Most of us enjoy the sweet stuff; we are actually biologically driven to look for it. When we were back in our hunting and gathering days, food with a sweet taste was more likely to be safe to eat. Now of course many of us have an abundance of “safe” food to eat so we don’t have a need to seek out the sweet stuff like we once did.
According to the World Health Organisation, it is recommended that adults eat no more than 6 teaspoons per day of added sugar, to maintain good health and good teeth.
Research presented at the American Heart Association’s Epidemiology and Prevention/Nutrition, Physical Activity and Metabolism 2013 Scientific Sessions showed that 180,000 deaths worldwide are linked to sugary beverages. In the same year, a study published in Diabetologia, looked at diet and drinking habits of about 28,500 people from the UK and Europe over a period of 15 years. They found that one can of sugar sweetened soft drink per day increases your risk of type 2 diabetes by 22%. A can of soft drink/soda would contain approx. 9 or 10 teaspoons of sugar. While it is OK to have the occasional sugary treat, many of us are having 20, 30 and 40+ teaspoons of sugar per day which is having dire health consequences.
Ten examples of what does sugar do to the body?
- Over consumption of sugar drives inflammation and Metabolic Syndrome including fatty liver disease, high blood pressure, high triglycerides, large waist size, insulin resistance, the wrong kind of cholesterol and ultimately type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
- Sugar interferes with the all-important balance of bacteria in your digestive system resulting in too much of the wrong kinds of bacteria.
- Sugar can cause hyperactivity and mood issues – it tends to lead to you being wired and tired.
- Sugar rots your teeth (check out mountain dew mouth as shown in That Sugar Film).
- Sugar drives your hunger making you crave more sugar, decreasing your body’s leptin response (a hormone critical for appetite regulation).
- Sugar makes you hangry (hungry and angry); it drives large highs and lows in your blood glucose levels, which is a common cause of energy ups and downs throughout the day.
- Sugar is the food of choice for some forms of cancer.
- Sugar stimulates the stress response (the fight/flight response that causes the body to release stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol).
- Sugar disables your immune system by affecting your white blood cells ability to remove harmful foreign particles, bacteria, and dead or dying cells.
- Sugar induces significant oxidative stress on the body which leads to aging and serious illness such as cardiovascular disease, dementia and cancer.
Look at how much sugar you are consuming, I guarantee you will be surprised. On food labels pay attention to grams of sugar. 4g is 1 teaspoon so if your product has 20g sugar, it contains 5 teaspoons of sugar. That Sugar Film created a great free app you can use to scan barcodes if you don’t want to do the calculations yourself.
Be aware that sugar is hidden in so called “healthy foods” such as juice, flavoured milk, low fat yoghurt, dressings and sauces. I highly recommend you watch That Sugar Film with the whole family; it is a fun way to learn more of what you need to know about sugar and where it is hidden.
I encourage you to take part in 6 Spoons in June, a low sugar action month brought to you by the team behind That Sugar Film. It will challenge you to rethink your relationship with sugar with a focus on gradually reducing sugar intake, rather than cutting it out entirely, swapping out the over-sweetened food and appreciating healthier foods that are just as tasty. Go to www.thatsugarfilm.com for more information.
Article written by Fiona Kane
Nutritionist, Holistic Counsellor, Life Coach and That Sugar Film Ambassador