Good nutrition is essential for good health. Eating the right combination of fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and healthy fats will help you stay active and avoid chronic illnesses like heart disease.
Unfortunately, it is increasingly difficult to eat well because so many foods are now loaded with sugar. Most of the products on supermarket shelves will have either natural sugars or artificially introduced sugars to improve flavour.
Understanding how much sugar you can eat each day will help you avoid health problems and lead to a healthier lifestyle. In this post, our Ealing chiropractor shares some information about the dangers of sugar and how much sugar you can safely eat each day.
How Excess Sugar Can Impact Your Health
When you eat large amounts of sugar, the body responds by producing a large amount of insulin. Insulin’s job is to regulate the amount of glucose in the bloodstream. Unfortunately, regular overconsumption of sugar can lead to insulin resistance — where cells don’t react to the presence of insulin. This can cause Type 2 Diabetes, which is a highly dangerous condition with severe side effects.
It is not uncommon that some of the patients visiting our chiropractors in Ealing have back pain that is linked to obesity. Although chiropractic treatments can be used to alleviate their pain, addressing the lifestyle factors that have caused their weight gain (like excessive sugar consumption) is also important.
Heart disease is a common condition in the UK that is responsible for tens of thousands of deaths each year. Excessive sugar consumption has been clearly linked to heart disease.
Excessive consumption of sugar has also been linked to tooth decay. If you value your smile, you will need to be careful about the number of sugary foods and drinks you consume each day.
Which Foods Are Very High In Sugar
Sugar is a valuable source of energy which helps us remain active throughout a busy day. However, some foods have so much sugar that they can quickly impact your health in a negative way. Some of the foods to be careful with include:
- Cakes and puddings
Most cakes are loaded with sugar, so be careful about the size of the pieces you are consuming.
Living in the UK, chances are you enjoy a few biscuits with your cup of tea. It is estimated that the sugar in biscuits makes up about 3% of sugar intake in UK adults.
- Soft drinks
Soft drinks are still one of the leading causes of excessive sugar consumption in the UK. Drinks like Coca Cola offer zero nutritional benefits and can dramatically increase your daily sugar intake.
- Chocolate, lollies, and ice cream
These treats are loaded with sugar, so reserve them for special occasions.
Although yoghurts are healthier now than they were in past decades, they can still contain a lot of sugar.
- Breakfast Cereal
Modern breakfast cereals are often loaded with sugar.
- Processed fruit juices
Fruit juice has been marketed as a health product for many years. Unfortunately, many of the heavily processed juices in the supermarket are loaded with sugar.
How Much Sugar Can You Eat?
So, how much sugar can you safely eat? Well, the current NHS guidelines recommend that adults should consume no more than seven teaspoons or cubes a day, which is about 30 grams of sugar. A single teaspoon is about 4 grams of sugar, to give you an idea of how sugar in your cup of tea will contribute.
The NHS also recommends that:
- Children aged 7 to 10 should have no more than 24g of free sugars a day (6 sugar cubes).
- Children aged 4 to 6 should have no more than 19g of free sugars a day (5 sugar cubes).
- Children under 4 shouldn’t have any sugar-sweetened drinks or foods with added sugar
Given that a Mars Bar will have 26 grams of sugar and a slice of chocolate cake is 23 grams, it’s easy to see how quickly you can go over the recommended daily star intake if you eat sugary foods.
However, you should also consider your lifestyle. If you are a busy mother working all day and looking after the kids all evening, you may burn more energy. This means you may be able to eat 35 or 40 grams of sugar without any significant detrimental impact to your health. The additional sugar you consume will be used as fuel to help you get you through your busy day.
The same goes for athletes and people who work in jobs where they are constantly on the move. Because their bodies will be burning more calories, having a higher sugar intake may be acceptable.
The key to reducing sugar intake is to firstly become more aware of the amount of sugar you are consuming each day and then find ways to reduce your daily intake.
The NHS LiveWell website offers great tips and advice on reducing sugar intake here.