Sugar! The bittersweet truth

Do you ever wonder if you’re a sugar addict? Sugar can be good for us or really bad when consumed excessively–do we even know the types of sugars we should be consuming and which ones are just no go areas? Let's find out!

Is sugar addiction a real addiction? 

Food addiction (FA) is loosely defined as hedonic (pleasure eating) eating behaviour involving the consumption of highly enjoyable foods (ie, foods high in salt, fat, and sugar) in quantities beyond homeostatic (living) energy requirements. FA shares some common symptomology with other pathological eating disorders, such as binge eating. 

Essentially for sugar to be considered addictive, it must induce a withdrawal. For humans to feel the symptoms of a sugar-induced withdrawal, a specific dose of sugar must be consumed over certain time periods, giving rise to neurochemical changes in the brain.

Wendy Williams exhausted | DNAfit Blog

That’s a lot, right? 

In short, there isn’t enough evidence to prove that sugar is addictive but it sure can be harmful, so its best to watch your intake carefully. It takes a little bit more self-control to curb those sugary cravings.

Sugar woes! 

Sweet tooth? Or Just down right too much...

How can you tell when your pallet leans more towards sugary foods or if you’re just doing the most and taking your sugar fix to harmful levels? 

Types of chocolate desserts | DNAfit BlogGear up we’re getting into the important things now; 

Listening to your body is very important, most times our bodies let us know when enough is enough. Just because right there and then you don’t feel ill it doesn’t necessarily mean you’re not causing damage over time. Let’s get into the real facts and stats around sugar consumption and get an understanding of how much sugar we should be having and much sugar is considered too much.

How much sugar is too much?

Now that you understand that you need sugar in your diet but that too much is critical to your health and wellness. What are the recent stats around sugar consumption?

2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends a daily intake of added sugars to make up no more than 10% of total daily calories. Of a 2000kcal/day diet, it translates to 50g of added sugars daily. The daily recommendation for improved health in relation to ones’ daily sugar intake according to the World Health Organisation is around 5 % of one’s daily calorie intake which is equivalent to 11g of sugar and should never exceed 25g. The average American consumes 17 teaspoons (71,14g) per day.

And it is not only the USA that consumes sugar excessively, although Americans are among the highest consumers of sugar on the planet. 

The official dietary sugar recommendation in the UK is to limit sugar to a maximum of 5% of ones’ total daily calories, equivalent to 25g sugar per day. According to the National Diet and Nutrition Survey (NDNS) sugars make up 14.7% of teenagers diet, aged 11 to 18.

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The daily sugar recommendation according to the American Heart Association varying by gender;

- A maximum of 6 teaspoons / 100kcal/day / 25g of added sugars for women

- A maximum of 9 teaspoons / 150kcal/day  / 38g of added sugars for men

How do I know how much sugar is in my food or drinks?

High sugar foods contain more than 22,5g of sugar per 100g and low sugar foods contain less than 5g of sugar per 100g. A high sugar containing drink contains more than 11,25g of sugar per 100ml and a low-sugar drink contains less than 2,5g per 100ml.

High intakes of added sugars can lead to the increased risk of being overweight and obese decrease intake of key micronutrients, increase triglyceride levels and increase the risk of inflammation and hypertension. Added sugars aid in contributing to a lot of one’s daily calories while leaving very little room for nutrient-dense foods. If that’s the case, the majority of one’s daily calories are being met through intake of added sugars, thereby leaving little room to include nutritious foods like fruit, vegetables, whole grains, dairy foods and lean proteins.

Oh Sugar! 

Good vs bad sugar

Where do we find different types of sugar? 

Fructose: found in fruits and honey.

Galactose: found in milk and dairy products.

Glucose: found in honey, fruits and vegetables.

Lactose: found in milk, made from glucose and galactose.

Maltose: found in barley.

Sucrose: made up of glucose and fructose and found in plants.

Fruits are a good dietary source of fibre, vitamins, minerals and some sugar. Fruits are a  healthier alternative to free added sugars. The key is not to confuse fresh fruits with fruit juices, smoothies and purees, even though they naturally come from fruits they still provide free sugars. Fruit juice is a poor fibre source if being compared to fresh fruits. A 125ml glass of fruit juice (half a glass), once per day is acceptable.

You’ve had a lot to take in and this topic does leave a bit of a bittersweet taste in all of us… You may have been on your way to cutting out bad habits such as drinking and smoking and working hard trying to lose weight but had no clue that there was something else that you may have been missing; sugar. 

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