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Feed Your Face: Is Sugar Toxic?

By Dr Jessica Wu

Those of you who are familiar with my book Feed Your Face, know that I’ve warned about the dangers of eating sugar when it comes to fighting acne, wrinkles, rashes, and other skin conditions. Now some public health experts believe not only that we're eating too much sugar but that it’s actually toxic. In a commentary published in a recent issue of the scientific journal Nature, researchers from the University of California at San Francisco propose that sugar should be regulated in the same manner as other addictive substances, such as alcohol and tobacco. They’ve even called for the government to tax foods and drinks containing added sugar, to ban the sale of these items in or near schools, and to set age limits on their purchase. While these suggestions may seem extreme, studies do show that 75 percent of health care dollars are spent on diseases linked to diet.

The problem isn’t the naturally occurring sugars found in fruit or in complex carbohydrates like whole grains. Rather, the culprit is table sugar and the added sugars, including high-fructose corn syrup, found in processed foods. These types of sugars are primarily broken down in the liver, and their overconsumption can eventually wear out the liver and lead to insulin resistance, diabetes, and obesity. The researchers point out that the average American consumes 600 calories a day in added sugars, equal to 40 teaspoons of table sugar. Much of this is hidden in processed foods, even salty or savory foods, such as chips, crackers, soups, salad dressings, dips, lunch meats, and protein bars and drinks. How can you lower your intake? Learn to read labels, avoid processed foods, and choose foods in their natural form as much as possible; also, try to steer clear of sugary foods, drinks, and snacks, or those containing high-fructose corn syrup.

For more on sugar and your skin, check out Feed Your Face.

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