Immune Boost Week: What’s So Bad About…Excessive Sugar

Immune Boost Week: What’s So Bad About…Excessive Sugar

Since my SPC gig began, I’ve noticed that invitations to friends’ houses have been on the decline.  People apologize for feeding me pizza or giving my kids cookies. I don’t imagine telling you how bad sugar is, is going to win any of you back. I just want to say, that it is ok to feed my kids pizza and give them a treat. I certainly do. That said, treats are meant to be just that, an exception to the rule. Fruit is our standard dessert and I do try to monitor the amount and type of sugar my kids eat in a week. Just like sodium, sugars occur naturally in foods, our bodies need sugar to survive, but it is also added liberally to processed foods. Sugar goes by many names, they add up fast and judging by the most recent obesity statistics, it is safe to say that we’re eating too much of it.


Sugar isn’t the problem, it is the type of sugar [see WSBA High Fructose Corn Syrup] and the abundance of added sugar that poses the greatest concern. Sharla Stoffman Registered Dietitian with Nutriworks Nutrition Consulting in Calgary tells me that The World Health Organization recommends no more than 10% of our diet come from added sugars (12 tsp on 2000 calorie diet). That sounds like a lot, but to illustrate Stoffman tells me how easy it is to surpass the suggested upper limit:  2 TBSP of ketchup has 2 tsp of sugar, 20 oz of pop (a medium pop at McDonalds is 24 oz) has 16 tsp of sugar, and many popular breakfast cereals have 4 tsp of sugar per cup. She suggests when reading labels aiming for 10 g of sugar per meal.


Also, not all sugars are created equal. On food labels you will see things like sucrose, fructose, glucose, corn syrup, honey, high fructose corn syrup and dextrose. Is there a difference between the sugar one gets in an orange, in orange juice or in an orange crush soda? You bet. The Dr. Sears website ( suggests that too much refined sugar suppresses our immune system while natural sugars (sugars converted from complex carbohydrates) do not.  Dr. Sears sites a study that demonstrates that high sugar consumption (20stp) caused a fifty- percent drop in the ability of white blood cells to engulf bacteria, while ingesting a complex carbohydrate solution (starch) did not lower the ability of these white blood cells to perform. Stoffman explains that “when one consumes a sugar that is contained within a whole food, it behaves differently and you receive the benefit of all the other nutrients contained within the food.  The sugar in an orange comes with fiber which helps slow the body’s absorption of the sugar, the sugar is also less concentrated and therefore has fewer calories.”  It follows, that the orange juice retains vitamin C while the Orange Crush soda has no nutritional value and is packed with empty calories.


Empty calories aren’t ideal, as they contribute to weight gain, but they also take up the space where a nutritious food could be. You want your kids full of the right kinds of calories to keep their minds and bodies going for their active days. Depending on who you speak to you’ll hear different things about the impact of sugar on kids, their attention and their behaviour. According to The Canadian Sugar Institute, there is no conclusive evidence that sugar impacts children’s behaviour or attention. According to the birthday party I just attended, I’m of a different opinion. You know your kid, you know what sugar does or doesn’t do, you decide.



Sugaring off! Facts and Tips….


* Did you know that brown sugar is just white sugar with molasses added to it?


* Bake it yourself, reduce the sugar or replace some of the sugar with apple sauce, agave, honey or fruit


* Things like granola bars may have just as much sugar as a candy bar, or a can of pop.  Read the labels or try some of SPC’s granola bar recipes.


* Dilute the juice and consider it a treat not a daily drink.


* Stop the pop!


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