While reading recent headlines encouraging people to eliminate sugar from their diets, I thought, "Here we go again!" When it comes to the topic of obesity, I understand that influential people want to shed light on the issue to evoke a solution. But we have to understand that this issue is much more complex than eliminating one food or ingredient from our diets. It's important to consider the science-based data when looking for a solution.
Sugar has been a part of our diet for over 2,000 years. It's hard to believe that sugar was once hard to find, very expensive and was even considered a luxury food. Yet in modern times, sugar has transformed itself into the No. 1 public enemy. But is sugar really to blame for the weight and health struggles present in our times? Will eliminating sugar solve the health problems of the nation? As I said, the answer is not that simple.
Most people don't understand the important function carbohydrates play in our diet. The human body is fueled and is based on glucose, and this molecule is responsible for the great taste we recognize as being sweet. The human body works on energy, energy that is released after glucose metabolization.
We use energy for everything we do -- from walking to cooking, and carbohydrates are our main source of this energy. Sugar is a carbohydrate that is present naturally in all fruits and vegetables with different concentrations of sugar. Although some carbohydrates are in milk, most carbohydrates are in plant foods. Fruits, vegetables, grain products, dry beans, nuts and seeds all have carbohydrates. The bottom line is that carbohydrates (sugar) are an essential element of our sustenance, particularly critical for physical energy and brain power. The key is moderation.
In order to improve and maintain a healthy body, there is a need for balanced eating as well as engaging in physical activity. That means we can still have a piece of cake at the birthday party or a can of soda when out to dinner. To keep a balanced diet, we should try to include a variety of foods that contain carbohydrates, proteins, healthy fats, vitamins and minerals, keeping in mind that moderation is most important, not the demise of sugar.
After decades of extensive research, the science still demonstrates that the best way to achieve a healthy lifestyle is to decrease your calorie intake while increasing your activity level, not by eliminating important nutrients or favorite foods from our diets. Just remember to eat a variety of foods in moderation while choosing an active lifestyle.