Your body needs some sugar to function, but Canadians, who consume the equivalent of 26 teaspoons of the sweet stuff every day, are probably overdoing it. We break down what too much sugar does to your body, and how you can cut back.
Good news for those with sweet tooths: Glucose is our main source of fuel, so, yes, we actually do need sugar in our diets. But don't get too excited— they're not all alike.
"All carbohydrate-containing foods, whether candy, pop, fruit, vegetables or grain products, break down into glucose in our bloodstream," says Patricia Chuey, a Vancouver-based registered dietitian. "But our bodies respond differently when we get sugar from nutrient-dense, fibre-rich foods, eaten as part of a balanced meal that contains protein, compared to 'empty' calories from zero-nutrient, fibre-less foods."
Those carb-heavy, low-nutrient foods cause our blood-sugar, or glucose, levels to spike, triggering the release of insulin in response. One of insulin's jobs is to move glucose from the blood to our liver, muscle and fat cells for storage, and when there's more in our bloodstream than what our bodies need for energy, it can end up as stored fat—"even though fat, per se, wasn't consumed," says Chuey. That's partially why excess sugar consumption is linked to fatty liver disease, as well as Type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Fibre-rich, nutrient-dense foods, on the other hand, break down more slowly, so they don't cause as much of a blood-sugar spike, or the resulting weight gain.
That doesn't mean you have to skip your favourite sweet indulgences entirely. What we know today is that moderation is key—a little sugar won't hurt you.
But, for the most part, Canadians are not consuming a little sugar. According to Statistics Canada, on average, 22 to 26 percent of our total daily caloric intake consists of sugar. Put another way, that's an average of 110 grams, or 26 teaspoons, per day. And it's not just how much; experts are also concerned about where it comes from.
"Whole foods that are sweet, like fruit, can be good sources of vitamins, minerals and fibre, which can contribute to overall health," says Gita Singh, a research assistant professor at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Boston's Tufts University.
It's added sugar, regardless of the source, that's the problem. You'll find it in processed foods, such as many breads, soups, salad dressings and pasta sauces. And then there's pop, sports drinks and fruit drinks, which experts collectively refer to as sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs). These drinks are among the top causes of obesity and its attendant ailments, which include heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, certain types of cancer and other chronic diseases. In fact, Singh coauthored a report published in the medical journal Circulation that estimates SSB consumption is partially responsible for the diabetes-, cancer- and cardiovascular disease–related deaths of 1,600 Canadians each year.
The fact that SSBs are a leading source of excess sugar in our diets is galling but encouraging. That's because the solution is straightforward: Stop, or at least cut back on, drinking them.
Chuey says you can further reduce the added sugar in your diet by avoiding convenience foods that list sugar (or maltose, corn syrup, cane sugar or honey) among the first three ingredients; swap your caramel macchiato for a latte; and top plain yogurt with fresh fruit. The less sugar you consume, the less you'll end up craving.
But when you do indulge, go all in. "Apply the pleasure maximization principle," says Chuey. "Make it really worth it! Not in terms of quantity, but the kind of quality that will really satisfy." So skip the soda fountain. But those homemade cookies? Enjoy!
YOUR BODY ON SUGAR
Click on image for larger view. Illustrations, thenounproject.com.
There are lots of table sugar subs on the market, but how do they stack up, health-wise?
Stevia: Zero calories per teaspoon
Stevia is a zero-calorie, fructosefree option.
Date sugar: 11 calories per teaspoon
Date sugar contains all the fibre and nutrients found in the dried fruit.
Coconut sugar: 15 calories per teaspoon
Made from the sap of coconut-tree flowers, coconut sugar has the same calorie count as table sugar, but it's lower on the glycemic index.
Agave nectar: 15 calories per teaspoon
Agave nectar is about 1 1/2 times sweeter than refined sugar, so you can use less. But it's high in fructose (hello, blood-sugar spikes!).
Thinning hair got you down? Learn why hair thins as we age, and discover three cuts that can boost volume and confidence.
If a drain snake has become your number one shower accessory, you may be dealing with the onset of thinning hair. “Hair thinning affects about 40 percent of women over the age of 40,” says Dr. Jeff Donovan, a Toronto dermatologist and hair transplant specialist. While a number of factors play into hair loss—thyroid disorders, iron deficiencies, etc.—fluctuating hormone levels are typically the root of the problem.
As estrogen levels decrease, explains Dr. Donovan, so too does the “production of hair oils, which leads to changes in lustre, thickness and shine.” All hair follicles become thinner over time, but only microscopically so. (Luckily for us, only dermatologists ever look that closely.) So while you should definitely speak to a doctor if your hair is suddenly thinning out, a flattering new haircut may be all the help you need.
1. The lob
"The 'lob,' or long bob, is definitely the look of the season," says Kristjan Hayden, creative director of Aveda Canada, and women with thinning hair should have no problem partaking of the trend. The key to achieving the look, explains Hayden, is to ask for a lob that is all one length, cut straight across at the collarbone. “When you layer hair, you are removing fullness,” says Hayden, “but if layers are a must, keep them very long.” To avoid scraggly ends, keep the perimeter of the hair as “solid and blunt” as possible.
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2. The modern pixie
The pixie is back, baby! And women with thinning hair are perfect candidates for this daring ’do. Blunt cuts are optimal for longer hair, but women who sport shorter styles should maximize volume with layers. “Layers help to create the illusion of fullness because you are seeing a lot of ends and texture,” says Hayden. His rule of thumb for cutting thinning hair: the shorter the chop, the thicker the hair looks.
3. The transitional fringe
It may seem counterintuitive, but a well-cut fringe helps to “camouflage sparse areas along the hairline,” says Hayden. A heavy fringe demands thick locks, he adds, but “a side-swept or transitional bang can make hair look fuller.” A transitional bang is typically parted to the side and covers part of the forehead before transitioning into a sweep. Plus, a flattering fringe is a great way to add visual interest to an otherwise blunt haircut.
Over 50 and fabulous? Our guide to aginggracefully helps you choose the skincare, hair and makeup products that are right for you.
Chocked full of vitamins and nutrients, adding kale - both raw and cooked - to your snacks and meals can provide you with great health benefits! Find out which ones:
Although kale seems like just another trend that people are going crazy over, and looks like any other leafy green in the stores, you shouldn't pass it up! Kale contains multiple vitamins and all the good stuff to keep your body happy and healthy when incorporated into a well-balanced diet.
1. It's good for your bones.
One of the vitamins in kale is vitamin K. Deficiencies of this vitamin, or even just low intakes of it can be linked to a higher risk for bone fracture. According to Medical News Today, when you get enough vitamin K in your diet, it acts as a modifier of bone proteins and helps your bones absorb calcium. You get the most out of this vitamin if you pass on cooking up your kale and consuming it raw, like in a salad or smoothie!
2. It promotes heart health.
Kale contains fibre, potassium and vitamins C and B6 which all are good for your heart health. If you increase the potassium in your diet, while keeping up healthy eating and reducing sodium intake, you can reduce your risk of cardiovascular diseases according to Mark Houston, M.D., M.S. The intake of potassium is also super important for lowering blood pressure (almost just as important as reducing sodium consumption)!
3. It helps move you along.
Digestion health is a big benefit of kale. It is full of fibre and water content that both prevent constipation and keep you on track in terms of digestion. The B vitamins in kale also are essential for the release of energy from food, which also helps you keep good digestive health.
Note: Those who's kidneys are not fully functional and have a hard time removing extra potassium from the blood should enjoy high-potassium foods like kale in moderation. Always consult your doctor if you have concerns about adding foods to your diet.
Check out these recipes that feature the leafy green as it's main ingredient:
For the baseball buff
If your partner already has a Blue Jays hat and jersey surprise him with this handsome—and darn right cute—blue jay pin. This tiny treasure will allow him to sport some pride on the lapel of his jacket or event suit.
For the Clean Freak
If the smell of synthetic pine won’t cut it for your man (you got a keeper) gift him with a car smell that's more refined, and customizable. Infuse his vehicle with his favourite essential oil blend to feel soothed, uplifted and refreshed while you're on the road.
For the gym rat
Do you lift bro? Well if your man does then headphones, sans strap, will make all the difference while he’s pumping iron. These wireless Jaybird in-ear bluetooth sport headphones are sweatproof, which means no slipping our of your ears, and offer a long battery life, eight hours, before it needs a charge.
For the coffee addict
Does your main squeeze appreciate a strong cup of coffee every morning? Buy him this french press with a cute little message, he’ll be sure to think of you fondly before he starts his day.
Brewed with love french press, $39.50, indigo.com.
For the fitness fanatic
This stylish little band automatically tracks steps, distance, calories and sleep. If your man is a triathlete this fitness tracker is swim proof and it also uses a replaceable battery (that lasts up to six months), so you'll have no hassle with daily charging after a training session.
For the fragrance aficionado
If your man has more than five fragrances, that he actually alternates between, that means he’s a fragrance guy. Try gifting him with the newest scent from Clean; Black Leather. The juice is a spicy blend of smoky musk, bergamot and black peppercorn.
For the bearded hipster
A freshly laundered man is something any woman can get behind, so consider this gift a win win. Give him this trio of male grooming essentials: facial cleanser, beard conditioning shave lube and beard oil.
For the music man
If your paramour is into his beats and always on the move gift him with this retro looking amp shaped portable speaker, the smallest from the music minded brand. It’s got a rechargeable lithium-ion battery that will allow him to blast his tunes for a solid 25 hours before needing a charge.