The Truth About Sugar

 

More and more of us are choosing to live a life that is sugar-free, but why? After decades of high sugar intake, we have only recently begun to understand the havoc it is wreaking on our health. Too much sugar can drive disease, mess with our mental health and disrupt our diet. Read on to discover the bitter truth hiding behind the sweet taste – and what you can do to surrender the sugar!

 

The ‘S’ Word

Sugar is an important part of our diet but it’s rapidly gaining a very negative image - and with good reason in the case of refined or added sugars. Whilst naturally occurring sugars from fruit, are welcome in a healthy, balanced diet, added refined sugars that we find covering donuts or in sweets are the problem. These added sugars are similar in molecular structure to all sugars occurring naturally in fruit, the simple difference is the quantities that are added to artificially sweeten the end products. Sugar-rich treats are everywhere, they are stacked right from the entrance of stores to the check-out counter – all to entice you to blow your daily sugar intake right out the door!

 

The Glass is Half-Empty

The reason most of us enjoy sweet-tasting foods is innate. Our ancestors evolved to have a preference for sweet things (1) – because they’re usually energy dense and so the best for survival!

But sugar provides masses of ‘empty’ calories – which have no additional nutritional value other than to provide energy.

In the modern world we have a more diverse food supply than ever, and it is far better to get energy from nutritious foods which promote health, rather than sugar which harms it.  

 

Sugar SOS

Removing sugar from the diet is not a fictitious fad or passing phase, but a lifestyle choice which will directly prevent a number of chronic health conditions.

Decades of research has shown that eating too much sugar promotes weight gain, tooth decay and the onset of Type 2 Diabetes (2).

Let’s take a look at how this is affecting the UK population.

 

Tooth Decay

  • 170 operations every day to remove multiple rotted teeth from children (3)
  • Number one reason for child hospital admissions
  • 25% of children under five have decay (in 3 or 4 teeth on average)
  • Sugar consumption is the number one cause of tooth decay

Sugars in the mouth cause bacterial growth which creates an acidic environment, together these combining factors create the perfect habitat for the development of dental caries and tooth decay. This is especially a problem for young children as their teeth are still growing.

Removing sugar from the diet promotes stronger and healthier teeth. Curve your cravings with sugar alternatives such as NKD Living Erythritol – a natural sugar replacement that oral bacteria does not feed from and so protects teeth from decay. Research suggests that Erythritol promotes oral health, keeps breath fresher for longer and prevents the build-up of plaque (4).

 

Obesity

  • By 2034 70% adults are expected to be overweight or obese
  • Costs the NHS £5bn each year (with indirect costs estimated to be £22bn)
  • Children in England consume twice as much sugar as recommended
  • Childhood obesity is now a global epidemic

 

1 in 4 adults and 1 in 5 children in the UK are now either overweight or clinically obese. This is a serious risk factor for conditions such Type 2 Diabetes, heart disease, stroke and even cancer. Excess calorie intake is the direct cause of obesity.

Sugar is very high in calories per gram and has no other nutritional value, so eating it frequently can contribute to weight gain. This is particularly a problem for children who frequently drink fizzy drinks, fruit juice and energy drinks – which can contain the equivalent of 10 sugar cubes per serving.

Maintaining a healthy weight isn’t about removing everything from your diet that tastes good. It’s about finding healthier, more nutritious alternatives to your favourite treats – our Erythritol zero-calorie sugar replacement can be used to sweeten just about anything – looking after your cravings and calorie-count in one go!

 

Type 2 Diabetes

  • Leading cause of blindness in the UK
  • Complications with Diabetes cause more than 100 amputations to take place each week
  • 80% of Type 2 Diabetes is worsened by obesity
  • 5 million people in the UK will have Diabetes by 2025, that’s almost 10% of the UK population! (5)

Diabetes disrupts how your body metabolises sugar from the diet and can lead to problems with the eyes, kidneys, heart and nervous system.

Sugar doesn’t directly cause Type 2 Diabetes but you are more likely to develop the condition if you’re overweight. As we know, sugar plays a massive role in the expanding waistlines of the nation!

Eating sugar also causes blood sugar levels to spike, which is bad news if you’re diabetic. Our Erythritol sugar replacement does not affect blood glucose levels and has zero net carbohydrates (6). This makes it the perfect sugar alternative for diabetics. Studies have even shown that Erythritol balances blood glucose – making it the first sugar alternative ingredient to actively improve blood glucose stability (7).

 

Love your Labels

Sugar can be found in the most unexpected of places. From pasta sauce, to baked beans, to flavoured water – sugar couldn’t be more disguised if it was donning a fake moustache!

Learning to check your labels is one way to keep track of sugar intake…

  • Less than 5g of sugar per 100g is a healthier choice
  • Ingredients lists go from largest amount to smallest – if sugar is near the top of the list it’s likely to be an unhealthy choice
  • Check out the carbohydrate content – there’ll be a separate amount for sugar
  • Choose foods which are given the green light for sugar using the trusty traffic light system! And then watch your portion sizes!

 

Is the Sugar Tax Working?

In April 2018 the UK government introduced a sugar tax on soft drinks as a measure to reduce levels of childhood obesity. Drinks manufacturers now have to pay higher tax on products with high sugar content.

It’s too early to say if the sugar tax is working but it certainly has caused most manufacturers to rethink their recipes. Many of the big brands have released versions of existing drinks which are lower in sugar, but that doesn’t mean they’re sugar-free.

Don’t get us wrong, it’s certainly a step in the right direction – but it only tackles one of many obesity obstacles.

Only time will tell if the sugar tax has been worth enforcing!

 

 Sugar Swaps

You needn’t be bitter about a life without sugar. The good news is there’s lots of sugar alternatives out there which will give you all of the taste but none of the trauma!

At NKD living we are passionate about health, nutrition and overall wellbeing – but that doesn’t mean we don’t enjoy a sweet treat.

That’s why we’ve produced our own sugar alternative which is 100% natural and calorie-free. What’s more, it won’t affect your blood sugar levels, teeth or be stored as fat.

Our Erythritol powder and granules can be used in all your favourite recipes to satisfy your cravings without a grain of sugar in sight. Derived naturally from fruits and plants, it gives food a satisfying sweet taste – without that bitter or chemical after-taste you get with stevia-based and artificial sweeteners.

But don’t take our word for it – we’ve been nominated for ‘Best Better-for-you Ingredient’ in the Food Matters Live Awards – and we’re thrilled to say we are now finalists!

Author: Stephanie Masterman  @Nutrinoggin

Dated: 18/11/2018

References:

  1. A. Ventura, A. and Mennella, J. (2011). Innate and learned preferences for sweet taste during childhood. Current Opinion in Clinical Nutrition and Metabolic Care, 14(4), pp.379-384.
  2. Tappuni, A., Al-Kaabi, R. and Joury, E. (2016). Effect of Free Sugars on Diabetes, Obesity, and Dental Caries. Journal of Dental Research, 96(1), pp.116-116.
  3. UK 'oral health crisis': 170 youngsters a day have teeth extracted as sugar blamed for epidemic. [online] The Telegraph. Available at: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2018/01/13/uk-oral-health-crisis-170-youngsters-day-have-teeth-extractedas/ [Accessed 9 Nov. 2018].
  4. de Cock, P., Mäkinen, K., Honkala, E., Saag, M., Kennepohl, E., & Eapen, A. (2016). Erythritol is more effective than xylitol and sorbitol in managing oral health endpoints. International Journal of Dentistry. 2016
  5. Number of people living with diabetes doubles in twenty years. [online] Diabetes UK. Available at: https://www.diabetes.org.uk/about_us/news/diabetes-prevalence-statistics [Accessed 18 Nov. 2018].
  6. Hiele, M., Ghoos, Y., Rutgeerts, P., & Vantrappen, G. (1993). Metabolism of erythritol in humans: incomparison with glucose and lactitol. British Journal of Nutrition.69(1), 169-176.
  7. Noda, K., Nakayama, K., & Oku, T. (1994). Serum glucose and insulin levels and erythritol balance after oral administration of erythritol in healthy subjects. European Journal of clinical Nutrition. 48(4), 286-292.

 

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