Sucrose (table sugar) is one of the most dangerous substances on the planet. In fact, a wealth of evidence shows eating it can increase your risk of suffering from any number of chronic diseases, including cancer, heart disease, and Type II diabetes.
And sadly, a new study pointed out that today’s children may be more susceptible to developing these sugar-induced diseases.
Children today have a fierce sweet tooth
For this new study, U.S. researchers recruited 500 children, teens, and adults between the ages of seven and 67 years.
First, they gave the participants water that contained different concentrations of sugar.
Then, they determined the participants’ “sensitivity” in detecting sugar. (In other words, how low of a concentration of sugar could they detect in water.) They also noted the participants’ “preferred” concentration of sugar in water.
It turns out, the adults in the study could detect the taste of a sugar cube dissolved in 56 ounces of water.
By comparison, the children in the study could only taste a sugar cube when it was dissolved in just 40 ounces. That’s a 40 percent greater concentration of sugar!
In addition, as you might expect, the children also “preferred” their drinks much sweeter than the adults.
Specifically, the children preferred 12 sugar cubes mixed into 8 ounces of water, while the adults preferred eight sugar cubes in 8 ounces of water. And that’s a 50 percent greater concentration of sugar! (Interestingly, most regular soft drinks contain a concentration equivalent to about eight cubes of sugar into 8 ounces of water…the same as what the adults preferred. And you already know how sugary sodas are. Yet children prefer even more sweetness!)
I find this study very alarming for a few different reasons…
For one, previous studies show that a person’s “sensitivity” and “preference” for sweets develops during childhood and adolescence. So, these findings suggest that children today already have developed an extreme and unhealthy “preference” for sweets…even before reaching adulthood! In addition, they have a lower “sensitivity” to it. So, they may be headed for even greater rates of obesity, cancer, heart disease, and Type II diabetes than what we see in today’s adult population.
Second, it shows that children today are simply consuming way too much sugar. Of course, it’s not their fault. For decades, the sugar industry aggressively marketed mass-produced, ultra-processed, sugar-laden products to children and adults alike. Plus, as I’ve reported before, big sugar paid off Harvard researchers in the 1960s to cover up the major role sugar plays in the development of disease. So, not enough was widely recognized about the dangers of sugar until more recently.
Beware of all the sugar that abounds
No matter your age, preferring—and craving—sugar is a bad sign for your metabolic health. It can even be the first sign of insulin resistance.
So, if you have children or grandchildren, I suggest keeping the amount of processed sweet confections they consume to an absolute minimum. And only allow them as a rare, occasional treat. (Remember, fresh fruit is a great, healthy-yet-sweet option to offer instead. And fructose, the natural sugar found in fruit, does not need to be avoided, like sucrose in table sugar and confections.)
When it comes to adults, you should aim to limit your intake of sucrose completely. (You can, however, feel free to enjoy some dark chocolate that contains 75 to 85 percent cacao as a healthy treat.)
Typically, for adults, a complete sugar detox takes about 30 days. After that point, your “sugar threshold” should drop, and your ability to detect smaller amounts of sugar should improve. In other words, your palate recalibrates, so you can taste the natural sweetness in foods you couldn’t before! It should also help reduce your urge to consume sugary foods.
To help keep your sugar in check, follow a balanced, Mediterranean-type diet filled with healthy, wholesome, satisfying foods, including moderate amounts of:
- Full-fat, whole–milk dairy, including butter, eggs, cheeses, and plain yogurt. (Remember, in the Mediterranean, they typically eat cheese as an “after-meal “treat,” and desserts are small and rare.)
- Wild-caught fish and seafood.
- Grass-fed and -finished, free-range, organic beef, chicken, and especially lamb; lamb has the best nutritional profile of all meats. (Although it is completely neglected as a key part of the Mediterranean diet.)
- Nuts and seeds.
- Six to eight servings of fresh fruits and vegetables each day.
- Alcohol, in moderation.
Again, the natural sugar (fructose) found in whole fruits and their natural biomatrix of fibers don’t cause the same metabolic impacts as sucrose. So, children and adults alike should enjoy whole, fresh fruits daily. Their natural “sweetness” should be more than enough to satisfy any sweet tooth.
Of course, if you live up North, it’s still a little early in the year to find local, fresh fruit. So, maybe you can find someone to ship you a crate of fresh-picked citrus fruits from Florida, as Gen. “Stonewall” Jackson did during the Civil War. (Jackson’s contacts in Florida used to ship him crates of lemons. Jackson used them to make lemonade without any added sugar. Or often, he’d just eat the lemons whole, as one would eat an orange.)
Since we’re in Florida, I’m picking out and shipping some fresh oranges, grapefruits, and berries (the strawberry harvest is now in full swing) from local farms and orchards to our family and friends up North.
A former legal colleague of mine used to do the same for me after I left my position as Florida state medical examiner in Miami-Dade County. Every holiday season, he used to ship a crate of citrus fruits to our house in Maryland. And like Stonewall Jackson, we were happy for the shipment.
P.S. Controlling your sugar intake will translate to better overall metabolic health. For additional, uncommonly effective, commonsense strategies to help keep your blood sugar in check, I encourage you to take a look at my Integrative Protocol for Defeating Diabetes. To learn more about this innovative, online learning tool, or to enroll today, click here now!
“Relationship between Sucrose Taste Detection Thresholds and Preferences in Children, Adolescents, and Adults.” Nutrients, 2020, 12(7), 1918; doi.org/10.3390/nu12071918