Question: How much sugar does the average adult consume daily?
Answer: 22.2 teaspoons

Question: What is the recommended amount ?
Answer: For women:  6.25 teaspoons   For men: 9.4 teaspoons

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Wowza. That’s a lot of sugar. You might be thinking about your food intake and wondering where that sugar is coming from. Actually, you may be surprised– it’s everywhere: in canned soups; canned tomatoes, vegetables and fruits; condiments such as ketchup; spaghetti sauce; granola bars; cereals; packaged foods; sweets; candy; sodas; juices, in your coffee, etc. It all adds up to a whopping amount of sugar.

It’s probably not a surprise that eating too much refined sugar is bad for your health. But just as a reminder, eating too much refined white sugar can lead to diabetes or hypoglycemia, causes hyperactivity in children, promotes tooth decay, contributes to weight gain and obesity, and is linked to cardiovascular disease and many other illnesses.

Eating a teaspoon of white sugar can suppress white blood cells for six hours, thus suppressing the immune system and increasing the likelihood of catching a cold or a virus.

What is refined sugar? It does come from the sugar cane plant. In its raw state, thick cane sugar is a dark syrup called black molasses. Black molasses is further refined into the white crystals we are all familiar with, but in the refining and bleaching, the sugar has been stripped of its nutrients; sugar is devoid of fiber, minerals, and vitamins.

Fruits and carbohydrates have fiber, which slows down the consumption of sugar in the body. But refined sugar, which has been stripped of all its nutrients, does not possess this property. The sugar rapidly enters the bloodstream and the body responds by pumping more insulin, which leads to the crash often felt after a sugar high. If your body must continue to respond in this manner due to the high sugar consumption, eventually your immune system will become depressed and you will become ill more often, and you could develop hypoglycemia, candidiasis, or eventually diabetes.

And even scarier? Scientists say that 1 in 3 children born in 2000 will develop diabetes, if they continue in today’s current overeating and underactive lifestyle. But that’s not all… even a person at age 60 has a 1 in 5 chance of developing diabetes. (source:

So what can be done?

Much can be done. The good news is that diabetes is a preventable disease.

Here are a few suggestions:

1. Add alternative sweeteners to your diet, but not artificial sweeteners. Artificial sweeteners have another entirely different set of side effects, so avoid these. Suggested alternative sweeteners include:

  • Agave nectar (although some wouldn’t include it on the list, it is also refined)
  • Stevia
  • Raw organic honey (regular honey is a simple sugar)
  • Date sugar
  • Palm/Coconut sugar
  • Maple Syrup
  • Molasses
  • Sucanat or evaporated cane juice crystals.

The goal is not to eliminate sugar entirely, but to replace it with healthier options.

2. Remove as many processed products from your home as you can that contain refined sugar. Replace them with whole foods and grains. If it isn’t there, you won’t eat it, right?

3. Bake your own treats using the alternative sweeteners. Yes, this is more time consuming and not as convenient as purchasing something already packaged, but you’ll be doing yourself a huge favor.

4. Choose lower glycemic fruits, such as apples, pears, peaches and berries, over higher glycemic ones, like melons, bananas, and raisins. Avoid fruit juices that have concentrated sugar.

Now, I have to admit– I do have some refined sugar at home and still use it in baking. But, I also have other sweeteners: Agave, Maple Syrup, honey, and Turbinado sugar, and I’m gradually switching to less dependency on the refined sugar. I use Turbinado to sweeten my coffee or tea daily and I have ordered some evaporated cane juice crystals from a natural grain supplier, which will be available for use in baking. I’m looking forward to the healthy change!

Skip the candy bars, M&M’s, the afternoon soda, Gatorade, the morning doughnuts at the office, the cupcakes at a party… and after a short time, you’ll notice the craving for sugar will disappear, and you’ll feel better, sleep better, and have more energy.

Remember: eliminating (or greatly reducing) refined white sugar is a lifestyle change and it isn’t very easy, since sugar is sneaked into so many foods, but it surely isn’t impossible, either, or even such a difficult thing to do– many people have done it and lived to tell the tale. In fact, they may live even longer to share their stories. 🙂

You will have to learn to make your own treats and make smart choices if eating out at restaurants. But, if you are eliminating refined sugar (and eating a variety of whole grains as recommended on Day 1), and eating the alternative sweeteners in moderation, you’re on the road to better health in the long term!


{Day 11 of 31 Days of Healthier Living}

Question for you: Do you still use refined white sugar primarily? Have you tried other sweeteners? What would convince you to switch and eat less refined sugar?