The average Australian consumes around 40 teaspoons of sugar each day. Most of us are unaware of just how much sugar we are consuming on a daily basis because most of it hidden in processed and package foods. Find out more about sugar and how to limit your intake………
Most of us are unaware of just how much sugar we are consuming on a daily basis because most of it hidden in processed and package foods, even foods that are claimed to be healthy and not typically sweet. Sugar is classed as a carbohydrate, but carbohydrates also refer to whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. In this article, it’s free sugars that are being referred to which includes sucrose and fructose. These sugars are added to food and drink items by manufacturers and are naturally present in honey, syrups, fruit juices and fruit juice concentrates.
Why do we like sugar?
From birth, ‘sweet’ is the first taste humans prefer so our bodies are programmed to have a liking for sugar. This liking for sugar is also a biologically trait we have kept from hundreds of years ago when food was scare and we relied on sugar for a source of energy. When sugar is ingested it produces a natural “high” caused by the release of endorphin’s resulting in pleasure and this results in us continuing to seek foods high in sugar. What’s most scary about sugar is that it stimulates the same area of the brain as cocaine, having the same addictive properties as alcohol, smoking and drugs.
What does sugar do to our bodies?
Sugar contains no nutrients, encourages fat storage particularly around the stomach and organs, negatively impacts on mood, interferes with our metabolism, impairs brain function and contributes to chronic disease risk including heart disease, diabetes, even cancer. This year WHO released new guidelines which recommend that free sugars contribute to less than 10% (ideally less than 5%) of adults total daily energy intake (WHO, 2015).
So what does this mean to us?
This means reducing our intake to just 6 teaspoons (25 grams) of sugar per day. To put this into perspective Australians are consuming more than 40 teaspoons a day. And, just to give you an idea of the impact of hidden sugars:
- A serve of tomato sauce (20mLs) contains around 1 teaspoon sugar
- A single can of soft drink around 10 teaspoons of sugar
- A 250g serve of yogurt contains around 9 teaspoons of sugar
How can we reduce our sugar intake?
- When choosing packaged foods, opt for healthier choices, try choosing:
- Foods – Less than 5g and no more 15g of sugar per 100g
- Drinks – Less than 2.5g and no more than 7.5g of sugar per 100g
- Avoid adding sugar to coffee and tea
- Try reducing your consumption of packaged foods, soft drinks and fruit juices
Sugar has many different names on food labels – here are some of the other names for added sugar to look out for:
- Brown sugar
- Caster sugar
- Golden syrup
- Maple syrup
- Raw sugar
Read more HERE: FoodfactsIndex: Where is the Hidden Sugar
One last thought, from ‘That Sugar Film’:
After 60 days of consuming a high sugar diet of corporate-deemed ‘healthy’ foods (an average of 40 teaspoons of sugar per day well above the recommendations), the subject was able to revert back to good health and his body was able to recover through healthy lifestyle habits and family support. He also felt better physically and mentally. He had more energy and was able to lose the kilograms he gained over the 60 days. We can all make a change for the better and reduce our sugar intake for a healthier lifestyle. And I promise you – your body will thank you for it!
Definitely recommend watching ‘That Sugar Film’, it’s real eye-opener to sugar!
- Australian Government, National Health and Medical Research Council, Department of health and Ageing. (2013). Eat for health, Australian Dietary Guidelines Summary. Canberra: Commonwealth of Australia. Retrieved from https://www.eatforhealth.gov.au/sites/default/files/files/eatingwell/efh_food_label_example_130621.pdf
- Australian Bureau of Statistics. (2014). Australian Health Survey: Nutrition First Results – Foods and Nutrients, 2011-12. Retrieved from http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/Lookup/by%20Subject/4364.0.55.007~2011-12~Main%20Features~Discretionary%20foods~700
- LiveLighter, Cut back on Sugar: http://livelighter.com.au/top-tips/cut-back-on-sugar
- Heart Foundation, Carbohydrates and sugars: http://www.heartfoundation.org.au/healthy-eating/food-and-nutrition-facts/Pages/carbohydrate-sugars.aspx
- What Happens to Your Brain on Sugar, Explained by Science: http://mic.com/articles/88015/what-happens-to-your-brain-on-sugar-explained-by-science
- World Health Organisation. (2015). WHO calls on countries to reduce sugars intake among adults and children. Geneva, World Health Organisation: Retrieved from http://www.who.int/mediacentre/news/releases/2015/sugar-guideline/en/