Sugar is hidden in a lot of packaged foods and most people eat more sugar than they realise. Australians are eating on average 30 teaspoons of sugar a day. In total that equates to 2200kj of energy consumed, and that is all it is-pure energy.
White sugar is made from the sugar cane plant, however as a result of processing there are no nutrients left behind in the sweetener. Instead all the nutrients remain in a dark and thick syrup known as blackstrap molasses, which contains iron, calcium, selenium and Vitamin B6.
Pure white sugar is chemically made up of one molecule of fructose and one molecule of glucose, which is defined as a disaccharide.
Too much sugar can have dire effects on our health and here are some examples:
- When you have a meal high in sugar there will most likely be some sugar that sticks to your teeth. The bacteria will use the sugar as food and produce acids. These acids are what cause tooth decay.
- The fructose component of sugar is metabolised differently to the glucose component. The only organ that can process fructose is the liver. If the liver gets overloaded with too much fructose then it is forced to convert it to fat. This extra struggle on the liver can also increase the chances of developing fatty liver disease.
- A meal high in sugar will increase blood sugar levels. In turn the body responds to decrease the blood sugar levels by secreting insulin, which allows glucose to be taken up into the cells. However if your blood glucose levels spike day in and day out, the cell receptor for insulin will become less sensitive. Therefore the insulin will not work as effectively and your blood glucose levels will continue to rise, yet your cells will be starved of food. This is termed insulin resistance and is shown to be involved in many diseases such as obesity, metabolic syndrome, cardiovascular disease and Type 2 diabetes.
A great way to decrease your sugar intake is to:
- Cut down on adding sugar to your tea or coffee
- Substitute cordials, soft drinks and juices for water
- Read the labels of condiments and all processed foods you eat. You will be amazed on how much extra sugar you are eating without even knowing it! Try using vinegar based condiments such as Tabasco sauce, mustard or a simple and delicious combination of lemon juice and olive oil
- Try making your favourite cakes and biscuits at home and use alternative sweeteners like Stevia, xylitol or brown rice syrup
As you begin to reduce your sugar intake you will notice that your energy levels will become more balanced, the extra weight will start falling off and any niggling aches and pains may fade away.