Over recent years there as has been a lot of hype around sugar...
Some of the most well-known works on the subject are Sweet Poison (David Gillespie) or Pure, White and Deadly (John Yudkin).
We also have, for example, the release of ‘That Sugar Film’ – a film documenting the dangers of sugar in society.
A rather large battle between health groups that advocate High Fat, Low Carb (HFLC) against the Heart Foundation for promoting products high in sugar
The world health organisation lowering their recommended consumption of sugar to 10% of their total energy consumption.
Amongst all this, you may be asking yourself, surely sugar isn’t that bad?
Well, I hate to be the bearer of bad news but sugar does pose a pretty big health risk for many people.
Why? Because, most of the time, you don’t actually realise how much sugar you’re consuming!
Here is the lowdown on sugar in your diet.
Firstly, we are going to do a little exercise.
I want you to go to your fridge and pantry:
1. Look at all the food and drinks you have in there
2. Read the nutritional information
3. Note on a list everything with added sugar in the ingredients, or that has more than 1g of sugar in it.
How many foods did you find? Was sugar listed in any unexpected products?
Why should you be worried about this?
There are a few major problems with sugar.
You should really never eat any added let alone excess sugar. But it is hard to know when you are consuming it as it is in so many food items.
About 80% of supermarket products have added sugar.
Sugar is not only added to the obvious (e.g. chocolate, soft drink, ice-cream etc.), it is also seen in high quantities in sauces, fruit juices, yoghurts, breads, milks and cheeses.
Are you kidding me?? Low fat yogurt and coke have almost the same amount of added sugar in them. Won't drink a coke because you think it’s bad for you? Low fat yoghurts are no different!
Without going too deep into the biochemistry of it all, here are the basics:
A carbohydrate is made up of different combinations of polysaccharides. A saccharide is literally a sugar so polysaccharides are simply many sugars.
Not all sugars are used by the body in the same way. All carbohydrates are broken down in the body into 3 monosaccharaides (one sugar). These three are called glucose, fructose and lactose.
The body has receptors in every cell for glucose and in fact, the brain only feeds on glucose and no other energy source.
Furthermore, the way glucose is metabolised releases satiety signals of the body so it makes you feel full.
Galactose is the milk sugar and can similarly be used by the body just not in the brain. Lactose, is two monosaccharaides (one sugar) together creating a disaccharide (two sugars). So glucose and galactose combined together.
Fructose (fruit sugar) is where the problem occurs. In nature fructose is found paired with high amounts of fibre in fruit, which counters the negative effects pure fructose has on the body. The fibre makes the fructose metabolise slower.
But guess where you find pure fructose with no fibre? Sugar.
There are no receptors in cells for fructose so it has to be metabolised in the liver where it is, in simplified terms, turned straight into fat.
This wouldn't be so bad except fructose boosts your insulin and also bypasses your satiety receptors so you don't produce the hormones to tell your body your full and therefore keep eating!
What does this mean?
This means that fructose is a large contributor to obesity and the chronic diseases that plague our modern day societies.
Because of the excess sugar in our food we are unable to regulate, naturally, what our bodies are eating because fructose bypasses those sensors.
Furthermore, fructose is converted straight to fat rather than used as energy. So if anything in your diet is making you fat, it is the sugar you are consuming, usually inadvertently, in large amounts.
So how do you avoid this? Cut sugar out of your diet? How do you know if it has sugar in it? It will be sweet tasting. Table sugars are 50% glucose, 50% fructose. The fructose creates the sweetness.
Carbohydrate on product's ingredient lists means just glucose but sugar especially fructose has many different names which suppliers use such as high fructose corn syrup, maltose, dextrose, added sweetener, cane syrup to name a few.
That is why it is best to realize that any sweet tasting foods will most likely have fructose in it.
So what should you take from this?
If you are going to change anything about your diet, GET RID OF SUGAR.
It is the root of the obesity epidemic and hidden in so many places it’s hard to know exactly what you’re eating. So eat as naturally as you can get! No packets, no jars, no cans, from scratch so you know what’s in your food!
This may sound daunting especially if you’re used to takeaways or eating processed foods.
However, if you really want to reap the health benefits you can get from cutting out sugar, you need to learn to prepare fresh meals.
Did you know:
* 4g of sugar = 1 teaspoon
NB: Beware - low fat = sugary death (sugar is added to compensate for the low fat = no or little flavour)
Do any of the products in your pantry come close to this amount? Products you wouldn't expect?
The final problem with sugar is that you are literally addicted to it.
How are you feeling looking through your cupboard at all these foods you should give up? Pretty upset? Angry? In denial? Reasoning that it’s not all that bad?
It is that bad. You're an addict.... and you need to accept that and take back control of your body.
When you quit sugar you are able to control your food cravings, you’re not lusting after that sweet treat at 3 pm of goring yourself on food because you’re starving.
Your body will be able to regulate itself normally, feel hungry for good, fresh nutritious foods and stay fuller for longer.
If there is one thing you should do to improve your health its quit sugar