The problem with sugar

In the past 15 years the consumption of sugar in Britain has increased by a third and it’s brought with it a whole host of problems; to the extent a new report from the Government is advising we half our daily sugar intake.

Britain, along with many other western countries, is facing an obesity crisis largely down to poor diet, high consumption of sugar and lack of exercise. More and more people are being hospitalised as a result with the figure set to rise unless there’s a large change to the national diet.

Sugar is the chief culprit behind this. Not only does high sugar consumption cause obesity and tooth decay but it is linked to type two diabetes, heart disease, chronic fatigue and cancer.

Sugar is a big component in the processed foods that make up the majority of diets – one in five breakfast cereals now contain more sugar than they did three years ago and a can of Coke contains the equivalent of nine teaspoonfuls of sugar (this number is more for supermarket-brand fizzy drinks.)

Unlike other foods, the more sugar we eat, the more we crave it. When you eat something loaded with sugar, your taste buds, your gut and your brain all take notice. This activation of your reward system is not unlike how bodies process addictive substances such as alcohol or nicotine – an overload of sugar spikes dopamine levels and leaves you craving more.

And with sugar hidden in so many foods, even ones we think are good for us like yogurts and smoothies, it becomes very difficult to avoid it or reduce consumption of it unless we really start to think about what we’re putting into our bodies.

There are many different types of sugar, with glucose being the most common, and it’s glucose that’s the easiest sugar for the body to convert to fuel. When we consume sugar, we produce insulin to process it which will turn any sugar not used as energy into fat. It’s then not hard to see why sugar takes the blame for soaring obesity levels.

By the age of 5, in in five children are already overweight or obese. Even more shocking is that one in eight 3-year olds have tooth decay.

So what can you do to reduce your intake of sugar? Here’s some suggestion:

  • Always read the label. Even if something is marketed as being good for you it could still have a high sugar content.
  • Avoid too many fizzy drinks or drinks from concentrate. Instead opt for water, milk or even diet versions of the drinks if you can’t manage going cold turkey.
  • Avoid processed food. This usually contains hidden sugar. It’s always much better to make your meals from scratch.
  • Limit treats. A treat, by its definition, should be something that is enjoyed as the exception rather than the norm. We know how easy it is to tuck into a slice of cake but like everything, treats are best enjoyed in moderation.

Reducing sugar will benefit your overall health and your oral health. To make sure you’re starting on the right track give your oral health a boost by booking a check up today.

Give us a call today – we’d love to help.