This is the last part of carbohydrates so if you didn’t read part one and two this might be a little confusing. This entire post is about SUGARS and can be read on its own.
Before I begin I just want to point out again that I’m sharing what I’ve learned from the course — https://courses.edx.org/courses/course-v1:WageningenX+NUTR101x+2T2016/course/ — and my own experiences. I will clearly indicate when it’s from the course, it’s the cursive writing, so there is no confusion.
Health Effects from Sugar
If you’ve been following me awhile you might remember the little short challenge slash project I was doing on my Instagram while I was doing this week. This week in the course was the most eye opening and started ‘slap of reality’. It was a bloody good point I was making and although I stopped after a few shares, I still keep this into account. It’s almost a year later and it still helps with my sugar consumption. I still 100% agree with all of my slap of reality posts so I’m going to re-share a few of my favorites.
Here is the picture to the first every slap of reality post.
Knowing is one thing but seeing it is another and that’s my goal behind Slap of Reality. I want to show you just how much sugar is in your favorite goodies. Awareness is key. My goal is not to completely put you off from ever enjoying said treat. Now I’m going to throw the math at you. This snicker bar which consists of two 40g bars (but let’s face it you can’t just have one and leave the other one to feel lonely) contains 41,4g of sugar in total! So more than half of the actual sneaker bar is just sugar. To put it even more in perspective the total recommended sugar intake for myself is 65g. A healthy diet does in fact consists of sugar but the problem is that this sneaker bar that will take up more than half of my total sugar intake for the day is empty calories meaning it basically has almost zero nutritional value. My normal diet which consists alone of 65g (or that’s the goal) will be added to this 41,4g. A little bit of added sugar does little harm and thus can be part of a healthy diet but we are not informed or educated to properly interpret ‘a little bit’. And I’m sorry but 41,4g of added sugar is not a little bit 1g of sugar contains 4 calories which means in total the sugar alone in this sneaker bar is 165,6 calories. But I’m not done yet: I burn 13,536 calories in one minute of CONSTANT squatting. So this means it would take me 12 minutes and 23 seconds (give or take) of constant squatting to burn ONLY the sugar in this sneaker bar! It really makes you think doesn’t it? It’s no secret that I have a sweet tooth and an addiction to candy goodness but after learning about the negative health effects of sugar and the over consumption of it is eye opening. I’ve tried so many things in the past to cut down my sugar intake and this is probably the most successful. Seeing just how much sugar I would truly consume if I eat that sneaker bar and how much hard work it would take for my body to burn it is enough to make me rethink before eating my candy treats and that’s why I think ‘Slap of Reality’ is a clever way to reduce your sugar consumption
There is another slap of reality post I want to share so here goes.
75,4% of this packet is sugar. That’s 24 teaspoons of sugar. It has zero nutritional value. My slap of reality series is truly eye opening and not once have I been able to eat or drink any of the products I took the time to work out how much sugar it contains. I finally made that switch to sugar free candy. This is probably for the first time in my fitness journey that I’ve been able to stay candy free for longer than 7 days because now there is just no way of escaping the facts. I encourage anyone to take those extra few seconds to read the label and then make the educated choice if you want this inside your body. There is healthier alternatives for almost everything highly processed on the market. Now I’m in no way shape or form trying to throw shade on any of the products I show in this series. They just happen to be my favorite brand and favorite candies. Again like I’ve mentioned before a small amount of added sugar (25g according to the World Health Organization) won’t be considered unhealthy but this packet of sugar, I mean candy is not it. If you really adore these packets of candies, split it up into smaller portions. I personally can’t see myself devouring an entire packet in one go ever again. Be smart with your sugar, your body will thank you for it.
Looking back to that is a big ‘wow that’s insane’ moment. I really should start doing it again every time I want to stuff my face with a lot of sugars. I had a moment last year but now I take the sugar free option where I can. I also read the labels and explore my options for products with low sugar. Curing a sweet tooth doesn’t happen overnight. I mean I feel like even my new blog readers knows I’m a sweet tooth. I’m rewarding myself after one year of candy free by going to the northern lights. Now I’m even trying to follow a very low sugar diet. I will talk more about it some other time but let’s talk a little more about the course and what I learned from it. I mean this week inspired slap of reality which kind of forever changed the way I think of sugar and has made a massive difference in my overall health.
The next part comes straight from the course.
Many foods contain substantial amounts of sugar, often without us realizing it. Did you know that a blueberry muffin can contain up to 45 grams of sugar? And that a 12 oz (355 mL) can of regular Coke contains nearly 40 grams of sugar. Since so many foods contain sugar, how much sugar are we actually consuming?
Negative health effects of sugar
Why is the high sugar consumption in many countries considered to be bad? A number of valid arguments exist against consuming lots of sugar. An important concern is that added sugar is almost a synonym for empty calorie foods. Empty calorie foods are rich in energy (calories) but are relatively devoid of other nutrients and thus carry little nutritional value. The higher the consumption of empty calories, the less room there is for nutrient-rich foods, decreasing the nutritional quality of the diet.
Another concern is that sugar is often consumed in liquid form, for example in soft drinks or fruit juices. Scientific studies have demonstrated that consumption of a food in liquid form is less satiating than consuming the same food in solid form. For example, drinking apple juice is less satiating than eating an apple. High consumption of sugar-rich beverages may therefore lead to caloric excess and weight gain.
WHO’s current recommendation, which was last revised in 2002, is that sugars should make up less than 10% of total energy intake per day. The new draft guideline from 2014 also proposes that sugars should be less than 10% of total energy intake per day. It further suggests that a reduction to below 5% of total energy intake per day would have additional benefits. Five per cent of total energy intake is equivalent to around 25 grams (around 6 teaspoons) of sugar per day for an adult of normal Body Mass Index (BMI). The suggested limits on intake of sugars in the draft guideline apply to all monosaccharides (such as glucose, fructose) and disaccharides (such as sucrose or table sugar) that are added to food by the manufacturer, the cook or the consumer, as well as sugars that are naturally present in honey, syrups, fruit juices and fruit concentrates. The guidelines from 2002 were met by strong opposition in the USA from the US Sugar Association. The US Sugar Association urged lawmakers in the US congress to consider withdrawing funding to the World Health Organization.
Before I continue, the course goes into a lot of detail about sugar (there is another 16 pages worth of information) and I really don’t want to copy and paste everything so I’m going to try to keep it as short as I can. If you want to read everything (16 pages)
An ongoing sugar frenzy
At this moment, there is a lot of discussion about sugar and obesity. Many people believe that excess sugar consumption is a major culprit in the current obesity epidemic. The negative image of sugar is mostly confined to added sugar, not the sugar already present in foods such as milk and fruits. People such as Gary Taubes and many others have written books and generated lots of publicity claiming that the high sugar consumption is responsible for most of today’s health problems, especially obesity. According to them, eating sugar makes you ill and fat. They claim that most of our health troubles would simply disappear if we stop eating sugar. The anti-sugar movement preys on the inherent desire among the general public to appoint a convenient scapegoat to a particular societal problem. And with that I don’t mean to say that people such as Gary Taubes don’t have a point. I am just saying that people like to hear that a very complex problem has a very simple explanation. Accusations have also been raised against sugar as contributing to poor mental health, including depression, impaired learning ability, and anxiety, although these are very poorly substantiated. Other people have gone so far as to consider removal of dietary sugar as a universal panacea.
What is the view of nutrition scientists? Most nutrition scientists and health authorities have expressed concern, serious concern about the high sugar consumption in many countries, and recognize that efforts need to be undertaken to lower added sugar consumption, especially in children. However, they do not consider its avoidance a simple cure for obesity and are not necessarily happy with the singular focus on sugar in certain media and the hyperbole that inevitably accompanies a blind fixation. They are concerned that the overemphasis on sugar and fructose has distracted us from the importance of avoiding caloric over consumption, which ultimately is responsible for weight gain. Reducing sugar intake will certainly be helpful toward that effect but obviously there is more to the contemporary diet that demands our attention.
The course continues with the strategy that the sugar industry is taking which was quite interesting to learn. It then looks into replacing sugar by non-nutritive sweeteners. There is one last part I want to take out from the course before we call this sugar lesson a day.
Sugar and tooth decay
Nowadays, excess sugar consumption is mainly discussed in the context of obesity. But before our society became obese, sugar already had a bad name for its connection to tooth decay. From a dentist’s perspective, a steady diet of sugary foods and drinks, including juice and sports drinks, can damage teeth and should thus be discouraged. Sugar itself is not directly damaging to teeth. Sugar provides the substrate for bacteria that grow in our mouths and produce acids. It is the acid that negatively affects our teeth by softening and gradually dissolving the hard enamel surface covering the teeth.
This part was interesting to me as well all know that I have some teeth problems and I blame it all on my really high sugar consumption the majority of my life. I’ve been meaning on seeing the dentist since the health insurance restarted this new year but I’m being a massive baby. I will probably surrender soon. I still loath seeing the dentist. The entire experience is horrible and I always got sick afterwards so honestly being adult sometimes sucks. But let’s finish this post before I get distracted.
The course continues talking about health effects of dietary fiber, lactose intolerance, diabetes and glucose intolerance. It’s truly a very informative and great source. I’m going to end this blog here as I feel like I’ve made my point. Sugar can be a silent killer. Keep your sugar consumption into account. I’m not saying cut all sugar out for the rest of your life I’m saying enjoy it in moderation and go for the healthier option when you can. Weigh loss will most likely follow. I hope you found this post enriching and educational.
Thank you so much for reading. I wish you all the best and I will see you in a click!