We are eating too much sugar: Learn how to spot what’s hidden
Sugar is everywhere and they can be disguised under different names, including dextrose, fructose, glucose, and maltose.
Globally, there is a positive correlation between sugar consumption and diabetes and obesity. Consuming too much processed food is also another way in which we take in a lot of sugar without even knowing it. Below, I will identify how to track the amount of sugar you consume based on the nutritional value of the food packaging. I’ll use teaspoon measurements, since most of us have an idea of what a teaspoon actually looks like.
How to calculate sugar consumption
4 grams of sugar = 1tsp
Therefore if you are consuming, let’s say a 16oz bottle of soda with an approximation of 42 grams, divide 42 grams by four to get the conversion. From our calculation, that equates to about 10.5 teaspoons of sugar. Are you shocked yet?
Sports drink are not safe either, so unless you are Usain Bolt, LeBron James or Serena Williams and you’re exerting a tremendous amount energy in a short timespan, you do not need to replenish with a sports drink. A 20oz Gatorade consists of approximately 36 grams of sugar. Using the same format, that’s nine teaspoon of sugar. The same goes from Red Bull, and we could go on about many other processed foods that have bombarded the supermarket shelves.
The World Health Organization has also been leading the charge to encourage individuals and households to decrease their sugar intake. It separates sugar into two categories; free sugar and intrinsic sugar. Free sugar is what we refer to as added sugars by manufacturers, and they include monosaccharides and disaccharides. It is also the natural sugars that can be found in fruit juices, fruit juices concentrates, honey and syrups. Intrinsic sugar can be found in whole fruits and vegetables, and research shows that they have no adverse health effects.
“The recommendations to reduce the intake of free sugars and to do so throughout the life course are based on analysis of the latest scientific evidence. This evidence shows, first, that adults who consume less sugars have lower body weight and, second, that increasing the amount of sugars in the diet is associated with a comparable weight increase. In addition, research shows that children with the highest intakes of sugar-sweetened drinks are more likely to be overweight or obese than children with a low intake of sugar-sweetened drinks.
The recommendation is further supported by evidence showing higher rates of dental caries when the intake of free sugars is above 10% of total energy intake compared with an intake of free sugars below 10% of total energy intake.” - World Health Organization 2015
Sugar is sugar, but all sugars are not created equal. For instance, fructose occurs naturally in fruits, but it is not the same as high fructose corn syrup, which is made of corn starch. The main difference is the level to which high fructose corn syrup spikes the blood sugar because they have a higher glycemic index. The daily recommendation for added sugar is about six teaspoons — about 25 grams or 100 calories worth, says the American Heart Association. The Ministry of Health also offers these figures.
Why is fructose a problem? There are several reasons: it may contribute to unhealthy changes in liver function, triglyceride levels, and insulin sensitivity; it is harder to digest, especially for people with Irritable Bowel Syndrome than other sugars; it may result in overeating and weight gain, which can ultimately lead to diabetes or obesity. In short, it creates that dopamine (pleasure) effect that is present in drugs to keep you hooked.
Now, the onus is on you to use the above calculation with some of your favorite processed foods and see how much sugar you are actually consuming to determine if it’s really worth it.
See the list below of natural sugars to consider instead. These have a low glycemic index and the calories they contain are indicated, if you are counting them for your diet. These sweeteners may be safer for consumption than table sugar, but it doesn’t mean that you are to go buckwild.
Sugar is reportedly referred to by 56 different names, which can make reading nutritional labels difficult. Do not fall victim. Identify sugar in the products you consume by learning some of the most common names under which they may be found:
●High-fructose corn syrup
●Sugar cane juice
●Fruit juice concentrate
●White granulated sugar
●Evaporated corn sweetener