There's been a lot of hubbub about sugar recently. And by "a lot," I mean a full-on public-health nutrition food fight. While many nutrition experts have long denounced sugar's negative health effects, the argument seems to have reached a fever pitch.
Although held almost more than two years ago, a lecture by Robert H. Lustig, University of California, San Francisco professor of pediatrics in the division of endocrinology, which calls sugar "toxic," has received more than a million hits on YouTube and was recently the focal point of an article in the New York Times that further pushed the sugar-argument into the forefront. Lustig's claim is that too much fructose (fruit sugar) and not enough fiber are the cornerstones of the obesity epidemic because of their effects on insulin.
In the 90-minute talk, Lustig's facts on sugar, health and obesity is surely convincing. But it may not be so simple (nothing ever is it seems!). In a rebuttal article, David Katz, M.D., director of the Yale-Griffin Prevention Research Center at Yale University, says not so fast. Katz believes that sugar in excess is harmful, but "evil?" He has an issue with calling the same sugar that is found naturally in strawberries "toxic," writing in The Huffington Post that " You find me the person who can blame obesity or diabetes on eating strawberries, and I will give up my day job and become a hula dancer."
So how can you separate fact from fiction and be your healthiest? Well, why the experts duke it out on what's really making us overweight and how to best counteract it, you can feel safe that these three tips are controversy-free.
3 Sugar-Controversy Free Diet Tips
1. Limit the processed foods you eat. No matter where you side on the sugar controversy, there's no doubt that eating a diet that's high in processed foods and therefore sugar, salt and unhealthy fat isn't good for you or your body. When possible, eat foods that are as close to the source as possible.
2. Skip the soda. High in sugar and salt — not to mention chemicals — it's best to cut your intake of soda. Think diet colas are better than the regular versions? Research shows they can be harder on your teeth and may actually increase hunger later in the day.
3. Don't fear the good fat. For many years we've been told that fat is bad. Well, now we know that healthy fats — your omega-3 fatty acids, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats — are actually essential to your body and may help you lose weight!
Jennipher Walters is the CEO and co-founder of the healthy living websites FitBottomedGirls.com and FitBottomedMamas.com. A certified personal trainer, lifestyle and weight management coach and group exercise instructor, she also holds an MA in health journalism and regularly writes about all things fitness and wellness for various online publications.