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The Problem With Added Sugars

Sugar provides energy (i.e., calories) but no additional nutritional value. So, a little bit of sugar might be OK, but a lot of sugar leads to weight gain.

Some people believe high fructose corn syrup is worse for your health than regular sugar, but there isn’t enough credible scientific evidence to back that claim. They’re both made up of a similar combination of glucose and fructose, and both have the same effect on the body.

The problem with sugary foods is eating or drinking too much of it. When you eat too much sugar, there’s a good chance you’re going to gain weight because it’s high in calories. Plus, sugary foods aren’t usually nutritious.

They usually don’t have enough vitamins and minerals to make up for all the extra sugar.

Finding Added Sugars

Sugary soft drinks, pastries, cookies, candy bars, syrups, jams, jellies, and pre-sweetened breakfast cereals are all obvious sources of added sugars. But other foods such as salad dressings, flavored yogurts, instant oatmeal, and fruit smoothies can also contain added sugars.

Since there are several forms and types of sugars, it helps to know what you’re looking for. Grab your packaged food and look for the ingredients list. If you see any of these, you’ve got added sugars:

  • sugar
  • brown sugar
  • high fructose corn syrup
  • corn sugar
  • syrup
  • corn syrup
  • fructose
  • glucose
  • sucrose
  • raw sugar
  • turbinado sugar
  • honey

If any of these words appear on the ingredients list, be sure to look at the Nutrition Facts Label to determine how much of the added sugars are lurking in each serving. It may be just a small amount of sugar, or it might be a lot.

Reduce Your Added Sugar Intake

Start by reading labels and choosing the products that have the least added sugar. You don’t have to give up sweet foods altogether, just make healthier choices.

  • Fruits and berries are sweet and contain no added sugars.
  • Buy plain yogurt and add sliced fresh fruits or maybe just a little honey.
  • Skip the pre-sweetened breakfast cereals and add a little sprinkling of sugar, or use a zero-calorie sweetener like stevia or sucralose.

What About Natural Sugars?

Fruits and fruit juice are naturally sweet, so they don’t need any added sugar in most cases. They may be sweet, but they aren’t classified as having added sugar. Well, unless they’re turned into a fruit drink like most cranberry juice beverages that are a combination of fruit juices with sugar and water.

Here’s the thing with natural sugars. Fruits and 100-percent fruit juice are not sugary foods, but you may need to watch the calorie count. A glass of fruit juice may have as many calories as the same size glass of sugary soft drink. But that fruit juice also has vitamins and minerals that the soft drink doesn’t have.

Is Honey Any Better?

Honey is a natural sugar because bees make it, whereas regular sugar is made from beets, corn, or sugar cane. But honey is often used as an ingredient, so it’s a lot like an added sugar. Nutritionally, honey is about the same as sugar or high fructose corn syrup, so foods made with honey are still considered sugary. Technically, honey does contain some nutrients, but it’s just a tiny amount, which is not enough to improve your diet.

But I Love Sugar—What Do I Do?

Eat less of it. If you can’t do without your favorite sweets, just be sure to watch your intake. About 100 to 200 calories per day are about all you should consume.

Some foods don’t need the extra sugar or they can be sweetened naturally, like yogurt. So you can buy sweetened yogurt that’s full of sugar, or you can buy plain yogurt and add fresh fruits or berries. If that’s not sweet enough for you, you can add a little honey or sugar. But be careful—a tablespoon of honey has about 60 calories, and a tablespoon of sugar has about 50.

Same with breakfast cereals. The pre-sweetened varieties usually have lots of sugar. Look for brands that have less than 5 grams sugar per serving, and choose the brands with the most fiber. Or make your own oatmeal or plain unsweetened cereal and add fruits and berries, or just a little sugar on top.

Zero-calorie sweeteners can take the place of sugar in some foods and beverages, but they’ll alter the flavor a bit.

Treating your Sprained Ankle

Treating your sprained ankle properly may prevent chronic pain and instability. For a Grade I sprain, follow the R.I.C.E. guidelines:

  • Rest your ankle by not walking on it. Limit weight bearing. Use crutches if necessary; if there is no fracture you are safe to put some weight on the leg. An ankle brace often helps control swelling and adds stability while the ligaments are healing.
  • Ice it to keep down the swelling. Don’t put ice directly on the skin (use a thin piece of cloth such as a pillow case between the ice bag and the skin) and don’t ice more than 20 minutes at a time to avoid frost bite.
  • Compression can help control swelling as well as immobilize and support your injury.
  • Elevate the foot by reclining and propping it up above the waist or heart as needed.

Swelling usually goes down with a few days.

For a Grade II sprain, follow the R.I.C.E. guidelines and allow more time for healing. A doctor may immobilize or splint your sprained ankle.

A Grade III sprain puts you at risk for permanent ankle instability. Rarely, surgery may be needed to repair the damage, especially in competitive athletes. For severe ankle sprains, your doctor may also consider treating you with a short leg cast for two to three weeks or a walking boot. People who sprain their ankle repeatedly may also need surgical repair to tighten their ligaments.

With two kids and an accident prone adult, medical emergencies such as lacerations, broken bones, or insect bites would probably be unavoidable in our family. As long as anesthesia is not required, an urgent care facility will likely be more bang for my healthcare dollars. Most urgent care facilities are staffed by former ER doctors and nurses, so the quality of care is at par with hospitals. However, not only are they much more prompt, but it also makes financial sense given the one-time, low cost of using an urgent care facility, even one that does not accept insurance. I am glad that in a world of rising healthcare costs and stealth healthcare taxes, urgent care facilities can prove to be a lower cost alternative to traditional hospitals.

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