The impact that ‘sugar’ has on health has always been of interest to public health nutritionists but despite their best efforts to raise public awareness, it has very much remained out of the spotlight due to the food industries clever marketing strategies. Campaigns marketing food to consumers, like you and me, is very big business and it can leave even the most health conscious person confused and overwhelmed. That of course is up until recently, thanks to the advocacy of celebrities and chefs in the media who are determined to push the low sugar message. How refreshing, finally celebrity support for a very worthy nutrition cause.
When we think of ‘sugar’ usually the first things that come to mind are soft drink, lollies, cakes and biscuits. These foods contain what we call ‘added sugars’, but sugar is also found naturally in food like fruit, honey, dairy and some vegetables. Unfortunately many convenience foods that are labelled as ‘healthy options’ are also very high in sugar. Regardless of where they come from, natural or added, sugars in general are quickly digested, broken down and converted to glucose (the simplest form of sugar) to be used as fuel in the body.
Sweet is one of the very first flavours we learn to love as babies (breast milk and formulas are actually quite sweet), so from the very beginning, we as humans learn to associate sweet things with comfort and nourishment. It’s not surprising that many of us start a life-long love affair with sweet tasting food and drinks.
Supporters of sugar free diets claim that a high intake of ‘fructose’, a particular kind of natural sugar, is responsible for obesity and a whole range of other health conditions. The significance of this is that ‘fructose’ is used heavily in processed foods because it is cheap to buy for food manufacturers. Unfortunately the complexity of obesity is beyond that of sugar intake alone, nonetheless I am a huge supporter of the move to reduce ‘added sugar’ in our diet and see this new wave of interest as a positive move towards encouraging people to eat a more natural wholefood diet.
The trick to managing your sugar intake is to understand more about the hidden sugars found in processed food. Make the connection and then make a move towards replacing these with healthier swaps. Want to learn more? – To get started, I suggest you watch the amazing social experiment that Damon Gameau presents in his documentary “That Sugar Film” http://www.thatsugarfilm.com/synopsis/