Is it time to pull that sweet tooth?
You may have heard that “sugar is the new smoking” in terms of a national health care crisis, but how accurate is that? Let’s take a look at some of the numbers: It’s estimated that 30 to 40% of all healthcare spending in the US is related to the excess consumption of sugar, about $1 trillion dollars a year. We spend that money fighting type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome and coronary heart disease, for starters. Additionally, as sugar is a major contributor toward obesity, we’re spending billions addressing high cholesterol, high blood pressure and liver disease. Studies also suggest that excessive sugar consumption can fuel the growth of some cancer tumors.
How did we get here?
In 1822 Americans consumed an estimated 45 grams of sugar every five days – about the equivalent of one can of today’s sodas. In the nearly two centuries since, sugar consumption has risen steadily, especially over the past 30 years. By 2012 that number was about 765 grams of sugar every five days. Which means that today’s average American is ingesting between 130 and 170 pounds of sugar each year. Over the course of a lifetime, that’s about 1.8 million Skittles! Unless you’re Marshawn Lynch, that’s way too many Skittles.
“If God hadn’t meant for us to eat sugar, he wouldn’t have invented dentists.” – Consumer advocate Ralph Nader (who, in spite of an evident sweet tooth, has advocated against excess sugar in soft drinks).
Modern dentists make big bucks filling cavities, and recent studies have suggested that sugar is the only cause of tooth decay. Sugar contributes to decay by fueling bacteria in the plaque in our teeth. 20 seconds after we eat sugar, these bacteria create acid that eats at the enamel protecting our teeth. The acid lasts for about 30 minutes. Yuck!
But wait, we’re not going to just give up sugar! Cookies are fantastic! Chocolate is amazing! Ice cream is heavenly! We have 10,000 taste buds in our mouths and they all want to get in the game! What would The Archies say?
Like most things, sugar is fine in moderation. It’s only when we use too much of it that we can do damage to ourselves. Sugar is a key part of the fermentation process we use to make Humm kombucha. But kombucha has only a fraction of the sugar found in soft drinks and fruit juice, and, unlike those sugary soft drinks, kombucha contains lots of stuff that’s good for you, such as vitamin B and antioxidants. Kombucha is a healthy way to treat yourself without loading up on sugar.
Sugar is one of life’s great pleasures, but it’s important that we monitor how much we use. Being healthy doesn’t have to mean giving up everything you enjoy. It just means being conscious of what you’re putting into your body so you can get the most out of it.
A spoonful of sugar may help the medicine go down, but too many spoonfuls and you’re going to need a lot more medicine!