D-Ribose is called a sugar but it is not the same. For the techies it is a simple five-carbon sugar with the basic job of providing cell energy and not the sugar we are all familiar with, such as table sugar (sucrose), corn sugar (glucose), milk sugar (lactose), honey (predominantly fructose), and others – which are excessively used by the body as fuel to the point where it becomes toxic.
The media and advertising would have you believe that eating a ‘sugary snack’ seems innocent enough but the latest research disagrees. University of California researchers assessed the diets of 454 mothers of babies born with neural tube defects, like spina bifida. Their diets were compared to the diets of 462 mothers of healthy babies.
The study was published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.1 For expectant mothers, the results were shocking. The risk of birth defects doubled in pregnant women that ate high-sugar foods, including white rice, white bread, potatoes, and some soft drinks. The risk of birth defects quadrupled in obese women.
These results confirm the studies I have followed for the past 30 years that all show how too much sugar in the diet is TOXIC.
What is Too Much Sugar?
In today’s diet, sugar has become the norm although the non-sugar Ketogenic diet is shown to be healthier. It’s true that sugar is broken down into glucose in the body, where it is used as cellular fuel.
Yet even a small overload of sugar creates excess glucose that links with fat and protein. A permanent cross-link called an advanced glycation end product (AGE) is formed.
Sugar buildup and AGE formation can affect overall health when it comes to insulin resistance and diabetes. In pregnant women, AGEs can hinder fetal development. Based on the study results above, it should come as no surprise that babies of diabetic mothers have three to four times the risk of malformation—including cleft palate and neural tube defects. 2,3
It is a real coincidence the letters spell AGE as that is exactly what excess sugar does to the body.
It speeds up the aging process.
Poison or Moderation?
If you were wondering how much sugar is too much, you are not alone. It is clear that an excess of sugar can poison your body and cause harm, especially when pregnant. We can get all of the fuel for energy from healthy fats but if we do use some sugar for fuel—the equivalent of 6 teaspoons of sugar in the foods we eat will support brain, cell, and muscle energy each day.
The formula is simple: EVERY 20 Calories of Carbohydrate (Sugar) = 5 Grams of Carbohydrate (Sugar) = 1 Teaspoon of Sugar.
If you make it your goal to eat a maximum of 6-12 teaspoons of sugar, or 30-60 grams of carbohydrates, per day, you will be far ahead of the curve.
The unfortunate truth is that the average sugar intake in the modern Western diet is 60 to 70 teaspoons each day hidden in breads, cookies, cakes, pasta, parsnips, drinks, sodas, fruit juices, breakfast cereals, corn products, white rice, white potatoes and of course, all processed foods.
Can you imagine putting 60-70 teaspoons on a plate and eating it? That’s exactly what people are doing. Hopefully not you or any of your family!
Sugary carbs quickly add up…to put it in perspective, a large bagel contains roughly 12 teaspoons of sugar and (more than) completes your sugar requirements for the day. By the way, this doesn’t mean that easting just one bagel is OK – bagels are BAD for your health. Stop them now if you eat them!
Eating a healthy diet rich in really healthy foods makes it easy to eliminate unnecessary sources of sugar, like carbohydrates. Paying careful attention to sugar toxicity in your diet is even more critical when you are pregnant—to protect the health of you and your baby.
I’ll leave you with this simple tip to keep sugar levels in check: Focus on healthy fats and protein—as well as vegetables – to improve energy and balance sugar intake.