A LESSON ON SUGAR
Firstly, this post isn’t to “demonise” sugar, it’s simply to educate you on the potential risks of eating too much of it, how easy it is to sneak into high sugar consumption and to help show you some ways to minimise the total amount of sugar you consume on a daily basis.
Sugar is not a health food, nor is it fully responsible for our overall health or weight gain. Good health is neither created or destroyed by one food however, consuming a diet high in sugar can set you up for some pretty nasty health complications. Cutting back on the amount of sugar you consume on a daily basis is also an easy way to improve your body composition and your overall health.
Some of The Dangers of a Chronic High-Sugar Diet
Chronic higher sugar intake can reduce the body’s ability to handle carbohydrates.
This reduces insulin sensitivity.
This increases insulin response to meals.
This leads to excess fat gain due to chronic high insulin levels (especially around the “love handle” area upper back areas).
The eventual consequence of poor carbohydrate tolerance is borderline or full-blown diabetes.
High amount of sugar in the blood, caused by chronic high-sugar intake, can cause the binding of sugar molecules to blood proteins. This is called glycation.
Glycation of proteins causes decreased biological activity of proteins and has been linked to the following (and more):
Premature ageing, Cancer, Altered vision, cataracts, retinopathy, Alzheimer’s, Vascular disease, Erectile dysfunction, Kidney disease, Joint pain and Arthritis
The Prevalence of Added Sugar
Of course it’s safe to assume that a piece of cake, a chocolate bar or a can of soft drink has a lot of sugar in it, however food manufacturers often add large amounts of sugar to many foods that we’d never expect.
Take yoghurt for example; some can contain as much as 6 teaspoons (24 grams) of sugar in a single 175g container.
Even some wholegrain breakfast cereals and bars that may seem like a healthy choice can contain as much as 4 teaspoons (16 grams) of sugar in one serve.
The prevalence of sneaky added sugar alone can have a major impact on how much we consume. It can be added to all sorts of foods, even foods that don’t taste sweet and comes in many different names and forms which can make it difficult to spot.
Sugar, otherwise known as:
Sucrose, Fructose, Glucose, Maltose, Dextrose, Maltodrextrin, Hydrolyzed Starch, Evaporated cane Juice, Fruit Juice Concentrate, Coconut Sugar, Brown Sugar, Date Sugar, Caster Sugar, Invert Sugar, Corn Syrup, Honey, Cane Sugar, Agave Nectar, Sugar Beets, High-fructose Corn Sweetener, Maple Sugar, Molasses.
So How Much Sugar Is Recommended?
The World Health Organisation recommends that we aim to reduce our “FREE” sugars to less than 10% of our total energy intake. A further reduction to below 5% or roughly 25 grams (6 teaspoons) per day would provide additional health benefits.
What exactly are “Free” sugars?
“FREE” sugars refer to; (Glucose, Fructose, Sucrose, Table Sugar). Free sugars are simple sugars added to foods by the manufacturer or consumer. They are also sugars that are naturally present in honey, syrups and fruit juices. These are different to those found naturally in foods such as the milk sugar lactose found naturally in milks/ milk products and the fructose the fruit sugar found naturally present in whole fruits.
Do yourself a favour and become familiar with the different names used for sugar and always check the food labels of packed or processed foods. The higher up on the ingredients list any of these sugars are the, the more the product contains.
Also look for the carbohydrate on the label, and refer to the words ‘of which sugars’ and see how much sugar the item contains per 100g
More than 22.5g per 100g is high
Less than 5g per 100g is low
The Overall Lesson
The easiest way to avoid added sugar is to cook most of your food at home and avoid highly processed foods. That said, not all convenience foods are unhealthy or contain lots of sugar.
If you’re buying pre-packaged foods, make sure you understand how to spot added sugar on food labels.
And remember, Sugar is only one part of a much bigger puzzle! There are so many other factors that affect our body composition and our overall quality of health and happiness.
Here is a checklist of some fundamental behaviours that if done consistently (meaning every day or most days) will help promote greater health and help prevent disease.
Get 7-9 hours of quality sleep
Eat slowly and mindfully
Avoid highly processed foods
Eat enough lean protein
Strength train a few times per week
Get some movement for at least 20-30 minutes per day
Keep your alcohol intake moderate
Reduce your stress
Eat 5+ servings of vegetables and or fruit per day
Eat some healthy fats
Drink more water and green tea
Spend time with people you love and or who support you
Do more things that are meaningful and purposeful to you
As always if you need any help getting any of these in order please contact me as I'd love to help.