Is Sugar Ruining Your Health? 4 Tips to Help You Cut Down
These days, it seems like every day we are bombarded with new death and disease-causing agents. It can seem impossible to separate fact from fiction – one minute, coffee will kill you, and the next you’re being told that a cup of coffee every day can be good for your health. Chocolate and red wine, carbohydrates, fat – nothing is safe from media scare-mongering and continuous crazes: fitness regimens and cookbooks promising to get your health back on track.
All this information can be confusing. So, what should you really be avoiding? Our favourite sweet ingredient, unfortunately, is something we all need to be careful of.
Is sugar ruining your health?
Too much sugar in your diet can (not will) cause:
- Weight gain
- An increased risk of heart disease
- An increased risk of diabetes
- An increased risk of cancer
- An increased risk of depression
- Accelerated skin ageing
- Accelerated cellular ageing
- A decrease in energy levels
- Fatty liver
- Bad dental health
According to the Australian Government initiative Health Direct, ‘evidence shows that most adults and children consume more sugar than is recommended […]’.
It can be difficult to monitor the amount of sugar you are consuming because it is hidden in so many of the foods and drinks that are easily available to us every day, such as:
- Fruit and vegetable juices
- Cakes and muffins
- Energy drinks and soft drinks
Sugar should make up less than 10% your energy, but according to Health Direct, many Australians are eating much more than that.
So how can you cut down on sugar in your diet? Here are a few tips for you to begin with – there are many more available on the Health Direct website.
Be careful of sugary drinks
One of the biggest culprits for sugar are the drinks we choose. Huge amounts of sugar is hidden in fruit juices and milk drinks. Sometimes it’s easy to think of drinks as ‘not counting’ towards our daily calorie intake, and this mindset can see our calories go through the roof.
So what should you be drinking instead?
Water, of course, is the obvious answer. If you have a sweet tooth, however, try to choose unsweetened fruit juices (not drinks). These can be diluted even further by adding sparkling water (or plain water) while still giving you a hit of sweetness.
Don’t fall victim to mid-afternoon snacks
If it gets to 3pm and you are craving something sweet to give you a boost for the afternoon, try reaching for a piece of fruit instead of cakes and biscuits (or sugary coffee!). Whilst fruit does naturally contain sugar, it’s not refined like the sugar added to processed foods. Plus fruit contains fibre and other nutrients that are essential to your overall health.
Sugar in hot drinks
If you love sweet, milky tea or coffee but want to cut down on your sugar intake, try slowly cutting down on the amount of sugar that you add until you can cut it out altogether. Or, if your sweet tooth is just too strong, try replacing sugar with honey.
Become familiar with nutrition labels
The nutrition labels on packaged foods provide all the information you need to know about what’s hidden inside processed foods. If you need to buy processed food or drinks, then always look at how much sugar it contains, and try to choose the brand with the lowest amount of sugar.
There are many different words used to describe ‘sugar’ – so don’t be tricked! Look out for ‘glucose’, ‘sucrose’, ‘fructose’ – the list goes on.
Slowly cutting down on your sugar intake will help to improve your overall health and will decrease your risk of developing certain diseases. Do some of your own research for more tips and tricks to cut down on this addictive substance!
If you're worried about the effects sugar might be having on your health, book an appointment with one of our doctors today to talk about the steps you can take for a healthier lifestyle.