The first thing we need to understand is the different types of sugar and what they do to our body.
Naturally occurring sugars
Natural sugars are those that occur naturally in food and are not manufactured in any way. Natural sugars are found in fruit (fructose that is in fruits and in dairy products like milk, cheese, known as lactose). Foods that contain natural sugar are one of the most important kind of foods in our diet not only because of that fact that when you eat that kind of food reasonably – you do not crave any sweets but also because it is not manufactured and is pure and natural. When it comes to sugar, this is the best option for you.
Processed sugar comes from sugar cane or sugar beets. Sugar is extracted from the beets in factories. The most common name for processed sugar is sucrose. This is the combination of glucose and fructose. As most of you know, we add white or brown sugar to coffee, tea, cereal, yoghurt, cakes, buns, etc. Processed food uses high-fructose corn syrup which is added to almost everything: hot beverages, tea, cakes, food (even if the food does not need any sugar!), yogurt, ready to go meals, salads, ice creams. The most important thing is that food called “low-fat” can be the most dangerous for your health. Without fat in food, factories add sugar to make the taste better. That is why something like fat free yoghurt tastes so good.
Saccharine is also known as white crystalline powder. Why is it so bad for our health? Because saccharine is almost 300 times sweeter than popular sugar and has no decent calorific value! This is the most common artificial sweetener out there. Where can we find it? Almost everywhere. If there is said that juices are “natural” you can be almost sure that saccharine is lurking inside. It is also found in chewing gums, tomato juice, mouthwash, and toothpaste. It is even in products that you would not expect that sugar would be added to! Did you know that saccharin was one of the most carcinogenic products that a human has ever produced? It was put on the list of the most carcinogenic products but unfortunately it was later removed.
Aspartame is an artificial non-saccharide sweetener that is almost 200 times sweeter than sucrose. Can you believe that something can be even sweeter than sugar??? Aspartame is used as a sugar substitute in foods and beverages, for example in most if not all sugar free drinks you can find aspartame. It is one of the most dangerous sweeteners on the market now and can seriously harm your health.
So how much sugar is too much?
Unfortunately, nobody knows how much sugar is too much. As we are all different the effects will change from person to person – one thing to be sure of though, too much of anything can damage your health irreversibly. Some people eat sugar all the time without any harm and they do not gain any weight and do not suffer from that many health problems. It is said that on average men can eat 9 teaspoons of sugar per day and women – 6 teaspoons. The best thing to do is to be more health conscious – read the label and be aware of what you are putting into your body, just because something is sugar free doesn’t automatically make it good for you.
Is sugar addictive?
Yes, it works like a drug and stimulates the same areas in the brain as certain drugs do. We like eating sweets when we are sad, happy, miserable or feeling bad. We do not think about sugar as a danger but as something that will make us happy and solve the problem short term. Suddenly, we realise that we cannot live without sugar. Yes, there is a syndrome called “sugar addiction” but it is not so hard to overcome this addiction, especially when compared to others.
You can easily check if you are addicted to sugar by trying to not eat it. If you said to yourself that you would not be eating sugar but you constantly do… it means that sugar may have become a problem in your life. There is no other option – you just need to cut out sugar and do your best to stick to this rule. You can start by not putting sugar in your coffee or tea. The next step is to avoid high sugary products like jams, marmalade, sweets, sugary pops etc.
In the beginning it is normal that you can feel angry, weak and nervous. Why? It is the same situation with something like smoking – an addiction is an addiction and beginnings are always hard but imagine when you have been successful in cutting sugar from your diet? Your health will be much better and you can even avoid many different diseases connected with sugar.
Cutting down on sugar will improve your lifestyle, over time you will actually feel more energetic and less like to or have those dips in mood when you come down off the sugar rush. You will lose weight, look better and become a better lover in the bedroom. As you confidence grows, you will feel the ability to take on the world whether that be in your work life of social life. For those of you consuming dangerous levels of sugar make sure you discuss everything with a health professional before changing your diet as it’s imperative you get medical advice to maintain your safety throughout, after all they are the experts. In most cases a few simple lifestyle changes are all that is required to get you on track to a healthier, happier you.