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Let’s get real about SUGAR!!

Let’s face it, we all love sugar!! For thousands of years sugar has been right up there in terms of giving the human body energy to run, hunt and function. The problem today is that the quality of sugar consumed is highly processed a lot of the time. We have gone from berries, fruits and vegetables to cheap and easy access of lollies, chocolate and packaged foods that are loaded with sugar to make these type of food taste good.

What foods contain the best sugars?

Sugar occurs naturally in all foods that contain carbohydrates, such as fruits and vegetables, grains, and dairy. Sugar found in foods that come in their original form such as fruits, vegetable and grains are totally fine to eat as they also contain essential vitamins and minerals as well as the key ingredient fibre. Fibre aids in slowing down the rate at which the body digests these foods which provides your body with long lasting energy without spiking your blood sugar. Eating wholefoods as mentioned above has shown to reduce the risk of chronic diseases, such as diabetes, heart disease, and some cancers.

Now we understand what foods contain the best sugars, let’s see the top foods that contain added sugars. These are the foods you need to limit and only have occasionally and/or in moderation. Most of these will be common sense but some may surprise you.

Top foods that contain added sugar are:

  • Soft drinks
  • Fruit drinks
  • Flavoured yogurts
  • Cereals
  • Cookies
  • Cakes
  • Lollies
  • Soups
  • Bread
  • Cured meats
  • Tomato sauce
  • Peanut butter
  • Tea, coffee – if you do have sugar in your tea / coffee ask yourself how many cups are you having a day

Let’s bring SUGAR front of mind and into perspective!

The BIG question, how much is too much?

For women no more then 24g (6 tsp) of added sugar per day and around 36g (9 tsp) for men. When you pay greater attention to the foods you eat, you will notice that there is sugar is most processed foods including flavoured tuna, a product that is healthy but also needs to be monitored for the sugar content. I would suggest under 5grams of sugar per 95 gram tin.

When does SUGAR become problematic to your health?

Many manufacturers will add sugar to foods to increase flavour and also to extend shelf life, cost wise this is a great option for the manufacturer but it does not take into consideration the health of the consumer.

The risks of consuming too much added sugar:

  • Raises your blood pressure
  • Increase chronic inflammation, which leads to joint pain and immobility

Both high blood pressure and inflammation can lead to heart disease, you would know someone who has had heart disease or who is on blood pressure medication as heart disease is the worlds biggest killer so we have to get real and be proactive in preventing heart disease. In today’s society there is so much choice and the foods that are not the best choices are usually the cheapest and taste great because they contain added sugar. We need to rise above and focus on the 80/20 rule, eating well 80% of the time and allowing the occasional treats in, this will be a great start and your body will love you for it.

How do I read food labels?

Food labels can be so confusing because a lot of the time there will be ingredients on the list that you have never heard of and commonly these ingredients are just other words for sugar Here are some examples:  

  • brown sugar
  • corn sweetener
  • corn syrup
  • fruit juice concentrates
  • high-fructose corn syrup
  • honey
  • molasses
  • dextrose, fructose, glucose, lactose, maltose, sucrose

Total sugar, which includes added sugar, is often listed in grams. Note the number of grams of sugar per serving as well as the total number of servings as you may eat more than the serving size. Also remember that ingredients are listed from highest to lowest so if sugar is the first or second ingredient on the list you know that the product has a high sugar content.

Side effects of eating too much sugar:

  • Obesity: consuming too much sugar is seeing obesity rates increase dramatically around the world. Obesity can lead to risk of cancer as well.
  • Hunger never satisfied: Consuming fructose (think table sugar) found in processed foods increases your hunger and desire for food, the more you have the more you want. It can also mess with your hormone leptin which regulates your hunger and lets you know when you have had enough. If this hormone is not working properly you will overeat which can lead to weight gain, obesity and diabetes.
  • Inflammations, high triglycerides, high blood sugar, high blood pressure which are all risk factors for heart disease
  • Mood swings: Eating sugar that is not paired with vitamins, minerals or fibre will send your blood sugar sky rocketing, you will feel great one minute, then your blood sugar will crash and you will start to feel tired, no energy, maybe a little sick along with feelings of guilt. Then your blood sugar works hard to rise up to normal levels again. For many people depending on their food choices this can be a vicious cycle even leading to bouts of depression.
  • Increase risk of developing gout, fatty liver, kidney disease
  • Impaired memory – linked to dementia
  • Speeds up the ageing process – Wrinkles are a natural sign of ageing but choosing poor food choices can accelerate the process. Sugar can cause damage to collagen and elastin, which are proteins that help the skin stretch and stay youthful.

We all need to get real when it comes to our sugar consumption, the research is out there to warn us that eating sugar without pairing it with vitamins, minerals and especially fibre is harmful to all of us if consumed regularly. This sounds like common sense but too much sugar is having such a detrimental effect on so many people’s health around the world with some not even realising or consciously making a plan to positively change. Research shows that it takes 10 days to break a sugar habit, these 10 days can cause side effects such as headaches, but the reward at the end of not craving sugar is well worth it. Remember the more sugar you consume the more you want.

What does your sugar intake look like?

Do you have a go to treat that is always in your cupboard that you continue to re-stock regularly?

This blog is all about taking the time to re-assess and think about where your health is at and to decide if you need to tighten things up a little when it comes to consuming sugar! x

If you need help finding a healthy rhythm with your food my ‘Kim Beach Life’ program can guide you with my daily eating plans that have a lot of flexibility including vegan / vegetarian options.

Click here to read all about Kim Beach Life and start your 14 day free trial – if you have any questions please email my us any time at info@kimbeach.com 

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