According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), adults should aim to consume only 5% of their daily calories from sugar. This is 25 g of sugar in total (5-6 teaspoons). A standard 330 ml can of fizzy drink alone contains 7 teaspoons, so many of us are consuming dangerous quantities.
Burnt, held in limbo or stored as fat
When we consume sugar our bodies can do two things with it. It can either be burned as energy or converted into polysaccharide glycogen and stored in muscle tissues and the liver until we need it. Our liver and muscles however, can only store a limited amount of glycogen. If that limit is exceeded, sugar will be converted into fat and stored in our fat cells. If we continually eat too much sugar, this process causes the development of fatty liver and many other serious health issues.
Extra sugar in our body and blood causes resistance to the hormone insulin, which contributes to many health problems such as high cholesterol, high blood pressure and finally causes type II diabetes and cardio-vascular diseases. The current statistics suggest that people who drink sugar-laden beverages have up to an 83% higher chance of developing type II diabetes that can lead to other life shortening diseases.
Sugar is also addictive for a lot of people. We are not genetically designed to consume the amount of sugar that we eat nowadays and like drugs, excessive amounts of sugar can boost the release of the neurotransmitter dopamine in our brain, causing a feeling of euphoria.
Excessive sugar also blocks the healing process in our bodies and reduces the absorption of the nutrients from other food. Furthermore, sugar is the main food for cancer cells.
By affecting our bodies and brains sugar is causing a rapid rise in rates of chronic disease. It is a disaster for modern society. If we want to live longer, we should eat less sugar. Let’s save our kids and ourselves. Do not reward children with candy it reinforces an unhealthy stereotype.
Some sugar busting tips
Avoiding sugar completely is practically impossible. But it is possible and vital to cut the amount of added sugar we consume. It is vital for all of us but especially for children, whose brains, hormonal systems and metabolisms are still developing. Here are some suggestions:
• Avoid buying ready-made food as much as possible and stick to whole, real food.
• Choose food labelled “no added sugar” or ‘unsweetened”.
• Select a healthy unprocessed breakfast cereal like whole-grain cereals or porridge oats
• Compensate for the lack of sweetness by using more spices like vanilla extract, citrus zests, cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger.
• Replace the consumption of sugar-packed drinks, flavoured water, iced teas, ready-made smoothies and fruit juices with water or green tea.
• When baking at home, cut the amount of sugar suggested in your recipe by half, often you won’t not notice the difference in taste.
The good news is that if we avoid sugar in “non-dessert” foods like cereal, ketchup, and bread with hidden sugar, we can enjoy a well-deserved dessert from time to time. Especially if it is home made! Bon appétit!
By Irina Schurov