Is too much sugar killing us?
Do you know how much sugar you eat each day? Do you drink many fizzy drinks during the week? Do you have a sweet treat like a cake or biscuits between meals?
The scary truth is that health experts believe that even if you don’t take sugar in tea, or eat lots of sweets, you could well be consuming far more sugar than is healthy.
For example, many savoury foods on our shelves contain more sugar than ice cream – and that ready meals, breakfast cereals and even low-fat “diet” ranges are often packed with it.
A growing number of studies and health experts are linking sugar to accelerated ageing, obesity and related diseases, not to mention cancer.
What’s so bad about sugar?
1. It’s addictive.
A US endocrinologist recently claimed sugar is as addictive as cocaine. Even the smallest amount activates the brain and releases a burst of dopamine into the bloodstream, much like cocaine’s effect on the body. Just like drug addictions, the highs diminish with the more sugar you consume, so you develop a craving for more and more to get that same, feel-good fix.
2. It makes you fat.
Many people think that eating fatty food is the main cause of too much weight gain, but that’s not true. Sugar is the main thing that makes you fat. Unlike fat, sugar is quickly assimilated by the body, causing a sudden rise in glucose levels in the blood, and causes an instant energy boost. In response to high blood glucose levels, the body secretes more insulin, which makes the glucose level fall again. When your sugar level drops, you feel hungry and eat more food.
3. It’s bad for your skin.
If the promise of a slimmer waistline hasn’t curbed your sweet tooth, maybe the desire for smooth skin will. Experts now believe that a lifetime of overeating sugar can make your skin dull and wrinkled.
How much sugar is safe?
Now that I’ve scared the living daylights out of you, let me put all that in perspective! A small serving of sugar or the occasional sweet treat is not going to instantly translate into a new wrinkle or trigger multiple organ failure.
The World Health Organization suggests that you keep your sugar intake to no more than 10% of total calories. For most people, that’s about 50 grams of sugar. If you’re overweight or have any other risk factors for heart disease or diabetes, it might be wise to keep it to something closer to 5%.
Sugar by any other name
And sometimes, manufacturers try their best to hide it. Here’s a list of some common caloric sweeteners. If these appear in the ingredients list of your favorite foods, then you’re eating sugar in some form…
High-fructose corn syrup
Fruit juice concentrates