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Sugar – are they seeing the light at last?

For many years we Nutritional Therapists have banged on about sugar being one of the most detrimental substances, still classed as a food, that you can put into your body.

The discussion about sugar and calls to increase taxes on sugary foods is growing. It has been all over the news today, it was discussed on many chat shows and Jamie Oliver has strongly suggested an age warning be put on high sugar drinks, which is entirely right and he should be commended. Will the goverment act?

The fact that sugar is “BAD,” is now in the public psyche. For the last few years the media have been cranking up the message, but do people believe know just how bad it is? Do you? It’s fairly obvious that nearly everybody does not believe that sugar is that bad for them or there would be an overnight drop in the sale of all things sugary.

So who is it that sugar is BAD for, if it’s not you?

There is no doubt that scientifically, medically and nutritionally, refined sugars and carbohydrates are the root cause of obesity and related diseases.

But did you know that eating sugar or refined carbs regularly can have a detrimental effect on health of your good gut bacteria (flora) and therefore digestion and immune function. Sugar feeds undesirable microbes and as these microbes feed on sugar they release toxins into the blood and affect your immune response causing widespread inflammation and your general wellbeing. The more sugar you eat the more the ‘bad’ gut bacteria, yeast and fungi thrive. Good flora thrives on plant fibre, not sugar. We need the healthy flora as it is vital for the proper breakdown of foods, and the production of many substances that keep us healthy.

Sugar also feeds cancers and tumours, it causes systemic inflammation and creates a dangerous environment in the body. It has a huge effect on our mental wellbeing afterall sugar is a drug, it acts on our opiate receptors making us feel good for a short while, it wears off once our insulin response has kicked in and then we want more sugar or refined carbs. The cycle goes on.

It also has a huge effect on hormone balance: when your doctor says that sugar does not give you spots, ask them to explain the hormonal response to sugar. It can sap our energy even though it is pure energy, our bodies cannot no use the sugar unless we are constantly active –even then there is a price to pay for all the by products of burning too much energy. Sugar cannot stay in the blood it must be stored – sugar creates more fat in the body than eating fat!

Consuming sugar can also cause nutrient deficiencies as the body uses many nutrients in it’s effort to protect itself from a sugar onslaught.

Now here’s a question: Now you know all this, will you still consume sugary foods? Will you still let your kids consume sugary foods and drinks?

The truth is, no matter how much we try to stop our children consuming sugar when we are with them, all their friends have it and they influence each other. They are marketed to and targeted by the sugary foods companies It would take a huge collective effort to reduce the amount of sugar in children’s diet and the government needs to be hard hitting about sugar and the manufacturers because that’s where action is desperately needed.

We get kids addicted using fruit juice and fruit products at an early stage of their lives, giving them a taste for sugar and it’s almost impossible to give up. It is sadly sinister the way parents are lured into buying high sugar products for their very young babies, frustose and highly concentrated fruit products are NOT the answer to the “5 aday”.

Here is a list of the high sugar foods that we consume everyday:

  1. Fruit juice

  2. Cereals – with the exception of unrefined grains like oats, millet, buckwheat and brown rice products (unless they are high refined) Many mueslis claim to be healthy but these can contain more sugar per 100g than a chocolate bar!

  3. Yogurt – even a fruity one has added sugar – choose natural organic full fat.

  4. Smoothies – many smoothies even the freshly made ones contain so much sugar, it could have more than a fizzy drink!

  5. White bread – starts to break down into simple sugars in your mouth.

  6. Ready made pancakes.

  7. Toast & Honey

  8. Toast & Jams

  9. Toast & Marmalade

  10. Sweet spreads

  11. Ready made sweet products like pastries, tarts, croissants etc.

  12. Baked Beans from a can.

  13. Sauces – ketchup, brown sauces, BBQ sauces, Salsa, salad dressing etc.

  14. Ready meals

  15. Bread

  16. Milk – milk sugars

  17. Many restaurant meals – sugar is added to affect taste and texture.

  18. Hot chocolate, sugar in tea or coffee.

  19. Canned soups and other canned foods.

  20. Some meats and deli products like ham, sausages and other.

  21. Alcoholic drinks

  22. All sweet fizzy drinks.

  23. Sushi rice – a lot of sugar and gluten.

  24. Biscuits, cake and many crackers.

  25. Gravy mixes

  26. Sauces in a jar.

  27. Pop corn

  28. Flavoured crisps and snacks.

  29. Energy bars

  30. Health bars

  31. Dark chocolate

  32. Dried fruit

  33. baby foods

  34. Baby and toddler fruit drinks.

  35. Childrens ‘fruit’ products.

And many more. It is quite incredible how much sugar is in our diet. The good news is that if you make the commitment to reduce sugar, it can be done. It will take a while and your tastes will change, you will find that your taste buds may get more sensitive to the natural flavours of healthy foods, like a carrot for example – they are actually quite sweet and can be a great substitute when you fancy something sweet. There are now many natural sweeteners like Stevia, even using the sweeter sugars like Rapa Dura is better as you use less and it’s full of nutrients and not so ’empty’. The best way to treat sugar is as it always was treated 100s of year ago – as an occasional treat!


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