The prevalence of sugar in foods today has skyrocketed. Its in snack foods, low fat foods, processed foods and fast food. It’s hidden in foods we may not even think contain that much sugar. This is the case in low fat foods. Low fat foods are marketed as healthy due to the low fat but when they take out the fat they replace it with sugar! So they can claim low fat while it contains 10-20 grams of sugar!
The daily recommended amount of sugar by the World Health Organisation is 36 grams (or 9 teaspoons) for males and 24 grams (or 6 teaspoons) for women.To put this number into perspective, the average can of coke has approximately 10 teaspoons of sugar, which easily puts men and women over their daily intake of sugar. Hundreds of years ago people were living of relatively low amounts of sugar and it has only been in the industrial age that the amount of sugar we consume has skyrocketed!
The average daily consumption of sugar is approximately 130-180 grams a day, which is around 80kg of sugar per year! You can imagine the effect this is having on our health and our quality of life as a whole.
Consuming this much sugar can have negative health effects such as:
- Increased blood pressure
- Insulin resistance
- Tooth decay
- Poor sleep
- Increased risk of cancer
- Increased pressure on the liver and fat around the liver
- Increased risk of heart disease
- High cholesterol
Sugar is very easy to overeat due to the addictive nature of the substance. Sugar is said to have the same effect on the brain as cocaine. It activates the same pleasure centres as this other drug, which is why people come back to it again and again. The dopamine release triggers a feeling of relaxation and reward. Another reason it is so easy to overeat is due to the fact that fructose has the ability to turn off appetite control within our brain. This means are brain will struggle to recognise when our stomach is actually full leading to feelings of hunger when in reality, we don’t need more food at that given time. Overtime this can lead to overeating and eventually weight gain.
As sugar is addictive, going off it can lead to withdrawals, which may make it seem like sugar is an essential part of the diet when as a matter of fact, it isn’t. Withdrawals can include headaches, tiredness, irritability, hunger, fatigue and mood swings. It will only take 1-3 weeks for the average person to kick the sugar habit and once you do, you will feel extremely better!