GUEST POST: Most of us have a ‘sweet tooth’ – but you can’t have failed to hear all of the bad press about sugar.
Unfortunately, that bad press is true – sugar provides no more than empty calories and energy that you can better get from elsewhere. And yet, we are eating more and more of the stuff. In the 1700s we were eating about 2 bags (4lbs) of sugar each a year – now it is more like 75 bags!
But does it matter? Is it really that bad for our health?
Well, sorry to say, but yes.
Many doctors and scientists are increasingly concerned that sugar may be more of a culprit in the obesity epidemic than fat. Why? The energy boost it provides is rapidly followed by a slump as the rapid rise in blood sugar is counteracted by insulin in the body. This causes a sudden drop in blood sugar which then has us reaching for more to create that energy high again. So we end up eating more.
It is contributing to tooth decay and dental pain in around 1/3 of adults and children.
And more and more evidence is linking our high sugar intake to problems like heart disease, some forms of cancer, liver disease and even Alzheimer’s disease or dementia.
Reducing our sugar intake in any way will help us gradually wean our body off the sweet stuff and reduce our cravings, breaking that addictive cycle that will make ditching sugar easier in the long run! It’s so important that the World Health Organisation has recommended that we eat no more than 6 teaspoons (24g) of sugar a day, hidden sugar included. That includes all sugar, whether honey, fruit sugar, maple syrup or more – apart from the sugar found in milk or in whole fruit and veg.
If you are able to go completely cold turkey, be reassured that it doesn’t take long for the body to readjust to being sugar-free and those cravings DO diminish. And you will soon notice the improvements in your health, mood and weight!
So, how do we cut back on sugar?
- Cutting out the added sugar in the obvious culprits – hot drinks, desserts, or bags of sweets – is a great place to start.
- Check the labels of processed foods to find how many grams of hidden sugar they contain.
- Ditch the fizzy drinks which can contain 9 teaspoons of sugar or more.
- Don’t forget fruit juice. Even a 200 ml glass of orange juice contains 5 teaspoons of sugar – and some smoothies can contain many more.
- Watch out for breakfast cereal. Besides the ‘chocolate filled’ options, even the “healthy” granola-type dried fruit cereal can also contain high sugar levels.
- Careful in the coffee-shops. The latte with a muffin can pack a hefty sugar and calorie count.
- Step back from the sweeteners. So-called ‘natural sweeteners’ like honey and fruit juice are still sugars and count towards your 24g or 6 teaspoon a day limit. Sugar-free may mean packed with artificial sweeteners, which are not a great choice for life-long nutrition. Whilst some may be healthier than sugar and can even protect against tooth decay, we do not really know the long-term effects of sweeteners in increasing quantities. Besides, they do nothing to reduce our desire for that sugary fix. Instead, we need to reduce our sweet tooth overall. If we slowly reduce our need for that intense sweetness, we can reduce our sugar intake without really noticing – and without the use of chemicals.
Another good reason for giving sugar the push-off!
Sugar consumption is also the biggest cause of ‘dumping’ for many gastric bypass patients (and some others too). Controlling the amount you have, depending upon sensitivity, is therefore critical if you don’t want to experience some pretty awful symptoms. Learn more here
Feature courtesy of www.vavista.com