‘What is it with all this sugar craze?’ you might be wondering. Has everyone just gone mad about sugar ‘the devil of our Western food industry’, ‘the bad guy that makes everyone sick and fat’? Many of your friends have gone completely off carbohydrates in answer to our sickening growing waste lines. However, this feels super restrictive to you. You are also quite certain that you don’t eat too much of this white sticky yumminess anyway. You are not quite ready to give up on those little sweet pick me-ups in your crazy life just yet. There is no compelling enough reason to do so either. Or is there? You are just allowing yourself a sweet treat here and there, so reducing glucose in your life does not really apply to you. Or does it? You believe in balance and have learnt from your parents and grandparents that a piece of cake, chocolate bar, ice-cream or any other delicious sweet dessert eaten in moderation won’t kill you. Or will it? Have you missed any crucial piece of information here? Your grandparents have lived a full healthy life and there was nothing ever wrong with adding some refined sweetness into their life. So, what has changed, or has there? Is reducing your added, free refined sugar consumption just another short-lived hype that in the end turns out to be less healthful than at first glance thought?
If you are still in doubt whether you too should have a closer look at your sugar consumption and possibly go easier on that white powder, here are my reasons why it is time for you, too, to do so. While only 50 years ago there were hardly any free sugars added to our foods, this has unfortunately completely changed. Now, we are faced with quite an opposite picture. There has been sugar added to pretty much every food you can find in a packaged form in today’s supermarket. And I am not just talking of a little here and there but of shockingly vast amounts. So, without being aware of it, you are very likely to consume way too much simple glucose than your body can metabolise without risking any nasty side effects such as disease or putting on too much unhealthy weight.
Here is what the consumption of too much added sugars, does to your beautiful body:
- Excessive refined sugar consumption increases inflammation in the body and thus makes it more susceptible to disease.
- Excessive refined sugar consumption speeds up your ageing process via the modulation of advanced glycation end products or AGEs.
- Excessive refined sugar consumption increases your risk of heart disease, diabetes, cancer, kidney disease, cognitive decline, arthritis, fatty liver, gout depression and anxiety.
- Excessive refined sugar consumption accelerates cellular ageing by reducing telomere length.
- Excessive refined sugar consumption leads to constant blood sugar swings which leaves your body drained of energy and you feeling exhausted. In addition, it leaves you craving food full of empty calories without you ever feeling fully satisfied.
- Excessive refined sugar consumption is the quickest way to pile up some unhealthy visceral fat around your vital organs.
So, how much is enough?
The World Health Organisation recommends to not have more than 6 teaspoons of added or free sugars per day for optimal health. 1 teaspoon of sugar equates to about 4.7 grams of sugar. Those added free sugars refer to glucose, fructose or simple table sugars, as well as those present in honey, syrups, fruit juices or fruit concentrates. Those guidelines do not refer to any natural sugars such as present in fresh fruits and vegetables, dairy or wholegrains. Australian Dietary Guidelines recommend to not consume more than 1 serve per day of those added free sugars.
Read your nutrition labels and lists of ingredients. Watch out for anything that ends in or other sophisticated words that are nothing but another word for sugar.
‘Easily done’, you think somewhat relieved to yourself. Are you sure? How do you know how much of these added free sugars you are really consuming when they have been added vastly to almost all of your diet without you knowing?
There is only one way to find out and that is by turning a bit into a food detective. That is by starting to read your nutrition labels and ingredient lists.
To fast-track your new investigative career a little, let me tell you that there are certain foods that have a big reputation for hording extra glucose such as: yoghurts, sauces, condiments, cereal, muesli bars or gluten-free goods of all sorts. Just because the label says organic, healthy or less sugar does not mean it also is or there is little sugar in. You will be shocked how quickly those numbers add up.
Also, don’t let yourself be fooled by very intriguing names disguising those added, free sugars in your favourite food. Beet concentrate, blackstrap molasses, sorghum, muscovado, dextran, corn sweetener, barely malt, diatase, fruit juice concentrated, evaporated fruit juice, panela, panocha, treacle or turbinado are simply are all referring to the same old free added sugars you are trying so hard to not overeat on.
And you thought you were only consuming some occasional sugars here and there! I know it is quite a shock when you realise how much of this nasty sweetness you have been actually putting unknowingly into your precious, poor sugar-overloaded system! Maybe quite the devil this Western food industry of ours after all?
You totally get it now and are ready to take the anti-sugar leap but wonder how you can satisfy this sweet tooth of yours without creating a disease prone havoc in this beautiful body of yours?
Well, here is the great news. If you are able to stay on top of your added sugar consumption by excluding most of those free sugars from your other foods you are consuming, you totally can have your 1 free sugar treat per day. Just remember your fruit juice falls into the category of your free added sugars too. If you would like to take this even further and go on a bit of a healthy discovery journey with me– but not at all necessary – you could also start experimenting with making your own sweet treats and using more natural sweeteners such as such as Medjool dates, other dried or fresh fruits – bananas taste great in anything with cacao and have you ever used apples to sweeten your cake? YUMMMM – or even frozen fruits. If none of these give you enough sweetness or seem simply too hard to incorporate into your favourite recipes, I suggest you swap your usual sugars with rice malt syrup which is mainly made up of glucose molecules which are easier for the body to metabolise than sugars that contain large amounts of fructose -giving honey, agave syrup and table sugar a side wink here. – And just in case you are getting confused with all this fructose talk: don’t worry the body has no trouble in metabolising any natural sugars occurring in fresh, dried or frozen fruits.
It is not necessary nor very commendable to go as far as to eliminate all forms of sugars or carbohydrates from your diet. It is those simple sugars or refined carbohydrates – white pasta, rice, flour etc – your body can only tolerate sparingly. You will be pleased to hear that both your body and mind do actually need complex carbohydrates or complex sugars in adequate amounts such as found in your wholegrains, peas beans and vegetables to fully thrive. In fact, without sufficient sources of complex carbohydrates you will start to feel more and more lethargic, tired, experience cravings for all the wrong foods you will stop being able to think and function clearly, more and more brain fog will take over your once so clear cognitive function. Did you know that carbohydrates are the preferred fuel of your muscles and the only one for your brain? Makes all sense now, does it? This is why the Australian Dietary Guidelines recommend you eat in between 45-65 percent of your daily calories from healthful, complex carbohydrates.
So, are you ready to let go off the sweet sticky poison that gives you wrinkles, and fast-tracks your life towards disease, inflammation and exhaustion? I am sure hoping so! Trust me, it is so much easier than you think. Also, don’t forget I am here for you if you need some extra support or love. Together we can do this!!! Here is to uncovering your most radiant, youthful, glowing, healthy, feel-good, and vibrant version of yourself. You are so worth it!
In summary: reducing your refined, added free sugar intake is not just another fad – but turns out to be a necessity in our Western modernised new sugar-age society!!!