Sugar and Macular Degeneration: Dos and Don'ts
In Part I of this article series, I explained the basics of what sugars are, how they affect our bodies, and how to recognize them written in different aliases on food labels. Today, I want to discuss how much sugar is really ‘safe’ for those of us with macular degeneration to eat.
Fruits and vegetables
You are! When we last left off, I explained that sugars are really not good for us. We learned that fruits do contain natural sugars, and that can definitely seem confusing because in the macular degeneration world, there is a lot of talk about eating a diet filled with lots and lots of fruits and vegetables.
I want to clear this up for you all so you can make the best choices for yourself when choosing your daily meals.
Fruits and vegetables do contain simple sugars, that’s why they taste sweet! But, these sugars occur naturally in these foods and do not process in our bodies the same way as complex sugars do. They also contain essential vitamins and nutrients that our eyes and bodies need to be healthy. So, please, eat your fruits and veggies!
Complex and refined sugars
Sugars that are eaten in their original form are definitely okay and recommended to eat. It’s the sugars that are taken from their natural source, manipulated in any way in a laboratory or factory, and/or added to something else that we need to be cautious of.
How much sugar is healthy per day?
You may be wondering how much sugar you're 'allowed' to eat each day because ummm...isn't sugar in almost everything? Yes! Like many topics in the macular degeneration world, there isn’t an easy answer to this question. How much sugar you’re ‘permitted’ to consume per day depends on your age, gender, and weight. Just like anything else we put into our bodies, sugar affects us all in different ways.
Daily sugar intake
According to the American Heart Association, as a general rule, men can ‘safely’ consume about 36 grams (9 teaspoons) of sugar per day, while women should stick to only 25 grams (6 teaspoons). Children, ages 2 to 18 should consume less than 25 grams per day, with the understanding that a two-year-old has many different needs than an 18-year-old. The less, the better.1
A little perspective
To put this into perspective for you, there are 14 grams of sugar in one cup (yes, just one cup) of a popular cereal that is advertised as 'healthy' and given to very young children as they're learning to eat. It's the O shaped cereal if you're getting what I'm saying...Cheerios. I don't know about you, but when I eat a bowl of cereal, I eat at least two cups. That's 28 grams of sugar and BOOM, just like that, I'm over my allotted amount of sugar per day. And that's just breakfast.
It’s important to note here that the simple sugars found in your fruits and veggies do not count toward your daily allotment. It’s always best to stick to simple sugars, and eliminate as many complex and refined sugars as you can.
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