I really want to make it clear that I DO NOT believe everyone is addicted to sugar and whilst sugar is probably okay in very small quantities, most of us are simply eating too much of it.
This white powder; which also goes by names like glucose, fructose, honey, coconut sugar, agave syrup and corn syrup; is found in 74 percent of packaged foods in our supermarkets. A new Word Health Organization guideline recommends:
‘adults and children reduce their daily intake of free sugars to less than 10% of their total energy intake. A further reduction to below 5% or roughly 25 grams (6 teaspoons) per day would provide additional health benefits.’
To put it in perspective the typical American diet is comprised of 13 percent calories from sugar, I can imagine as South Africans we are not too far behind.
Here is a brief summary of my and Pabi’s chat on PowerFM.
- Who is behind the ‘movement‘?Damon Gameau embarks on a unique experiment to document the effects of a high sugar diet on a healthy body, consuming only foods that are commonly perceived as ‘healthy’. Through this entertaining and informative journey, Damon highlights some of the issues that plague the sugar industry, and where sugar lurks on supermarket shelves.According to That Sugar Film website the experiment consists of:
“Damon only eats the perceived ‘healthy’ foods that are in fact laden with hidden sugars like low fat yoghurt, muesli bars, juices and cereals.
But we are looking to do so much more than just the film. Our aim with this website is to provide a place of learning, inspiration and action. In the months ahead, we will provide opportunities to screen the film at schools, make available a study guide we have developed that incorporates interactive activities using the film and soon to be released ‘That Sugar Book’ as tools, as well as Damon’s tips and methods to explain how he got healthy again after the sugar eating experiment. We will also be providing the opportunity to help take action in reducing the sugar content in our school’s canteens and in a very special Aboriginal community that we visit in the film.”
- Where is That Sugar Film being screened in South Africa?Labia Cape TownV&A Nouveau
- That Sugar Book availability: I am running a competition on my Facebook page otherwise available at Exclusive books and other major book stores.
- Is this a diet? No, it’s a lifestyle change. It’s about reducing your sugar intake and becoming aware that sugar lurks in the most unexpected places such as muesli bars, low fat yoghurts, juices and cereals. It’s also about showing us what a huge impact sugar has on our health, it’s a lot greater than we first anticipated.
- Why is sugar so much ‘en vogue’ to talk about? Because sugar is hidden everywhere and highly addictive. Our obesity epidemic is out of control and is set to cripple our global economy in the next 20 years. In South Africa our nation’s battle with the bulge is fast becoming a health epidemic. A survey by global healthcare company last year confirmed that at least 60% or nearly two out of every three South Africans are overweight, obese or morbidly obese.
- What happens to your body and mind on sugar? Depending on your genetic predisposition, your body might be better equipped to process sugar as energy, or you might be more likely to store it as fat.
- When your pancreas detects a rush of sugar, it releases a hormone called insulin to deal with all of that excess sugar.
Insulin helps regulate that level of sugar in our blood; the more sugar in the blood stream, the more insulin is released. Insulin helps store all of this glucose in the liver and muscles as glycogen and in fat cells (aka adipocytes stored as triglycerides).If we consume more than a few teaspoons of sugar our bodies may struggle to get that balance right which could result in TOO much insulin being released leading to a drop blood sugar which could lead to hypoglycaemia or as I remember it: a sugar crash!Our bodies respond by telling us: I NEED SUGAR NOW! We end up in a vicious cycle of craving and consuming sugar.What does sugar do to the brain?As with any food when a person consumes sugar it activates the tongue’s taste receptors. Signals are sent to the brain, lighting up reward pathways and causing a surge of feel-good hormones such as dopamine to be released. Whilst stimulating the brain’s reward system with sugar every now and then is probably harmless, over activating it may cause us to run into trouble. The cycle of addiction starts with more and more of the substance being needed to create the same response.Over-activating this reward system kickstarts a series of unfortunate events:
- loss of control,
- and increased tolerance to sugar says neuroscientist Nicole Avena.A study done in 2014 found that the brains of obese children literally light up differently when tasting sugar. Petrifying isn’t it!
- Is it possible to be sugar free- sugar is in EVERYTHING. I believe it is possible to live a lifestyle free from refined sugar, it’s about focussing on real food as close to it’s natural state as possible. Learn how to read food labels. To calculate how much sugar in a product check the label to see total sugar per 100 gram and then divide that number by four to get the number of teaspoons. For example a product contains 36 grams of sugar per 100g, that means that the product contains 6 teaspoons of sugar!
- How can I stop eating so much sugar? You can choose to either go cold turkey or slowly wean yourself off sugar. Start by cutting all refined, processed junk food and drink (this includes fruit juice and low fat products with added sugar). You can read my book Sugar Free: 8 weeks to freedom from sugar and carb addiction if you feel you may be addicted and need help quitting.