We all know that too much added sugar is bad for your health. Studies and experts have been telling us that not paying attention to the added sugar in our daily foods like bread, canned drinks, processed foods, breakfast cereals, and fruit juices could make us sick and increase our risk of several lifestyle diseases. Many of us stop putting sugar in our tea and coffee, but we still eat biscuits, cookies, juices, and pasta sauces from the store. We don’t realize how much sugar we eat every day.
When you eat a lot of sugar, you put yourself at risk for chronic inflammation. Studies show that inflammatory markers in the blood of people go down when they eat or drink less sugar. When you eat too much sugar, you’ll start to see all the warning signs, like gaining weight, getting cavities, and having less of an immune system, among other things.
This doesn’t mean, though, that we don’t ever eat sugar. Experts say that the sugar that comes naturally in fruits, vegetables, and dairy is fine, because plant-based foods have a lot of fiber, important vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, and dairy has protein and calcium. Because of these, our bodies break down food slowly, preventing sugar spikes and long-term diseases like diabetes, heart disease, etc.
In an interview with HT Digital, nutritionist Ishti Saluja said that adults should try to get less than 10% of their total calories from added sugar. For someone who eats 2000 calories a day, this would mean eating less than 200 calories, 50 grams, or 12 teaspoons of added sugar a day.
Saluja says, “Some fruit-flavored yogurts, cereals, and ready-to-eat oatmeal have almost six teaspoons of added sugar per serving, and a 330ml can of Coke has nine teaspoons of sugar.”
There is a lot of evidence that eating more sugar makes you more likely to get heart disease, be overweight, have insulin resistance, have a fatty liver, have high blood pressure, or have an unbalanced gut microbiome. All of these can lead to health problems that are harder to fix as you get older.
Saluja says there are a few ways to cut down on sugar:
Start your day with a savory breakfast that is high in healthy fats and protein: This helps keep your hormones in balance and makes you feel fuller, so you crave sugar less during the day and don’t mindlessly snack as much.
Stop buying sauces from the store. Natural foods and spices have so much flavor. Try new things in your kitchen, cook in large batches and freeze them if you don’t have much time, but don’t buy sauces from the store if you want to avoid too many preservatives that are high in sugar and not good for your body. Remember that if a sauce you buy from the store has a long shelf life, it means it has a lot of sugar.
Create your own treats: Granola, crackers, protein bars, and muffins that aren’t made with gluten are all easy to make at home. This way, you can avoid added processed sugar and also make your snacks the way you like them.
Cut down on sugary drinks. You know that soda and bottled vanilla-flavored coffee both have added sugar. But the sugar in some drinks, like coconut water (some brands add sugar), bottled iced teas, flavored waters, and even drinks sweetened with artificial sweeteners, might not be so obvious. It’s hard to stop drinking these drinks all of a sudden, so start with other drinks. If you want a can of Coke, drink a glass of water, eat a piece of dark chocolate, drink a cup of black coffee without sugar, or do 10 jumping jacks. The key is to keep your mind off of sugar, and over time, it will become a habit to eat less sugar.
Depend on the fruit. Once you have retrained your taste buds to like less sweetness, take a moment to notice how your usual sliced banana with cereal or an apple now tastes sweeter. If you can, eat fruits as snacks between meals or add them to main dishes and salads. Whole fruit also has fiber, vitamins, and water, all of which make you feel full.
“We all like things to be easy, which is why we choose processed foods. Read the back labels to find out how much sugar is in something. Do not spend too much time reading labels to find out how much sugar is in something, but you should know what you are eating for your own awareness and health. Sugar is often called corn syrup, rice syrup, fructose, sucrose, maltose, dextrose, fruit nectars, juice concentrates, honey, agave, and molasses on labels “concludes Ishti Saluja.