Eating too much sugar is one of the worst things you can do to your body. Everyone knows that sugar is empty calories, but it is far more sinister than that. Sugar is uniquely fattening because it directly produces insulin resistance. It has been shown to contribute to obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, cancer and tooth decay. Reducing added sugar intake is a healthful idea.
Sugar is naturally present in a lot of foods like fruits, vegetables, milk, cheese and even grains. Different forms of sugar are present in most processed and prepackaged foods like ice cream, cookies, candy and soda, and as ‘hidden’ forms in less obvious products like ketchup, pizza-pasta sauces, yogurts, bread, and salad dressings.
A distinction is usually made between naturally occurring and added sugars. The two key differences are the amount and concentration. Fruit contains far less fructose than processed foods. They also contain vitamins and nutrients along with a large amount of soluble and insoluble fibre (the ‘pulp’). This dietary fibre may act as an ‘antidote’ to the harmful effects of fructose. The bulking effect of the fibre prevents overeating.
On average, sugar makes up 17% of what children consume each day. That’s a lot of sugar and half of that comes from drinks with added sugar! Excess consumption of added sugars, especially from sugary drinks, contributes to the high prevalence of childhood and adolescent obesity. The American Heart Association (AHA) concluded that strong evidence supports the association of added sugars with increased cardiovascular disease risk through increased caloric intake, increased weight, fatty tissue deposits and deranged cholesterol levels.
Here are some tips for you to cut your added sugar intake
- Read nutrition facts labels carefully
You also can find added sugar by reading the ingredients. The “hidden” sugar forms have various names like such as corn sweetener, corn syrup, dextrose, fructose, glucose, high-fructose corn syrup, honey, lactose, malt syrup, maltose, molasses, raw sugar, and sucrose.
- Shift your preference to water for hydration
Avoid soda, sports drinks, sweet tea, sweetened coffee, and fruit drinks.
Even the “sugar-free” juices have large amounts of the hidden forms of sugar. Prefer having a whole fruit instead.
- Go fresh and limit processed, pre-packed food
Sugar is often added to them while they are being processed. For example, there are hidden sources of added sugar in processed foods like ketchup, dried cranberries, salad dressing and baked beans.
- Avoid refined carbohydrates
These include avoiding sources of carbs which include white flour, white pasta and white rice. The body quickly breaks down these foods into sugar, which causes an instant sugar rush and required large amounts of insulin are required to deal with the spike. As soon as the blood sugar goes down, we feel hungry again.
When baking your cookies, brownies or cakes, cut out the sugar called for in the recipe by one-half. Also, cut down on the portion size of the dessert you consume.
Dr. Deepti Arora, Physician & Diabetologist