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  • Writer's pictureAmie Butler

Are you sweet enough?

As it is sugar awareness week, I thought I would explain why reconsidering your sugar intake is a good idea.

How much sugar is too much sugar? The UK recommendation is that no more than 7 tea spoons (30g) of added sugar should be consumed a day by adults . To put this into perspective a chocolate digestive biscuits contains a teaspoons of sugar and a can of coke contains 9 teaspoons of sugar. Even so called ‘healthy foods’ such as cereal bars can contain added sugar-some up to 50g which are more or less the same as a chocolate bar. It can be tricky to know which of the ingredients are added sugars when checking food/drink labels. Here are some of the other names used for added sugar Fructose Dextrose, Glucose fructose syrup, Oligofructose syrup, Soft brown sugar, Honey, Brown rice syrup and Golden syrup.

Some of the other names used for added sugar are Fructose Dextrose, Glucose fructose syrup, Oligofructose syrup, Soft brown sugar, Honey, Brown rice syrup and Golden syrup.

So what happens when we eat a lot of added sugar? The levels of our blood are carefully monitored by the hormone insulin. After we eat a sugary cereal for example for breakfast that can contain up to 8 teapoons of sugar (100g), there is a spike in our blood glucose and insulin secretion from the pancreas. Also known as glycogenesis.

Continually spiking your blood sugar can cause something that is known as a blood sugar rollercoaster and can have negative health effects such as weight gain, increased risk of cardio vascular disease and type two diabetes.

What foods are better to eat to stop my blood sugar rising quickly?

Choosing unprocessed and whole grain carbohydrates do not break down into glucose molecules as quickly as white and processed carbohydrates. So rye bread for example has a different and more sustained effect on your blood sugar than a slice of white bread. In addition ensuring that you are eating protein with carbohydrates at each meal may help to stabilise blood glucose levels. Eating an apple with some nuts for example.

Increasing fibre intake may also help to prevent blood glucose spikes. Fibre can be found in the form of vegetables, nuts, legumes and whole grains. Not drinking enough water may also impact blood glucose levels. A hormone called vasopressin is produced when we are dehydrated, encouraging the kidneys to retain fluid and stop the body from flushing out excess sugar in your urine. One study of 3,615 people found that those who drank at least 34 ounces (about 1 liter) of water a day were 21% less likely to develop high blood sugar than those who drank 16 ounces (473 ml) or less a day. Everyone is different in terms of how much water they need to drink but aiming for 2 litres a day is generally recommended. Keeping a 2 litre jug or bottle of water your desk and a glass is a useful reminder to keep hydrated through out the day.

Roussel, R., Fezeu, L., Bouby, N., Balkau, B., Lantieri, O., Alhenc-Gelas, F., … D.E.S.I.R. Study Group (2011). Low water intake and risk for new-onset hyperglycemia. Diabetes care, 34(12), 2551–2554. doi:10.2337/dc11-0652


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