Last Friday (May 20, 2016), First Lady Michelle Obama revealed the nation’s first update to Nutrition Labels in over 20 years. The updated label, releasing in 2018, will have eight significant changes that will empower people to make healthier decisions. One of those changes will require companies to list how much sugar is added to their products and recommend a limit on added sugar consumption.
Today, the over-consumption of sugar is the number one cause of the American obesity epidemic. Sugar causes inflammation, which is the precursor to heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes. It’s a shocking and sobering truth that the average North American diet today consists of nearly 30 teaspoons of sugar each day, a fact that many are unaware of. That’s 100 pounds of sugar every year. All sugar, when consumed in large amounts, derails your body from its natural balance.
Big Food lobbying groups including (but not limited to) the American Bakers Association, American Beverage Association, American Frozen Foods Institute, Corn Refiners Association, International Dairy Foods Association and National Confectioners Association have been fighting against the nutrition label change since 2014, when the Food and Drug Administration announced they were going to make changes. And they clearly lost the battle.
“The Sugar Association is disappointed by the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) ruling to require an ‘added sugars’ declaration and daily reference value (DRV) on the Nutrition Facts Label (NFL),” the association said in a statement on Friday (May 20, 2016). “The extraordinary contradictions and irregularities, as well as the lack of scientific justification in this rule making process are unprecedented for the FDA.”
It’s no surprise; these groups have been spending millions to lobby for less label transparency in relation to GMO labeling, pesticides, and now nutrition label changes.
Type 2 diabetes has reached epidemic proportions in the US. The CDC reports more than 29 million adults in the US have diabetes. These rates are due to high sugar consumption and lack of exercise. If these rates continue, one in three Americans will have diabetes by 2050. And another 86 million — a third of the adult population — are headed down the road to diabetes, with blood sugar levels high enough to mark them as pre-diabetic. Tracking sugar consumption is extremely important for the health of our nation. Knowledge is power and we should all be aware of the sugar content in our foods.
Tips for lowering sugar content in your diet:
- Use all-natural stevia in place of sugar. It’s safe for diabetics and made from the leaves of the stevia plant. Other natural sweeteners including xylitol and yacon syrup. Free of carbohydrates, calories, and caffeine, stevia is a wonderful solution to satisfy your sweet cravings.
- If you are eating sugar, mix it with healthy fats (like nuts) or fiber to slow down the insulin release. For example, instead of choosing a sugar cookie, choose an oatmeal cookie with nuts, as it has higher fiber and healthy fats from nuts.
- You can take chromium picolinate as a supplement to help keep blood sugar balanced.
- Other foods to help balance blood sugar levels include: cinnamon, green tea, avocado, nuts and seeds.