Maria Cardenas patient



Added Sugars- Are They Actually Sweet?


Sugars are carbohydrates that are found in many forms and in many different types of foods. Carbohydrates can be classified as simple or complex when referring to how many molecules are chemically bonded together. Foods like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains all contain sugar and our bodies use them as a steady source of energy. Added sugars are what we should limit in our diets as these have been shown by studies to increase our risk for heart disease, diabetes, obesity, Alzheimer's and tooth decay. Knowing the effects certain foods have on our bodies is a big component to leading a longer and healthier life and as I recently began a sugar detox diet I have started to dive into how sugar can overall affect our health.


A study that was published by JAMA International Medicine in 2014 concluded that in “over the course of a 15-year study, people who got 17% to 21% of their calories from added sugar had a 38% higher risk from dying from cardiovascular disease…” Added sugars typically do not have any nutritional benefit and are referred to as ‘empty calories’ because of this. Foods with empty calories make it difficult for our bodies to feel fully satiated and can lead to constant cravings and overeating. Our body uses the same enzyme to break down sugar and carbohydrates as it does to break down the plaque in our brains so when we ingest foods high in these, the enzymes temporarily stop digesting the plaque in our brains to digest the sugar causing that lethargic feeling we often get after that big plate of pasta. Alzheimer’s is a result of accumulation of plaque in our brains and when we have diets high in sugars that plaque will continue to accumulate due to the temporary cessation of enzyme activity. It can be challenging to completely cut out sugar from our diets but there are things we can do to help.



Eliminating added sugars from our diets can be tricky because our bodies create a ‘need’ for it and if we cut down too fast we will develop cravings for more refined starches. Slowly reducing added sugars may be more manageable and these are helpful ways of doing it:

  1. Drink a lot of water. Often when we crave sugars it is a sign of dehydration and cold water will eliminate that urge.
  2. If we are to drink fruit juice, we should make sure that it is 100% fruit juice and not from concentrate. If we are able to eat the fruit instead that is even better because we will also be benefiting from the fiber content that fruit has to offer.
  3. When choosing breakfast cereals, go for cereals with less sugar.
  4. Have fresh fruit for dessert instead of other foods high in added sugars such as cakes, ice cream, cookies and chocolates.
  5. Choose nutrient rich snacks- vegetables, fruits, low fat cheeses, whole grain crackers and low fat yogurts to name a few.
  6. READ FOOD LABELS. We should limit the intake of food labels that include ingredients like brown sugar, corn sweetener, fruit juice concentrates, high-fructose corn syrup, honey, invert sugar, malt sugar, molasses syrup and sugar molecules ending in ‘-ole’ (dextrose, maltose, lactose, fructose, and sucrose).

In conclusion, added sugars are not as sweet as they taste and taking these steps can significantly help us to feel better and more energized on a daily basis but more importantly help to live a longer and healthier life!

email_signature_-DR.-Maria-Cadenas--DMD (1)