Sugar is rampant in our diets today. It is in coffees, some of the milks we add to our hot drinks, your breakfast cereals (even the so called healthy ones), canned foods, packet foods, ready meals. Sugar is hidden in a whopping 74% of all packaged foods in one form or another. Treats such as fruit juices, ice cream, soda drinks, breads and meats are all embellished with sugar to make you want to keep going back to the same store to buy the same product.
Having worked as a nutritional therapist in Hereford for some time and having read extensively I have come to the conclusion that sugar is the single most toxic component in our diet. That might sound dramatic but we are at the present entering a stage where Sugar industry will receive the same public backlash that the tobacco industry received in the 70’s. Sugar is the precipitating factor in metabolic syndrome. The health concerns that this brings with it are included in the table below.
Type 2 diabetes
Polycystic ovarian syndrome
Is Excessive Sugar Bad for Your Health and why?
An average Briton will consume 20-30 teaspoons of sugar per day. Recently a study found that a top selling jazzy syrup laden coffee contained no less than 25 teaspoons of sugar in a single cup. There are 120 teaspoons in a bag of sugar. So in a single year at 30 tspns of sugar you would annually consume approximately 91.25 bags of sugar in a year! Scary stuff considering an Englishman’s average sugar intake in a year in the 1700’s was around 4 bags a year.
From an evolution biological perspective there is a rational reason why we hanker after sweet foods. Our bodies metabolise Glucose (sugar) over proteins and fats. It is metabolised quickly and we feel the effects almost immediately. The issue with our white grain (sucrose) is that it breaks down into two sugars. Half breaks down in to glucose which gets used immediately in the body and the other half into fructose which is not metabolised in the gut but in the liver. Here it can be considered as a toxin. The reason is that we have not evolved mechanisms to burn Fructose up as energy as quickly as we need to so we convert it into fat which is a precipitating factor for a host of health issues.
Effects of sugar excess
Dr. Robert Lustig, a leading endocrinologist in America has estimated the safe upper limit for sugar intake for a day is 6 teaspoons. Since you might be averaging 20 tspns in excess of this what might be the biological effects of this?
Liver overload. The excess fructose gets shunted to the liver & gets converted to fats. Fat deposits can build up and lead to a non-alcoholic fatty liver.
Increases weight gain and disrupts appetite hormones. Hormone play a significant role in switching off and on hunger signals. With these malfunctioning you still tend to eat far more than necessary
Metabolic syndrome. This term sums up a body of symptoms including high blood pressure, elevated cholesterol, diabetes, obesity and general weight gain.
Increase in uric acid levels. This can be a factor in heart and kidney disease.
How to manage your sugar consumption
Food Budget; 90% of you food budget should be whole foods. This will automatically decrease the amount of refined carbohydrates that find their way into your trolley (includes cereals, bagels, breads, pastries, biscuits).
Avoid artificial sweeteners; Such as aspartame and sucralose. These can bring on a whole other set of health issues and could be avoided completely.
Increase health fats; Best sources include wild fish, raw unpasteurised milk, coconut oil, avocados, nuts, virgin olive oil, free range organic eggs and flax seeds.
Protein and fats; eat a protein and fat with every meal to help balance blood sugars.
Pure clean water; Changing from fruit juices and sodas to water is such a simple diet change that can have dramatic health effects. Drink enough to maintain light pale urine colour.
Fermented foods; Great support for digestion and liver detoxification. Options include sauerkraut, natto, kimchi and kefir.