar found in fruits and some vegetables, and is perfectly healthy in small quantities. The problem arises when the body is left to handle increased amounts of fructose. Glucose can be metabolized throughout the body, but fructose has to be handled in the liver. Eating too much fructose in quickly digested forms like soft drinks and processed foods results in the excess production of triglyceride fats. Some of those fats stay in the liver, causing liver damage, and others are pushed into the blood stream. This causes high blood pressure, insulin resistance and diabetes.

Sugar isn’t just empty calories; sugar is a poison when consumed in high doses and is toxic to our systems. Some solutions to decrease your sugar intake: avoid all foods that contain HFCS, which can be difficult if you eat a lot of processed and fast foods. Avoid fat-free products, they often times contain large amounts of added sugar. Use natural sweeteners such as raw sugar, local honey and grade B maple syrup. And, finally, please don’t use sugar substitutes. These products are synthetic, processed garbage that contain zero calories, but actually shut off chemicals that tell you when you are full, resulting in over eating and weight gain.

Watch this video to learn about the hidden sources of sugar and the concept of natural sucrose and processed sugar:

Sugar Showdown: Whole Vs. Processed Foods