Quit sugar? Don’t quit sugar? Cut out refined sugar? Don’t eat fruit? Only use Stevia? Don’t use Stevia? Stay away from fructose? Sucrose? Aspartame? AAAGH! It’s confusing right? Not to mention the plethora of names sugar is called.
There are so many headlines each day about the latest fads or trends. It’s my job as a health coach to navigate all this information for you.
But as a busy woman, are you often looking for sugar to get you through the day?And what actually is the low down on sugar? What is it really doing our bodies?
There is overwhelming mounting evidence to indicate that too much sugar is not only bad for our waistline but may induce metabolic changes that lead to increased risk of heart disease, diabetes, cancer , effect our hormones and so much more. It is not the only contributor, but in excess, it certainly does contribute.
WHO (World Health Organisation) has now stated its recommended daily intake should be for an adult, no more than 6 teaspoons of sugar per day ( less for children)
Sadly, we are eating much more on average than this. Some children are eating as much as 25 plus teaspoons a day, most of this is hidden in the food they are eating. Lets take yoghurt for example. We think it’s a healthy option for our kids ( and us!), we encourage them to have it, but it all depends on what yoghurt we are giving them. A serve of unsweetened plain full-fat yoghurt has about two teaspoons of sugar (lactose) from the milk, but many flavoured yoghurts have another five or more teaspoons of table sugar (sucrose) added by the manufacturer.
We are simply eating too much of the white refined stuff.
Much of the sugar we consume today is hidden in processed foods that we may not think of as sweets. WHO gives the example of tomato sauce – with one tablespoon containing around one teaspoon of sugar. It’s in most sauces and packaged foods. Take for example the ‘low fat’ trend. If you read ingredients list any low fat products, there is sugar in them. You see fat equals flavour, so when you take the fat/flavour out of a product you need to replace it with something, so they replace it with sugar. You just may not recognise the name. It could be sweetened with artificial sweeteners or called something other than sugar, but as far as the body is concerned, it’s sugar! The sweetness can then balanced out by using salt, so it becomes a double whammy!
Then there are the obvious sources of sugar, such as soft drinks. For example, a 600ml bottle of Coca Cola contains 16 teaspoons of sugar alone. Even a 200ml of pure apple juice contains the equivalent of five teaspoons of sugar. Refer to images below.
So, are all sugars created equally? Well, in my opinion no, not completely!
I am not going to bore you with too much science about sugar and the body but the surprising truth is that by the time any sugar’s circulating in your bloodstream, it doesn’t matter whether it comes from a Red Delicious Apple or a marshmallow. It’s treated the exact same way: With the release of insulin, the hormone in charge of collecting sugar from the blood and depositing to your muscles, organs and fat stores—a wholly necessary process for pretty much every function in the body.
What is happening in the body before it reaches the bloodstream?
Let’s take High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) for example;
High fructose corn syrup is an industrial food product and far from “natural” or a naturally occurring substance. It is extracted from corn stalks through a process that is actually a secret. Now that immediately raises my eyebrows! The sugars are extracted through a chemical enzymatic process resulting in a chemically and biologically novel compound called HFCS. Fructose is sweeter than glucose and cheaper, this is why so many in the food production industry use it in their products.
Now here is a little biochemistry lesson- “Since there is there is no chemical bond between them, no digestion is required so they are more rapidly absorbed into your blood stream. Fructose goes right to the liver and triggers lipogenesis (the production of fats like triglycerides and cholesterol) this is why it is the major cause of liver damage in this country and causes a condition called “fatty liver” which affects 70 million people. The rapidly absorbed glucose triggers big spikes in insulin–our body’s major fat storage hormone. Both these features of HFCS lead to increased metabolic disturbances that drive increases in appetite, weight gain, diabetes, heart disease, cancer, dementia, and more.”
– Dr Mark Hyman article ‘5 Reasons High Fructose Corn Syrup Will Kill You’
So what about other sources of sugar?
When comparing the white highly refined sugars to say a piece of fruit or maple syrup, well these latter sugars have a different nutritional profile and they all have a different GI (which means the rate in which the sugar is released and absorbed into our bloodstream)
Let’s take whole fruit for example. There is fibre, which is great for sweeping our bowels and water found in whole fruit which increase satiety, as well as vitamins and minerals, all differing from fruit to fruit.
Pure Maple syrup contains calcium, magnesium and manganese. It’s also low in fructose.
Rapadura sugar contains Vitamin A, E and C as well as potassium, magnesium, Niacin, phosphate and iron.
Coconut Sugar its low-glycaemic and has a nutritional profile including amino acids, potassium, magnesium, zinc, iron and B vitamins.
Organic raw honey contains natural antioxidants, enzymes and minerals including iron, zinc, potassium, calcium, phosphorous, magnesium and selenium. Vitamins found in honey include vitamin B6, thiamine, riboflavin, pantothenic acid and niacin. It has an anti-inflammatory action. Manuka honey in particular contains anti-micro bacterial properties.
Rice malt syrup is made from 100% organic brown rice. It is made through culturing rice with enzymes to breakdown the starches and then cooking until it becomes syrup. The final product contains soluble complex carbohydrates, maltose and a small amount of glucose. RMS is 100% fructose free. The importance here is that the carbohydrates in RMS provide a steady supply of energy, requiring up to 90 minutes digestion time. In short, avoiding the blood-sugar rollercoaster is the key to satiety, hormonal control and weight management
White refined sugar contains no nutrients, mineral or enzymes. It is highly processed, high GI and of no real benefit to the body.
Bottom line is we all need to eat less of any kind of sugars. Too much and it not only goes to our hips, thighs and buttocks, but can lead to many other diseases and ailments. If you want more information, read “Sweet Poison’ By David Gillespie or watch “That Sugar Film” directed by Damon Gameau.
I for one know that it does not agree with me and only have it in small amounts but if I do bake or cook with it, I stick with the sources that provide me with a little extra nutrition and have a slower release in my bloodstream such as the examples above.
A NOTE ON ARTIFICIAL SWEETNERS-
I do not recommend artificial sweeteners in any form and strongly suggest you read this well researched article to find out more about the negative impact that these artificial substances have on our bodies.
Below is a list of 60 different names for sugar…and this doesn’t cover them all, especially artificial sweeteners.