A drug is defined as: ‘A substance, which has a physiological effect when ingested’. Anybody with a child, who has just been given coke or comes home from a child’s party, knows the about that physiological effect. It effects adults too, for many it is addictive.
In American and England, added sugar only went from a luxury item, to an everyday item, in the 1700’s.Then, an average persons intake was about 5 g/day. In 21st century the average consumption of added sugar in New Zealand is around 140 g/day – around 32 teaspoons or over ½ a cup.
Note: Added sugar does not account for the sugar in whole fruits, lactose in dairy products etc.
The world health organisation recommends sugar to be no more than 10% of your diet and sugar is commonly found at the top of a food pyramid, often with a note saying ‘only have in small amounts’. Why health recommendations should include added sugar in any way at all makes me a bit confused. Not only does sugar contain no nutrients, it also displaces many food choices that do.
Some effects of sugar include:
- It suppresses the immune system.
- It upsets the absorption on nutrients.
- It can decrease fertility.
- It increases cholesterol.
- It feeds cancer cells
I could go on, and on. While a lot of people are not concerned with health until they are sick, I would say most people have some concern with weight, so I will let you in on a little secret – fat does not make you fat, sugar makes you fat!
Added sugar has absolutely no place in our diets when we are eating for health. Now I don’t live under a rock, I know sugar is apart of our society. It is a part of our social interactions, it is also very addictive, and it is hard to give up. Gosh I know this, sugar has been a part of my own eating for such a long time, I know more than I need to know about what sugar does to me, but I still battle giving it up!
My challenge to you is to decrease your sugar intake, what ever your sugar intake is. Over the next few days start looking at your food labels, concentrating only on sugar. Added sugar can hide in many forms from sucrose, fructose, High Fructose Corn Syrup, cane sugar, dextrose, corn syrup etc, this can get confusing. I recommend looking at the grams of sugar. Calculate according to your serving size and don’t forget to look at all foods – breads, yoghurts, juice, etc can be some of the most surprising culprits of hiding sugar
Note: some may say that the sugar in juice is not added sugar, but even if it is made straight from fruits, it is heated up so much that minimal nutrients are left. Unless you’re juicing you own, add that sugar from your boxed juice to your list.
Once you have added your intake of sugar (remember about 5g is equivalent to about 1 teaspoon), start to look at how you can decrease your intake of sugar. It may be having Greek yoghurt instead of fruit yoghurt or having a natural cereal over cornflakes. What ever it is for you, just start taking an interest in what you are putting into your mouth!
Last note: Please do not replace sugar for artificial sweeteners, see here for why i think they should not even be in our food supply.