The addictive properties of sugar are well-documented, as are the risks of consuming too much. And yet, we can’t seem to stop ourselves. Sugar is often added to products surreptitiously, without our consent. It is also marketed – quite heavily – towards children. We must put a stop to this!
Our children are our future, and if they are obese, cognitively impaired, and sick – how much of a future do they really have?
So why sugar is so detrimental? The biochemistry says it all. As sugar enters the bloodstream, insulin is secreted. The more sugar you eat, the more insulin you secrete. High sugar diets can lead to insulin resistance. This condition is one of the hallmarks of obesity and overweight humans everywhere.
If you consume too much sugar, you’re bound to experience hypoglycemia, commonly referred to as your “sugar crash.” This leaves your body craving more sugar – and the addictive process perpetuates.
The number of studies on the relationship between sugar and weight gain is enormous, but unfortunately, this mass of scientific literature has not managed to produce anything like a consensus. The studies that exist are frustratingly inconclusive, and seem to contradict each other more than they agree.
An hour of searching for scientific studies will give you a huge pile of evidence that sugar is the underlying cause of every modern health problem, and an equally huge pile proving that sugar is actually harmless – in some rodent studies, a higher sugar intake even appeared to promote leanness!
Sugar is bad, really?
Why is sugar bad for you? If you do an internet search, there will such an avalanche of articles that you might just want to run away.
In a nutshell: sugar weakens the immune system, it can cause hypoglycaemia, (low blood sugar that causes weakness and loss of energy), acidity in the body (can cause arthritis and joint pain), mood swings, decline in tissue elasticity and function (yes, also “orange peel”and cellulite, ladies! ), it can, in large amounts, cause diabetes, etc…the list is long!
What’s especially bad is to eat the wrong form of sugar, and in too much quantity.
Many studies have shown that excessive sugar consumption by children can contribute to, and may even cause, attention deficit disorder (ADD), difficulty concentrating, tooth decay, obesity and strange behaviour. Sugar is quickly digested to glucose, the food of the brain, and in large amounts makes the neurons in the brain go haywire and cause children to manifest disruptive behavior.
Excess sugar weakens the immune system by creating an imbalance in the digestive tract between the good and bad microorganisms. It’s a very complex system that protects us from infection, but excess sugar undermines it from functioning properly. In fact, it assists the uncontrolled growth of bacteria and fungi, for example candida albicans and other infections.
Children, especially before going to school, should eat a sugar- free breakfast. Easier said than done – many families have the habit of eating processed cereals or jam on toast in the morning, but I strongly believe that if you are convinced yourself and if you explain to the kids why sugar is bad fro them, they will understand and listen.
What to do?
So what can parents and caregivers do to take the sugar out of their kitchens?
- Desserts and sweets. Limit portions of cookies, candies and other baked goods. Instead try fruit-based desserts.
- Cereals. Limit sugary cereals. Look for whole-grain cereals, such as oatmeal, that don’t have added sugar — or salt. Add nuts, fruit or cinnamon if you want to jazz it up.
- Yogurts. An 8-ounce serving has about 12 grams of natural sugar. This is included in the total sugar listed on the Nutrition Facts Label. Many flavored yogurts also have a significant amount of added sugar. Avoid those and instead opt for plain yogurt and add your own sweetness by blending in frozen berries or other fruits.
- Beverages. Stick to water and unflavored milk (most of the time). Limit juices, sports drinks and other flavored beverages.