Many years ago I attended a lecture with regard to body fat and, whilst I learnt many facts that day, there was one line the lecturer delivered that has stayed with me. It was “if sugar was discovered today, it would be banned as an illegal substance!”

I totally agreed and must admit that I still believe sugar is one of the most damaging substances that you can ingest. The huge issue we are facing today is that it is now so abundant in our everyday diet that, not only are the majority of adults addicted, but our children are as well.

We are all obviously aware of the amount of sugar we are consuming when we sprinkle it on our morning cereal, add a few spoonfuls to a cup of coffee or add it to our baking. Maybe it might be manageable if it stopped just there but unfortunately it’s also hidden in some beloved “treats” that people consume on a daily basis, such as sodas, fruit juices, candies, and ice cream. It also lurks in almost all processed foods, including breads, meats, and even your favorite condiments like Worcestershire sauce and ketchup. In fact by adding ketchup to your plate of fries you might as well be sprinkling pure sugar onto them!

Today, an average American consumes about 32 teaspoons of sugar per day. What’s even more alarming is that people are consuming excessive sugar in the form of fructose or high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS). This highly processed form of sugar is cheaper, yet 20 percent sweeter than regular table sugar, which is why so many food and beverage manufacturers decided to add it to their products, after all it’s the bottom line that really matters isn’t it?!

The bad news is that the human body is not made to consume excessive amounts of sugar, especially in the form of fructose. In fact, your body metabolizes fructose differently than sugar, metabolizing it directly into fat.

Dr. Robert Lustig, a professor of Clinical Pediatrics in the Division of Endocrinology in the University of California and a pioneer in decoding sugar metabolism, says that your body can safely metabolize at least six teaspoons of added sugar per day. But since we previously discussed that most Americans are consuming over 5 times that amount, then no wonder our obesity statistics are hitting all time highs. There are also many health problems associated with consuming too much sugar including overloading and damaging your liver, tricking your body into gaining weight, affecting your insulin and leptin signaling, metabolic dysfunction and increasing uric acid levels. In fact research from some of America’s most respected institutions now confirms that sugar is a primary dietary factor that drives obesity and chronic disease development.

So what should we do to try and limit the amount of this incredibly toxic and highly addictive substance we consume on a daily basis? Firstly, lets establish that sugar, in its natural form, is not inherently bad, as long as, like most things in life, it’s consumed in moderation. This means avoiding all sources of fructose, particularly processed foods and beverages like soda. According to SugarScience.org, 74 percent of processed foods contain added sugar but are hidden under more than 60 different names. Therefore you should try and ensure that 90 percent of your diet comes from whole foods and only 10 percent or less on processed foods. Keep in mind that although fruits are rich in nutrients and antioxidants they also naturally contain fructose. Try to also increase your consumption of healthy fats such as omega-3, saturated and monounsaturated fats found in unheated virgin olive oil, coconut oil, raw nuts, free-range eggs, avocado and salmon. Try and swap all of your sweetened beverages for pure water and maybe add some fermented foods to your meals such as kimchi, organic yogurt and kefir. And never, ever take a spoonful of sugar to help the medicine go down!