Here’s why you should cut down your sugar intake today…
We were recently talking in the office about how much sugar you find in everyday food and drink. Things you consume without really thinking about it, like cereal or yoghurt.
Sugar provides the body with empty calories that give us energy without any nutrients. As a result, we eat more without feeling full or satisfied. This leads to an increased risk of weight gain, certain diseases, and a cycle of highs and lows in energy levels, which will leave you feeling tired and craving even more sugar!
We know that sugar isn’t exactly good for you, but at the same time we couldn’t agree on just how bad it is.
So, we did some research…
Your Recommended Daily Intake
The Government’s Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (SACN) recommends that our daily sugar intake should be less than 5% of our total energy intake.
This varies from person to person but as a rule of thumb that works out to be around 25 g for women, and 40 g for men.
To put this in perspective, a 330ml (small) can of coke contains 39g of sugar. That’s basically the suggested daily intake for men.
What does sugar do to your body?
Let’s start with the obvious ones.
Sugar can Cause Weight Gain
The SACN carbohydrates and health report found that the consumption of high sugar beverages and foods resulted in weight gain and increases in BMI.
Sugar supplies us with energy but no other nutrients meaning it is in no way satisfying for our bodies. This leads us to over consume. This means if you are able to dramatically cut down your sugar intake, losing those extra pounds will be much easier.
It’s bad for your teeth
We are all told this as children, it doesn’t stop us of course, but sugar rots your teeth and leads to gum disease. So, if you want that pearly white smile, best to avoid it as best you can.
Sugar contributes to diabetes
People with large sugar intakes are much more likely to develop type-2 diabetes.
The issues surrounding diabetes are complex. Sugar by itself is unlikely to be the direct cause of diabetes, however, it does contribute, you are much more likely to get type-2 diabetes if you are overweight. Other factors include genetics, and fatty foods.
It’s bad for your skin
We’ve all seen spotty teens running around and our first thought has been too many sweets. Well, we aren’t entirely wrong there. Too much sugar causes your insulin to spike which leads to inflammation through your body. This Inflammation produces enzymes that break down collagen and elastin, resulting in sagging skin and wrinkles. Aside from increasing the effects of ageing, sugar can also exacerbate skin conditions like acne and rosacea.
It’s bad for your heart
“When glucose spikes after eating sugary food, our insulin increases to compensate for it, and this activates a part of our nervous system which increases blood pressure and heart rate.” High blood pressure is a major risk factor for heart disease, as is diabetes and obesity, both of which have been linked to excessive sugar consumption.
Sugar also increases unhealthy blood fats called triglycerides in the blood, which up the risk for heart disease and stroke. In one April 2014 study, those who ate the most added sugar were most likely to die from heart disease than their counterparts who consumed the least.
It makes you tired but won’t let you sleep
We all feel like we need a quick sugar pick me up sometimes. I personally keep some dark chocolate in my gym bag for if I over do it and start feeling faint. However, consuming sugar gives your body a sugar spike which then forces it to over compensate by producing more insulin. This means the sugar spike lasts only a short period of time and then you crash. You then crave more sugar, and you begin a cycle of sugar spikes which could be detrimental to your sleep.
Sugar could very well be addictive
Although the verdict is still out on this, you can’t argue with the withdrawal symptoms people suffer when they reduce their sugar intake. Nor can you argue with the cravings that lead us to over consume sugars. Both of these things are signs that sugar is addictive.
Sugar is bad for your liver
Like alcohol sugar is processed in the liver. Too much sugar leads to fatty build ups around your liver. Some studies even suggest sugar is as bad for your liver as alcohol.
What can you do?
- Cut out fizzy drinks. They taste good, but not only are they full of sugar, our body processes this sugar very easily leading to very quick energy spikes.
- We’re sad to suggest it, but cut down on your desserts.
- Exercise frequently. This will give you something to focus on that isn’t your cravings.
- Check the sugar content of your food. Yoghurt for example often has surprisingly high sugar content.
- Be careful of fruit juices and smoothies. Whilst they are often sold as ‘healthy’, they can contain huge amounts of sugar.
- Breakfast cereals are another thing to be wary of. Some of my own favourite cereals like Crunchy Nut Cornflakes are hugely sugary.
- Jamie Oliver offers some great healthy recipes and advice on sugar.
All images sourced from Unsplash
We are no experts on these matters so please feel free to share any knowledge you have in the comments section below.
Our main sources, which we have linked to at various parts of the article, are: