Nutrition - Reducing Sugar
Maintaining a well-balanced diet is vital to staying healthy, and only becomes more important into old age. A balanced diet helps us sustain a healthy weight and stay energized throughout the day, all while providing needed nutrients. A well-balanced diet also lowers the risk of developing chronic health conditions like heart disease and diabetes. According to the National Resource Center on Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Aging, one in every four older Americans has poor nutrition. A healthy diet increases/maintains mental acuteness, produces higher energy levels, and assists the body in fighting off diseases. Poor nutrition makes seniors especially vulnerable, as it weakens muscles and leaves the immune system more susceptible to disease. Eating healthy does not translate to strict dieting or eliminating entire food groups. Rather, it involves becoming more conscious of what we put into our bodies.
Sugar has become one of the most pressing dietary concerns for health professionals. In the past few decades, the average sugar intake for Americans has risen drastically. This is largely due to the increase in processed foods and artificial sweeteners. Nutritionists are now recommending that adults do not get more than 10% of their daily energy consumption from sugar, and that sugar intake below 5% has additional health benefits. Learning the difference between good and bad sugars can help maintain a diet that provides sufficient energy while minimizing the adverse health effects from sugar. Many food products that are largely accepted as healthy have much more sugar than one would think. A simple way to cut back on sugar is by eliminating/reducing sugary drinks from your diet. Flavored water, soda, and juice often have a significant amount of added sugars. Tea and coffee are often a part of one’s daily routine, but the added sugar and cream can be detrimental overtime. Trying to reduce sweeteners slowly can have major health benefits. In addition, there are many sugar alternatives that can satisfy a sweet tooth without an abundance of sugar. Reducing sugar intake is a simple yet significant strive towards improving nutrition, and thus improving health.
About the Author
Maggie Alves is a junior at the University of California, Santa Barbara’s Honors College, studying Communication and Political Science. She is a Marin native, graduating from Tamalpais High School in 2017. She worked as the Marketing and Communication Intern at the Redwoods during the 2019 summer assisting with various marketing and social media campaigns.