Dr. Oz: The Shocking Facts About Our Sugar Addiction

Dr. Oz: The Shocking Facts About Our Sugar Addiction

If sour news about added fructose – the sugary menace that messes with your liver, boosts blood pressure and stiffens arteries – has you reading food nutrition labels to uncover where it’s hiding, you’ve got the right idea, but nutrition labels don’t make it easy to figure out the amount of sugars added to foods.

Drs. Oz & Roizen

Dr. Michael Roizen & Dr. Mehmet Oz

Sugars may be labeled as everything from fructose to agave nectar, dextrose or cane crystals. And although health advocates are calling for better labeling, we don’t think you should wait to start removing added sugars and sugar syrups – like high-fructose corn syrup – from your pantry and your plate. They have no health benefit, and data show they are almost always bad for your long-term health.

Why is added sugar bad for you? It alters essential proteins throughout the body, and that keeps ’em from being fully functional for you. Case in point: People with diabetes get their hemoglobin A1C measured every three months or so to see how well they’re controlling their blood sugar levels. What they’re measuring is the sugar (glucose) that’s attached to hemoglobin proteins (part of your red blood cells). If your glucose levels are too high (your reading will be above 7 percent) then the sugar is interfering with hemoglobin protein doing its job delivering of oxygen to your cells. High A1C levels let you know that glucose is damaging your blood vessels, organs, the brain – you name it.

But it’s not just people with diabetes who have to worry about sugar damage, and it’s not just high-fructose corn syrup that causes the problem; it’s any sugar in excess. So here’s our rundown of gotta-know-’em facts about sugars, and fructose in particular.

Dr. Oz: The Shocking Facts About Our Sugar AddictionFructose, found in high-fructose corn syrup and table sugar, as well as in brown sugar, honey, maple syrup and trendy “alternative” sweeteners like agave syrup and turbinado sugar, taxes your body, because liver cells process fructose and turn excess fructose into fat. That wasn’t a problem 50 years ago, when we picked up a smidge of fructose from fruit, vegetables and the occasional slice of pie. Today, we consume four to five times more.

The new fructose fall-out:

-A fat-choked liver. An overload of fructose is a big reason why more than 30 percent of adults in North America have built up fat in the liver – triggering liver disease and cirrhosis. A fructose overload zaps energy the liver needs to filter your blood and build essential proteins.

-Blood-pressure boost. Downing 2 1/2 cans of fructose-drenched soda a day increases your risk of high blood pressure by up to 77 percent, a major cause of stroke, heart attack, memory loss, wrinkles and impotence. Plus, fructose paves the way for type 2 diabetes by overloading cells that are inhibiting blood sugar absorption.

Ready to ditch this shocking sugar?

Switch to sugar-free sips. Steering clear of sodas and other sugar-sweetened beverages – such as fruit juice drinks, sweet teas and bottled smoothies – could cut 40 percent of added sweeteners from your diet. (If you currently drink sweetened sodas, a diet soda or two a day is a better choice, saving you from up to 66 grams of HFCS.)

Spell dessert F-R-U-I-T! Tasty fresh or frozen (without sweeteners) fruit is packed with a truckload of nutrients. Yes, fruit’s sweetness comes in part from fructose, but the quantities are small (a cup of blackberries has 3.5 grams, a small apple about 9 grams) and the fiber helps keep blood sugar lower and steadier.

If you just can’t kick sugar cold turkey, spread out a max of 20 grams (a smidge more than three teaspoons) of pure cane sugar over the course of a day. And don’t eat anything with more than 4 grams per serving of any added sugar or consume more than 4 grams of added sugar in any hour. And remember: Zero-calorie sweeteners – we like stevia – in moderation are not as disastrous to your proteins, their functions or health as sugar.

– Dr. Michael Roizen & Dr. Mehmet Oz

© 2012 Michael Roizen, M.D. and Mehmet Oz, M.D. Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.

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  • hungry for the truth

    thanks for the reminder, I am type 1 and I am on just 5 units of sugar that is one reward of not using sugar or starch, potatoes, rice and white flour we just don’t need it and is only there to rob the people and cause all kinds of problems eat raw veg, fruit no animal products or dairy no sugar laden products they get rich and we pay the price thanks for article

  • louise

    this is very good information for us that have celiac

  • Justiceforall

    A diet soda is a better choice? Are you kidding?

  • NorthernHealthBlitz

    I agree with justiceforall: “Diet soda as a better choice?!! The articial crap in diet sodas is known to be quite a threat as well isn’t it?

  • Justice and Northern Health Blitz, we absolutely agree that diet sodas are not the best choice. Above all, water is the single best choice for your beverage. However, what Oz is pointing out is for the folks that are die-hard soda drinkers, the next step would be to switch to diet-soda, then after that proceed to cutting that out. We understand some folks can’t stop their addictions cold turkey, so a gradual process is needed sometimes. Diet-soda has its evils with artificial sweeteners like Aspartame, which if you can, you should avoid. Thanks for the feedback 🙂