According to a lot of the popular media we are all eating way too much of all types of sugar in our diets and it is responsible for a wide range of illnesses including heart disease and diabetes.
At first glance, it seems that such claims are accurate. According to a 2009 report by the American Heart Association, between 2001 and 2004 the average American averaged 22 teaspoons of all types of sugar daily, equal to 355 calories. In this same report, the AHA makes very specific recommendations about suggested daily sugar intake broken down by ages, sex, and level of daily activity.
But not all types of sugar is created equal. Sugar is a natural substance in any number of foods such as vegetables, fruit, or whole grains and these sugars are not covered in the AHA’s report. The “added sugars” the AHA is targeting, and the type that it seems everyone loves to hate are the refined sugars that show up in already fatty foods like ice cream, doughnuts, and the like.
So just how bad is refined sugar? There is new research being touted by many that claim all types of sugar is “addictive” much like a drug and there is research that points to humans having a very powerful preference for a sweet taste. The origin of this preference is not really known but it may have begun in pre-history to lead the proto humans of the time to sweet fruits as a natural source of calories and energy.
Whether this preference for the sweetness of sugar rises to the level of a true addiction is still open to debate. Some animal studies indicate that it may be a possibility as researchers have noted changes in the animal’s brains when they are given occasional access to sugar.
Studies have shown that certain individuals continue to use products containing refined sugar despite their understanding that such behaviors may cause negative results with their health. But, once again, is this evidence of addiction? After all, doing without all types of sugar does not seem to trigger the same withdrawal symptoms associated with more destructive habit forming drugs.
The bottom line is that the jury is still undecided on whether a true dependence on sugar can or should be defined as an “addiction” but one thing is clear; For the great majority of us, our diets unquestionably contain way more sugar than is healthy or necessary and we can certainly benefit from a healthier diet.
To this end adding smoothies to your daily meal plans will accomplish a lot. First, creating your smoothies out of healthy fruits, vegetables, and other natural ingredients will satisfy anyone’s sweet tooth without adding refined sugar. Next, the ingredients themselves (fruits and vegetables) are exactly the ones that we need more of in our diets. Third, smoothies are ridiculously easy to make, taking no time at all. Fourth, smoothies are perhaps the perfect vehicle for including dietary supplements like Chia seed, Flax, and Whey. These super healthy ingredients virtually disappear into most smoothies with a minimum of fuss and bother.
In the end what you put in your body is a very personal decision. The right, healthy, choices will promote good healthy and prolong your life while the wrong, unhealthy, choices will do you harm.