Did you know that there are two types of sugars; natural and added sugar. Finding out a bit about these can really help to understand all about the sweet stuff, helping you towards good health and wellness.
What is the role of sugar in the body?
When we eat carbohydrates in the form of complex (Multigrain, wholemeal, granary, seeded), starches (Potatoes, rice, pasta) or simple sugars (jam, honey, fruit juice, fruit) our body breaks down into the simplest component usually in the form of glucose.
The primary function of sugar in your body metabolism is to provide energy to power your activity. The simple sugars then travel through your blood stream to the body cells.
Natural sugars play an important role in the diet due to their essential nutrients that keeps the body healthy and prevent disease. Therefore, it is so important to ensure you consume two pieces of fruit a day and make sure you have different fruit abundance with colour. Variety is the spice of life!
Natural sugars are they bad for you?
Natural sugars are found in:
- Fruit as Fructose
- Dairy such as milk and cheese as lactose
People believe all sugars are bad for you because of the fructose and lactose content. Fructose is only harmful in large amounts and it is impossible to do this by eating fruit!
American heart association (AHA) state that a maximum of 150 calories per day (37.5grams or 9 teaspoons) per day for a man and only 100 calories (25 grams or 6 teaspoons) per day for a woman
World health organisation (WHO) state no more than 5% of your daily energy (Calorie) intake should come from added/ refined sugars
To clarify there are just 4 grams in a level teaspoon of sugar.
Added sugar contains no essential nutrients and is linked to many health issues
Added sugars can be found in:
- Cane or sugar beet are processed to extract sugar out of them
- Sucrose a type of sugar which combines glucose and fructose
- White and brown sugar is used to sweeten cakes, cereal, and coffee
- Food manufacturers add chemically produced sugar typically high fructose, corn syrup to food and beverages including crackers, flavoured yogurts, tomato sauces and salad dressing
- Low fat foods by replacing fat with sugar for taste, texture and prolong shelf life
- Processed foods add calories, sugar, and have little nutritional value
- Soft drinks
- Breakfast cereals
- Low fat products
Metabolism of sugars
Fibre in fruit slows down metabolism and fruit in the gut expands to make your gut feel full.
The body metabolises sugar in fruit and dairy differently to how it metabolises refined, processed added sugar. The body rapidly breaks down refined sugars causing insulin and blood sugar levels to skyrocket. Refined sugars digest too quickly. Therefore, you do not even feel full after you have eaten no matter how many calories have been consumed. In fact, you might feel sick rather than full if you eat too much.
We eat more refined sugars than our parents and grandparents did 3 decades ago, there were not the products and fast foods like there was years ago in fact sauces in jars were unheard of. This has resulted in obesity amongst adults and children.
“A high intake of sugar causes our blood sugar levels to shoot up, giving us that feel- good “high” followed by a crashing slump that leaves us feeling tired, irritable and craving more sugary foods”
How to look at labels to ensure you are having a low sugar diet!
Low ↓ 5g per 100 grams or lower
High ↑ 22.5g per 100 grams or higher
Ingredients (added, refined sugars):
Sometimes you do not see sugar listed as an ingredient. Manufacturers list them as individual sugars. Check ingredients list for anything ending in “ose”. Here is a list of sugars to help you identify them
- Corn Syrup
- Rice syrup
Ways to cut down:
- Reduce the sugar you add to hot drinks, gradually reduce, and come off completely
- Sprinkle cinnamon to coffee
- Be wary of sugar free products they contain artificial sweeteners like sucralose, saccharin, and aspartame
- Swap white bread, rice, and pasta for wholegrain versions like oats, granary, wholemeal breads, and brown rice
- Reduce sugar in recipes, use herbs and spices to boost flavour and taste
- Reduce fruit juice to no more than 200ml a day
- Pick me up recipe- Piece of fruit chopped up with a handful of nuts and a small pot of plain Greek yogurt. Contains protein and balances blood sugar and energy levels.