Eat less sugar

Eat less sugar! Not less fat - less sugar!

September 2016 \\ Category: Sugar

 

70% of all deaths in the US are due to chronic diseases (1). It is not fat or lack of exercise that leads to a world population of fat, depressed people suffering from diabetes-2, heart diseases and cancer... Research has found out that it is SUGAR. An average Western person eats 40% too much sugar every day, which has devastating consequences on our health.

 

Diabetes will be one of the the biggest killers in the near future due to our changed sugar habits. If we continue our present lifestyle it is estimated that by 2040 10% of the world's population will suffer from diabetes (2).

 

The new recommendations from the World Health Organisation (WHO) say that both adults and children should have a maximum of 10% of their daily calorie intake should consist of free sugars (free sugars include amongst others monosaccharides and disaccharides added to foods) (3). This equals a maximum of 12 tsp (50 g) per day. And WHO further recommends that a reduction to 25 g (6 tsp) per day would provide significant additional health benefits (4). Did you know that just one ready-made meal from the supermarket easily contains 10 tsp (40g) of sugar! So by eating just 1 ready meal you are in the risk of being amongst the 40% who gets far too much sugar.

Processed food is the main reason, why we get way too much sugar in our diet. It has become normal to eat ready-made and processed food. We see it everywhere - low fat ready-made products are loaded with sugar, processed food and sugary drinks are now normal in many American and European schools, it has become the supermarket's super simple and easy alternative for our busy generation, we are bombarded with extra big sizes of meals in fast food restaurants, gas stations are turned into candy stores etc etc. It is difficult to avoid sugar - it has become an unavoidable part of our lives.

 

For many years we have been told that fat and lack of exercise, are the sinners of overweight and obesity. There has been little emphasis on sugar. The obvious question is - why has sugar been left out of the recommendations? Some people argue that the recommendations are driven by money and the big food producers. The Journal of the American Medical Association has just (September 2016) published an article stating that the American Sugar Association in the 1960th paid 3 Harvard scientists to give incorrect evidence as to sugar's health impact. They were paid to point out fat, especially the saturated fat, as being the main reason for our health problems. The Western world is experiencing an explosion in obesity these decades, which means something is definitely wrong. We obviously haven’t been given the right advise - which has had devastating influence for the global health.

 

2 of 3 Americans in the US are overweight according to the National Institutes of Health - with 1 in 3 being obese (5). Western Europe is closely following this pattern. WHO report says that 74% of men and 64% of women in UK to be overweight by 2030 (6).

 

Obesity is a serious public health problem, as it significantly increases the risk of chronic diseases such as type-2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, hypertension, coronary heart diseases and certain cancer types. For specific individuals, obesity may further be linked to a wide range of psychological problems. For society as a whole, it has substantial direct and indirect costs that put a considerable strain on healthcare and social resources.

For 5 decades we have been taught to believe that fat - and not sugar - is the reason for health problems in our society. All research now points in the direction that we have been misled.

This "cover up" obviously has had tremendous negative influence on our habits as it made us believe that sugar is OK while fat is bad. We have followed this health advise for 5 decades now. The food industry has during these decades removed fat from their products and replaced it with sugar. Sugar actually has some of the same addictive effects as cocaine - it increases the dopamine levels similarly. (In the brain dopamine functions as a neurotransmitter—a chemical released by neurons (nerve cells) to send signals to other nerve cells). Getting off the sugar addiction can be compared to going 'cold turkey' from drugs, say Australian scientists from Queensland University of Technology. Their study found that long-term consumption of sugar will slowly cause a reduction in dopamine levels, which means that people need to consume higher and higher levels of sugar in order to reach the same reward levels and avoid mild states of depression.

 

According to a 2014 study published in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine, 10% of Americans consume 25% or more of their daily calories in the form of added sugars. Most adults (71%) get at least 10% of their daily calories from added sugar (7).

 

Many of us have become sugar addicts - with devastating consequences. Maybe you have tried to minimise your own or your children's sugar intake and realised the craving? There is nothing more frustrating than hysterical children - it is unfortunately easier to give them their "fix". It takes a lot of stamina to reduce the intake for both yourself and for others.

 

Children should have less - no more than 19g a day for children aged 4-6 years old (5 tsp), and no more than 24g (6 tsp) for children aged 7-10 years old.

 

The recommendations do not include intrinsic sugar, which is found in whole fresh fruits and vegetables, as these come with essential vitamins and minerals in the greens.

Stay away from processed food - cook real food -

and you will NOT have any problems with too much sugar

How much hidden sugar in processed food?

Much of the sugars consumed today are “hidden” in processed foods that are not usually seen as sweets. Approximately 80% of the 600,000 packaged foods you can buy in the US have added calorific sweeteners (this includes bread, burgers, things you wouldn't add sugar to if you were making them from scratch). The reason is that the food industry has substituted fat with sugar as it has shown to increase sales.

 

You may be shocked by this article from Harvard Health to find out just how much sugar is in these common products (9):

 

Soda:

If it’s not diet, the average can of fizzy drink contains up to 40g, or 10 teaspoons, of sugar. That’s more than the recommended 10% in just a few slurps! So in principle by drinking one soft drink you have exceeded the recommended daily intake of sugar. Scary isn’t it?

 

Cereal:

The high sugar content of breakfast food is now widely recognised. Many popular brands of cereal contain 9-10g, or more than 2 teaspoons, of sugar per serving.

 

Processed food:

While not always obviously sweet, these tend to be packed with sugar. Last year a Which survey found that supermarket ready meals can contain up to 50g of sugar – that’s 10 teaspoons.  Dishes containing sweet, sticky sauces were found to be among the worst offenders, including sweet and sour chicken and pad thai.

 

Ketchup:

1 tbsp of ketchup contains around 4g (around 1tsp) of free sugars, and most people add about 3 tbsp of ketchup to their burgers. Those 12 gr of sugar from the ketchup alone is more sugar than you’d find in a serving of 2 chocolate chip cookies, which contains only 9 g of sugar!

 

It is unfortunately so easy to exceed the recommendation of 12 tsp a day if you eat processed food as a part of your daily diet. If you have a bowl of breakfast cereals in the morning (2 tsp), ketchup for one of your meals (3 tsp), a can of soda during the day (10 tsp), sweetened yogurt for a snack (10 tsp), you are on approx. 25 teaspoons already!!

 

So, it is obvious why the amount of obese people increase so rapidly in the Western countries.

Unfortunately, most people still eat far more processed foods than real foods, and the health consequences of this choice are significant.

WHO recommends to eat 12 tsp per day - preferably 6 tsp.

However, a readymade meal can contain up to 10 tsp.

That is 100% too much

in just one meal!

If you just eat an average amount of cereals, ketchup, soda and flavoured yoghurt in one day, you have already exceeded the sugar recommendations by 40%!

Sources:

(1) http://www.cdc.gov/chronicdisease/

(2) https://www.statista.com/topics/1723/diabetes/

(3) http://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/10665/149782/1/9789241549028_eng.pdf?ua=1

(4) http://www.who.int/mediacentre/news/releases/2015/sugar-guideline/en/

(5) https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/health-statistics/Pages/overweight-obesity-statistics.aspx

(6) https://www.theguardian.com/society/2015/may/05/obesity-crisis-projections-uk-2030-men-women

(7) http://www.reuters.com/article/us-sugar-diet-idUSBREA121IK20140203

(8) http://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/sugar-has-similar-effect-on-brain-as-cocaine-a6980336.html

(9) http://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/sugar-many-disguises-201605189590

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