Eating healthy from an early age can be a very arduous task, especially because of the abundance of sweets and snacks that simply lure off the shelves of a market. Bad habits from childhood are often very easily transmitted to adulthood, but also if you accept healthy habits and apply them in your daily diet, you will certainly be healthier later and you will not have problems with excess weight. If you were asked if you like broccoli, many of you probably wouldn’t even know what broccoli is, while if you were asked if you like chocolate, almost everyone would probably say YES. However, we will try to explain to you what sugars really are, where they are and why they have a bad reputation, in the continuation of this text.
Sugars are simple carbohydrates (quickly digested in the body) that are a source of energy in food. They are found in natural form in fruits and dairy products, but they are added to many foods to improve their taste. Sugars and other sweeteners give a better taste to the products you buy every day, but almost all of them come with very little or no quality nutrients, so often their only task is to make your food tempting and to make you fat afterwards. Natural sources of sugar that come from fruits contain more quality calories, because fruits contain vitamins and minerals that our body needs to perform normal daily functions and to protect us from many viruses and bacteria.
All forms of concentrated sugar are bad for our health and can be found in: white sugar, yellow sugar, sweeteners, honey, syrups, etc. because they affect the rapid jump in blood sugar levels. If you eat chocolate in the evening when you are resting or when you are not engaged in your physical activity, the excess sugar from your body, first switch to glycogen (a source of energy that is stored in the muscles and liver). This source is very limited (about 100g in the liver and about 200g in the muscles). If you enter more than this number, the excess sugar will be stored in fat. Of course, since you are an athlete, you can also have higher glycogen reserves, which means that you can take in more sugar without it being converted immediately into fat. Unfortunately for all of us, the space for storing fat in the body is much larger than glycogen, there are billions of fat cells in our body, and each of them can increase up to 400 times its size to make extra space for storing new fats. Therefore, you can conclude that maintaining a normal blood sugar level is the most important factor in maintaining a normal body weight and thus the energy levels of each person.
Did you know that an average American eats between 0.9 and 1.5 kg of sugar a week, while in Serbia that average is very close. Sugar consumption has increased about 50 times in the last 150 years, and thus numerous cardiovascular diseases and diseases that shorten our lives and have the greatest impact on general health.
The effect of sugar on our body
Excessive intake of sugar in the body can deceive your brain and send signals to it that you are not full enough. Then comes the release of hunger hormones no matter what you ate recently. When you stimulate this natural process too much, the cells become resistant to the action of insulin and ask for higher doses of sugar in order to cause a reaction. In that case, you eat another piece of chocolate, then the glucose level increases, which leads to a number of symptoms, including fatigue and depression, but also potentially more serious diseases. Apart from a sudden burst of energy, concentrated sugar does not bring anything good. It does not contain vitamins, minerals, proteins or fiber, more precisely, it has no nutritional values at all. Its influence on our body and mind is nothing but pure illusion.
- Sugar can damage your immune system and worsen resistance to various external influences and diseases;
- Sugar (actually insulin produced due to high sugar) feeds cancer cells and is closely associated with the development of cancer of the breast, ovary, prostate, pancreas, lungs and gallbladder;
- Sugar can cause atherosclerosis and cardiovascular disease;
- Sugar can cause headaches, including migraines;
- Sugar can cause depression;
- Sugar can increase the risk of Alzheimer’s disease;
Sugar in everyday foods
Usually when we talk about sugars we mean cakes, chocolate, candies, donuts and similar snacks that we like to enjoy. However, sugar is also found in many foods that do not seem suspicious to us at all when we take them in, but that is why the kilograms in our body become bigger every day, even when we give up all the above-mentioned sweets. The inevitable consequence is that manufacturers, in order to improve the taste and texture, add other ingredients to the food they make, and one of them is usually sugar.
Here are most foods you probably didn’t know contain hidden sugars:
Since we all mostly know the composition of mayonnaise, we switch to ketchup as a supposedly healthier variant, but we don’t know that it is full of sugar but also salt;
Flavored water sounds quite safe and low in calories, but it also contains sugars like many other juices. A better solution if you want to give your water a taste, add a squeezed lemon, grapefruit or orange;
All juices that we buy, regardless of whether they are made of fruit or carbonated substances, must contain sugars, so if you have to, you should take them in moderation;
Pay attention to the composition of the muesli you eat, because it can contain significant amounts of small chocolate, honey or sugar to improve the taste.
Canned vegetables are probably a product that no one would suspect contains sugars, but unfortunately that is true. Since each product should contain a list of ingredients, you can easily check if your vegetables will become your dessert;
If you like salad dressings, you have probably already bought some, but keep in mind that these products are also full of sugar and salt, so we advise you to top your salad with a combination of your sauces of yogurt, vegetable spices, apple cider vinegar, lemon, etc .;
Fruit yogurts also contain a certain amount of sugar, look for one that weighs less than 10g per serving;
Sugar is also found in bread, and not only in white. Whole grain bread contains about 2 grams of sugar in one slice;
Sugar is also found in salty snacks, such as chips, roasted peanuts or crackers. Be sure to look at the composition of the product when buying snacks or choose natural snacks such as fresh fruits and vegetables, baked nuts and seeds.
What is the daily allowable sugar intake
Telling someone to stop consuming sugar is a difficult and often impossible task. Usually such a request is made to fail. You may be surprised, but the recommended daily dose for women should not exceed 6 teaspoons (100 calories), for men up to 9 (150 calories), and for children between 4 and 8 years, a maximum of 3 teaspoons is allowed. Remember, the body copes well with natural sugars from fruits, vegetables and dairy products, and it does not need additional refined sugar. However, since it is almost impossible to completely avoid artificial and added sugars in the foods we buy, we should enjoy more natural, unprocessed foods – fresh seasonal fruits and vegetables and natural juices that we make ourselves. Our advice is to listen to mom and dad when they tell you that you have overdosed on sweets and to try to correct yourself now that you know all the information about sugars. Of course, you can treat yourself and eat a piece of cake that mom makes or eat chocolate that dad bought, but don’t practice it every day.