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How giving up refined sugar changed my brain

Mayor's Health Task Force's picture

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I have a love-hate relationship with food. I love it; it generally hates me. Matter of fact, I love food so much that until a few years ago, I was extremely overweight. So overweight that Iinvented a piece of health tech to help me lose 80 pounds. It worked, and since then I’ve remained a healthy weight primarily by making sure I count my calories, don’t overeat, and get regular exercise.

And for the most part, it’s been smooth sailing, and I even eat whatever I want most of the time: fish, chicken, pasta, diet soda, fruity yogurts, and a sweet snack once a day like a bag of M&M’s or a brownie. I also love my daily coffee with a few packets of sugar. A calorie is a calorie, right? As long as I don’t go above 2,000 calories a day, I know I won’t gain weight and I’ll remain a generally healthy person.

When I recently mentioned my weight loss and current daily dietary intake to a doctor friend of mine, I expected her to congratulate me on my success. And though she did, she also cautioned me that while my daily calorie levels were something to continue, she was worried I was getting too much refined sugar in my diet. As she knows I have an interest in not only maintaining a healthy weight but in mental fitness as well, she pointed out that study after study shows how bad refined sugar is for both our waistlines and our brains.

How Much Sugar Should You Eat In a Day?

The American Heart Association says men should eat no more than 37.5 grams of sugar a day and women should eat no more than 25 grams. But the World Health Organization now says even those allowances are too high, suggesting both men and women should eat 25 grams or fewer each day. The average American currently eats 126 grams of sugar a day—though most don't realize it. Much of that amount comes from the refined sugars added to our foods during manufacturing.

 

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