We all know that the best diet is a healthy balanced diet with minimal added salt or sugar. however, we all know too that sugar is a fantastic flavour enhancer and can give you that energy kick you need when feeling tired or stressed. Below, we explore the topic in detail!
Eating healthy means, above all having a balanced diet. Sugar is ubiquitous in the typical Western diet, so it’s hard to avoid its consumption altogether.
Many products such as sauces, soups, ready meals, and yogurts contain “hidden” sugars.
Sugars can be found naturally in many foods such as milk, fruits, and vegetables. These are the added sugars or “free sugars” that you should be wary of. But this type of sugar is not a problem.
A diet rich in added sugars can be the cause of many chronic diseases such as obesity, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes.
Fight against overweight and obesity.
Reducing your sugar intake can help prevent obesity. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), obesity has tripled worldwide since 1975.
Although several factors can lead to obesity, such as lack of physical activity or even psychological disorders, high sugar consumption also plays a role.
Sugar is high in calories and has no nutritional value. It has also been proven to have a long-term effect on how our body produces insulin, one of the main hormones in our metabolism.
This is because when you eat sugar, your body releases insulin, a hormone made by the pancreas that your body uses to process sugar. This leads to a rapid rise in the level of sugar in the blood, called blood sugar.
When this process is frequent and habitual, it can result in consistently high insulin levels. This can lead to the condition known as insulin resistance, where the body does not respond appropriately to insulin, and your pancreas has to produce more and more of it, which can be a precursor to type 2 diabetes.
This process can also lead to weight gain, especially around the abdomen (visceral fat). Abdominal fat is associated with an increased risk of diseases such as heart disease.
If you believe you may be overweight or obese, a doctor can advise you on healthily losing weight.
Avoid chronic inflammation
Sugar stimulates the production of fatty acids in the liver, producing compounds that can lead to inflammation.
Inflammation is just one of the body’s natural defense mechanisms. This is how the immune system recognizes and eliminates harmful stimuli and promotes healing. This is called acute inflammation. It can take the form of swelling, pain, or a rash.
Silent chronic inflammation (slow and long term) occurs when this process continues in the body after the external signs have subsided. It has been directly linked to an increased risk of developing diseases, including cardiovascular disease.
By reducing your sugar intake, you lower your body’s chances of developing this type of chronic inflammation, and you increase your chances of maintaining better long-term health.
Have better skin
Eating too much sugar can therefore lead to inflammation and insulin resistance, which can have a negative effect on our skin.
A recent study shows that there is a link between insulin resistance and acne. According to this study, too much insulin can lead to the production of androgens (male hormones), which in turn can cause increased production of sebum (fatty secretion) in the pores of the skin and trigger acne.
Be more cheerful
Cutting back on sugar may improve your mood. While a sugary treat can give you a quick boost when you’re feeling down, eating too much sugar can affect your mood in the long run.
Foods high in sugar can actually lift your spirits or give you energy when you need it when you are tired. But they can also cause blood sugar to drop when their effects wear off, leaving you craving. It can become a vicious cycle of starvation that is difficult to break.
By replacing sugary and processed foods and snacks with whole foods and complex carbohydrates, you are giving your body a long-lasting form of energy. This means fewer cravings, or ups and downs, throughout the day, and in turn, you may find that you are more focused and in a better mood.
Reduce the risk of dental cavities
Tooth decay affects 80% of the world’s population, and research shows dietary sugar is the most important risk factor for tooth decay.
The researchers concluded that brushing teeth can only partially reduce the impact on tooth decay and that reducing sugar remains the best way to reduce the risk of tooth decay, especially in children.
The WHO recommends that free sugars make up no more than 10% of daily energy intake, although ideally, free sugars should be reduced to 5% of total energy intake.
This, therefore, means that:
Adults should not consume greater than 30g of free sugars per day (about seven lumps of sugar);
Children aged between 7 & 10 should have no greater than 24g of free sugars per day (6 lumps of sugar);
Children aged between 4 & 6 should have no greater than 19g of free sugars per day (5 sugar cubes).
There are no guideline limits for children under four years old, but avoiding foods and drinks containing added sugars is recommended.
Did you know?
A 500ml bottle of Coca-Cola contains the equivalent of 54g of sugar or 13.4 teaspoons of sugar.
A typical 45g chocolate bar contains about six teaspoons (24g) of sugar.
An average glass of white wine contains around 7.5g of sugar or just under two teaspoons of sugar.
100ml of sweetened fruit juice contains 9.8g of sugar or just under 2.5 teaspoons of sugar.
A fruit yogurt contains about 16.6 g (per 100 g) or just over four teaspoons of sugar.
Always check the nutrition labels of foods:
Foods with a high sugar content contain more than 22.5g of total sugars per 100g.
Foods low in sugar contain 5g or less of total sugars per 100g.
Watch out for hidden sugars in salty or sweet sauces, dressings, ready meals, yogurt, take-out, pizzas, and soups.
Many food labels mention added sugars in different forms, but they always have the same effects. The following terms suggest the presence of added sugars:
Cane juice, sugar, or crystals;
Dextrose or dextrin;
Fructose or concentrated fruit juice;
Sugar (palm, raw, beet, brown, invert);
Syrup (corn, maple, rice, barley, malt);
Here are some alternatives to reduce your daily sugar intake:
Instead of sugary sodas, opt for water with a squeeze of lemon or a few slices of cucumber or strawberries for taste.
Substitute a bowl of unsweetened oatmeal with a handful of berries for the sugary cereal.
If you are used to flavored yogurt, plain Greek yogurt with fresh fruit is a great alternative.
Eating regularly helps keep blood sugar stable:
Choose complex carbs over refined carbs - these include foods like brown rice, wholegrain or sourdough bread, quinoa, and whole-wheat pasta.
Include a little protein with every meal, such as lean meat, poultry, fish, eggs, tofu, or legumes like chickpeas and lentils.
Prepare healthy snacks for when you’re hungry between meals, so you don’t crave chocolate or sweets. Here are some suggestions:
Nuts and seeds;
Raw vegetable crudités with hummus;
A handful of red fruits;
Apple slices with a teaspoon of nut butter;
Two oatmeal cakes with hummus or nut butter;
A small pot of cottage cheese;
Plain yogurt with berries, nuts, and seeds.