18 April 2009

SugarSweet tooth? It could be far sweeter than you think and tooth decay and weight gain aren't the only health problems we risk as a result.
The scary truth is that health experts believe even those of us who don't take sugar in tea or eat lots of sweets may be consuming far more sugar than is healthy.

Over the past 30 years, food manufacturers have doubled the amount of sugar they add to products. Yet most of us are blissfully unaware that we're eating more of the sweet stuff than ever. It's not just our teeth and our weight that are being put at risk by hidden sugars.

The Crunch
They found that obese people dramatically underestimated the amount of sugar they consumed each day. Those who ate the most consumed as much as 207g a day that's nearly 52 spoonfuls and four times the recommended daily limit hidden in everyday foods. The sucrose shown in their urine is mostly found in table sugar, processed foods, cakes, biscuits and soft drinks.

SugarIs Sugar Addicting?
Research has indicated that sugar may be addictive. When researchers at Princeton University, US, fed rats a diet that was high in sugar, they noticed that the rats became anxious when the sugar was removed, and experienced symptoms similar to the withdrawal symptoms of smokers or morphine users - chattering teeth and the shakes, for example.

Diabetes Risk
Eating a lot of sugar can makes you likely to put on weight, and also increase your risk of diabetes. Women who drank one or more sugar-laden drinks a day, having previously consumed one or less a week, almost doubled their risk of Type-2 diabetes compared with those who drank fewer than one sugary drink a week.

SugarIt's thought that a sugary diet increases calorie consumption and weight gain linked to Type-2 diabetes resulting in unhealthy spikes in blood glucose, which can lead to insulin resistance, a condition that often precedes diabetes.

The International Journal of Obesity suggests that consuming lots of high-calorie sugary drinks alongside 'diet' drinks may confuse your body's appetite control centre - and actually lead to overeating.

Cancer Concern
HoneyOne recent major European study found that women with the highest blood sugar levels increased their chance of developing cancers such as those of the pancreas, skin, womb and urinary tract by 26%.

Another new study conducted in Sweden and published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition suggests that drinking two or more sugary drinks a day can increase your risk of pancreatic cancer by 90%, while people who add sugar to their food and drink at least five times a day are at a 70% increased risk of the disease.

Experts believe that raised blood sugar levels put a strain on your pancreas, which in turn could increase your cancer risk. Research also shows that eating a lot of sugar increases the oxidative stress in your body - the free-radical havoc that damages healthy cells and can lead to premature aging and cancer.

A wealth of research has linked a diet high in starchy foods such as potatoes, rice and white bread with an increased risk of pancreatic cancer. While not sugary foods per se, they are rapidly converted into sugar in your body - which requires excess insulin to help process the sugars in foods.

SugarSo How Much Sugar Do You Have To Eat To Be Eating Too Much?
According to the British Dietetic Association, the recommended intake of 'added sugars' such as honey, fruit juice, jam, soft drinks and those in processed food, as well as the sugar you add to food is 10% of your total daily calorie intake. That's about 50g a day for those on 2,000 calories. For your information, one level teaspoon of sugar weighs 4g and contains 16 calories.

DEFRA estimates that if we were to cut our added sugar intake by 1.75% of energy a day, 3500 premature deaths could be prevented each year.

Avoid Your Sugar Traps
Start to make some sensible swaps to reduce your intake.
  • Nutrition InformationChoose wholegrain cereals or porridge instead of sugar-coated varieties.
  • Swap canned fruit in syrup for those in juice and go for carbonated water with fruit juice added rather than sugary drinks.
  • Fructose (sugar in fruit) doesn't cause the same rapid rise and then drop in blood sugar as sucrose (the sugar found in processed foods). Natural fructose is absorbed slower.
  • Watch out for brown sugar, it may contain slightly higher levels of a few minerals, such as potassium and magnesium.
  • Read labels, forms of sugar in processed foods are also called glucose, dextrose, fructose, invert syrup, corn syrup, raw, brown or demerara sugar, glucose syrup, lactose, maltose, hydrolyzed starch or treacle.
  • You can control your by make predominantly home-cooked diet. Try to prepare meals yourself and don't fall back on processed, packaged foods.

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