Make this year healthier by cutting down on sugar

It's not so simple, but you can do it.

Sweet foods are loved by nearly everyone, especially by the children. Sucrose is the sugar you commonly put in tea and coffee. This sugar is also found in fizzy drinks, cakes, biscuits, jams, marmalades, chocolate, ice cream and processed foods.

In the middle of the 16th century, sugar was so expensive that only the wealthiest people could afford it. Nowadays, food manufacturers use sugar for the preparations of their products - sweet-tasting food sells. Consequently we find it not only in canned fruit and confectionary, but also in canned vegetables, sauces, soups and even in meat and fish products. Be aware that food with low-fat labels may contain high sugar, be sure to check the labels first before buying the product.

Sucrose, or white sugar as it is more commonly known, is extracted from sugar beet or sugar cane and has "empty nutrients". Other sweeteners such as brown sugar, honey and molasses have no more significant nutritional value than white sugar.

In our society, alarmingly the taste of sugar is developed at a very young age and therefore there it is no surprise that many people crave sugary foods. The more sugar and sugary foods you eat, the more you crave it. Most children are born with a sweet tooth, which is fine. Naturally sweet foods including carrots, sweet potatoes, parsnips, melons and mangoes should be favoured over products containing large quantities of simple sugar, such as chocolate.

It is demonstrated by studies that children are eating too much sugar and obesity is quickly becoming a real problem in young people, as well as in the adult population.  

Obesity is not the only consequence of too much sugar, studies have also found other sugar-related health problems, such as:

  • The concentration of sugar in the mouth damages the teeth causing tooth decay.
  • High intake of sugar can diminish the appetite for foods rich in minerals, leading to a deficiency of the nutrients needed for good health.
  • High intake of sugar may effect intestinal permeability causing digestive problems.
  • A high sugar diet is also thought to lead to behavioural problems in children.
  • It also can be linked to other serious health problems, such as heart problems.  

When the body fails to control the high level of sugar in the blood, the condition is known as diabetes mellitus. When blood sugar is too low, it can result in weakness and fatigue and this condition is known as hypoglycaemia. Hypoglycaemia is often associated with too much production of insulin, resulting in too much sugar being driven into cells.

Minimising sugar intake, eating small, frequent meals and focusing on fresh fruit and vegetables, whole grains, legumes, seeds, low-fat dairy and fish can help to stabilise sugar levels.

During practice, a common trend nutrition professionals notice is that when sugar consumption is reduced to a minimum, many patients stop craving sugar.

Nutritionist Resource is not responsible for the articles published by members. The views expressed are those of the member who wrote the article.

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