How much sugar are you really eating?
Are you waking up to a packaged cereal breakfast labelled “healthy”? Are you having a mid-morning snack consisting of a coffee with sugar and perhaps a muesli bar? How about banana bread? A big huge “healthy” muffin from the local Café? Perhaps you are even having a protein bar on your way to work or school? An energy drink? Can of Cola? Juice? Chocolate milk?
Sound Familiar? If you said yes to two or more of the above, chances are you’ve already gone over your recommended daily intake of sugar and its not even midday yet!
There’s a lot of misconceptions and misleading information regarding sugar in the media, via blog articles, in books and even on packaging.
While sugar isn’t the only health topic that’s relevant at the moment, I thought I would start with something somewhat familiar to us all and share my knowledge and research surrounding it.
Hi, I’m Sarah Jane Whitworth and I’ve been in the health industry now for 10+ years. I have worked with corporate health clients and the general public from children all the way up to older adults. My passion is to inspire, encourage and motivate people to be educated and well informed and be the best version of themselves through health and wellbeing
This includes nutritional advice and coaching, fitness programs and training and the overall wellness of a person as a whole – Mind, Body, and Spirit.
I am currently in the final stages of my Bachelor of Health Science in Naturopathy at the Endeavour College of Natural Health.
I have learnt a lot over the years of being in the field working as fitness trainer and coach, swim teacher, dance teacher and group fitness instructor. My knowledge has expanded to science, research, natural health, healing and nutrition within my studies through Endeavour, and I can only grow from here.
I hope to share my knowledge and research, findings and passions with you along the way and the first topic I want talk to you about is Sugar.
When I talk about sugar, I am talking about anything added to food products artificially to make them sweet. Added sugars such as high fructose corn syrup, sucrose, corn syrup, dextrose.
It is important to differentiate between sugars naturally occurring in foods and the added artificial, processed sugars in most packaged goods and for us to be aware of the difference.
Fruit has natural sugars that are good for you, especially considering the fibre content that fruit contains. Fibre being essential for regulating blood glucose levels, maintaining satiety and helping digestion. Drinking a can of soft drink or eating ice cream invades the liver and intestines with a large amount of fructose whereas fruit on the other hand does not reach the liver all in one go.
Fibre in fruit contains cellulose that only gut bacteria can break down, slowing digestion using specific enzymes to break down the whole food. This leads to a slower release of insulin in the body, instead of spiking insulin levels suddenly, which occurs with processed sugars.
So, what can be done about excess sugar intake?
Firstly – start by reading your labels. Eat whole food! Cut the processed packaged goods and go back to basics! You’ll find most the products in the “health” isle at your local grocery store aren’t so healthy after-all!
Why the big deal?
Obesity is a worldwide epidemic. Sugar is the leading contributor to obesity in children and adults, with Australia being top of the list. Excess sugar consumption leads to weight gain as well as diabetes, earlier risk of cardiovascular problems, tooth decay, brain fog, heart disease and high cholesterol (just to name a few).
The average sugar sweetened beverage contains a minimum 35-37 grams of sugar alone. That’s 9 teaspoons of processed sugar every time you have a small sweet drink! Excess consumption of sugar sweetened foods and drinks is associated with abdominal weight gain. Various organisations are calling for a review or reduction of sugar sweetened beverages to aid in preventing obesity in children to promote overall health.
There is need for targeted strategies to reduce sugar consumption among those that are already overweight, preventing further health implications and weight gain. With obese conditions being difficult to reverse, prevention via reducing sugar consumption is key to good health.
Are you aware of what might be a sugar sweetened beverage? Do you take your products as face value or are you looking at the back for the nutrition profile? If you are looking at the back, do you know how to read it?
Your eyes may go straight to the “sugar” amount in grams on the nutrition label, but are you checking what quantity it refers to? For example, on a Coca Cola 1 litre bottle the sugar content reads 27grams – then if you look above – it says “per serve” and there are 8 serves per container which means that the total amount of sugar in a 1 litre bottle of coke equates to 8 times what you are actually looking at briefly.
27grams x 8 servings equals a wopping 216 grams of sugar per 1ltr.
The label also states 0% fat but please don’t be fooled.
Excess sugar consumption, TURNS TO EXCESS BODY FAT and there are 54 teaspoons of sugar in 1ltr of Cola! If you were to get a bowl of sugar and measure out 54 teaspoons I’m sure you’d think twice about eating it all wouldn’t you? Then why aren’t we thinking twice about consuming sugary drinks everyday?
My top 8 no no drinks!
Read the label next time you go for one of these and let me know your thoughts.
- Chocolate milk
- Iced Coffee
- Energy Drinks
- Coca cola
- Soft drinks – anything fizzy!
- Juice – orange, apple, blackcurrant, cranberry
- Iced tea
- Sport drinks
Sugar can not only increase weight but is seen to worsen anxiety especially in teenagers, effect moods due to glucose levels, destroy sleep, increase weight and cause severe skin and immune conditions.
It is important to educate teenagers, children, even adults on the detriments to health that sugar plays a major role in. Encourage each other to choose a variety of seasonal, fresh, fruit and vegetables to promote a healthy lifestyle.
The World health organisation suggests that both adults and children should reduce the intake of sugars to less than 10% of total energy intake daily to reduce risk of diabetes, obesity and tooth decay.
Most importantly – Make no excuses
The world is at our fingertips these days with social media and the internet alone.
DO your research.
DON’T become complacent
Eat well, live well, be happy and healthy.
Till next time…
For Feedback, questions, enquiries or consult.
Please do not hesitate to contact me
Sarah Jane Whitworth
Malik, Vasanti S et al. “Sugar-Sweetened Beverages and Weight Gain in Children and Adults: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis.” The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 98.4 (2013): 1084–1102. PMC. Web. 28 Apr. 2016.
World Health Organisation
This Article was published in the nationwide ‘Lights Out” publication for boarding schools Australia alongside my flourless muffin recipe