When I was a kid, I loved, loved, LOVED Kool-Aid in the summer time. Red was my favorite flavor, mostly because I liked what it did to my lips and tongue, but I would happily consume purple or orange as well. My mother didn’t really monitor how much I drank, mostly because she worked upwards of 80 hours a week and left my cousin and me to our own devices and with our grandfather, who also didn’t pay much attention to us. I’m not sure what made us think that Kool-Aid needed more sugar (maybe as 9 year olds, we related to it as “juice” that required some doctoring), but after pouring the packet into a pitcher of tap water, we systematically added 1 heaping cup of white sugar to the mix. You know, to make it taste better. I’m so aghast by this memory, that it’s hard for me to even allow my brain to recall the snowfall of all of that processed white stuff.
We drank a pitcher of this Kool-Aid every day the summer after 4th grade.
Both my cousin and I are blessed with pretty decent genes and, in spite of this daily dose of crazy-making sugar overload, we stayed pretty trim throughout our childhoods (albeit, very energetic a.k.a. hyper). It seems almost obvious to say that too much sugar is bad for you - we’ve been hearing that bit for years now - but it seems that too much of it can be bad for you in ways that go beyond rotten teeth and unbridled bouncing off the wall energy. SugarScience.org is aiming to bring comprehensive information on sugar and how it directly relates to our health - and the verdict is not good. Too much sugar hits the usual suspects of debilitating obesity and diabetes, but it can also lead to the heart and liver diseases - typically attributed to smoking and alcohol. By overloading our critical and purifying organs, sugar taxes our systems and with excessive and long-term consumption, can lead to organ failure. Given that the average American consumes pounds and pounds of added sugar per year, this situation is so much worse than getting a cavity.
Sugar is often hidden in packaged foods (listed in a variety of different names) and is likely the second ingredient in sodas or flavored drinks, right after water. According to SugarScience, drinking your sugar is one of the most dangerous methods of consumption. Even though an apple, for instance, contains sugar, the fiber slows down the absorption of it and allows the body ample reprieve, while sugary drinks serve like a hailstorm of sweetness onto your liver and beyond. Triglycerides are produced in reaction to the influx of sugar to the bloodstream, and if not burned up as fuel, become heaps of fat in our organs and blood stream. In short, it’s a gross hot mess.
Sugar is addictive and makes you feel good…until you don’t and then need some more. The more you have, the more it takes to feel better, so you keep buying those cookies or bread products or juices, and the sugar cycle continues. Indulging is fine in moderation, but it’s about having the information on not only what you eat, but how you eat it and then making some big changes. Pay attention to what you eat and drink in a day, and notice how much sugar managed to sneak in. Do you heart and liver the right thing and get familiar with the facts, read your labels, avoid the middle of your grocery store, get your sweet fixes with some fruit and skip the extra teaspoon of sugar in your morning coffee. Get in the know with your food and all that’s in it, and you’ll be happier for it.