The perilous impact of sugar on our health is often overlooked despite our awareness of its dangers. We frequently justify its inclusion in our daily diet by seeking a sweet indulgence, considering it indispensable in beverages, confectionery, and even fresh juices.
It’s critical to recognize that sugar isn’t solely responsible for diabetes; its implications stretch far beyond, contributing to life-threatening conditions, including cancer. While various research endeavors underscore the need to limit sweet intake due to its adverse health effects, determining the ideal consumption and age threshold for its safe use remains a recurrent query.
Harming Health Effects of Sugar
An enlightening article published in the Arabic magazine “Al-Jarjak” sheds light on these concerns. Recent research draws attention to the myriad health issues associated with excessive sugar consumption, ranging from diabetes to obesity, heart disease, and even certain cancers.
Experts, after rigorous analysis over 73 years, have linked high sugar consumption to a spectrum of ailments, including hormonal and metabolic disorders, alongside heart disease, asthma, depression, and more.
Findings from these studies underscore the gravity of excessive sugar intake: an increase in sugary drink consumption correlates to a 4% heightened risk of joint infection. Shockingly, the average adult consumes a staggering 77 grams of sugar daily, while each 250 ml/day rise in sugary drink intake spikes the risk of heart disease by 17%. Moreover, a daily intake of 25 grams of fructose amplifies the risk of pancreatic cancer by 22%.
Consuming adequate amounts of sugar
While moderation in sweet consumption is often perceived as benign, recent research unveils a startling truth: the majority of adults surpass healthy sweet limits, primarily through sugary drinks like fruit juices, soft drinks, and energy beverages. Recommendations suggest a daily intake of no more than six teaspoons, equivalent to 25 grams or 100 calories of added sugar, excluding the natural sugars present in fruits and dairy products.
The ubiquity of both hidden and added sugars in various foods poses a challenge, infiltrating items like sweets, pastries, fast food, and even seemingly unlikely sources like macaroni, spices, or yogurt. Children, especially, are susceptible to excess sweet intake due to their proclivity for sweets, necessitating a gradual reduction in their sugar consumption, as advised by experts.
American dietician Melissa Maitri stresses the need to establish a healthy relationship with food, advocating for a preference for naturally sweet foods, like fruits, over sugary treats. Early habits regarding sugar consumption in children significantly impact their future dietary choices. Encouraging children from the outset to limit sweet intake sets a precedent for healthier eating habits.
Hidden and added sugars
It is clear that sugar is used in the preparation of sweets, biscuits, cakes, fast food, ice cream, etc., whereas sugar is used in macaroni, spices, peanut butter, yoghurt, coffee, fruit chaat, etc. The proportions are hidden, meaning they are not made directly from sugar.
Experts recommend reducing excess sweet intake, especially for children, as children often crave sweets and consume more sugar.
“It is important for families to develop a healthy relationship with food, while it is better for children to limit sugar intake,” says American dietician Melissa Maitri.
Maitri further said that ‘naturally sweet food, i.e., fruits, etc., should be preferred, and efforts should be made to limit the consumption of sugary foods instead of encouraging them.’
If the habit is inculcated in the children in the beginning, it is maintained later on. So try to teach your children not to consume too much sugar from the beginning.
The correct way to use sugar
Dietician Mitri has outlined some steps that can be followed to reduce sugar consumption, step by step.
Gradually replace drinks that are high in sugar with drinks that have little or no added sugar.
Get into the habit of home-cooked meals because you are unaware of the sugar content ratio in outside foods, so try to prepare as much at home as possible.
Encourage yourself and your family to eat healthy foods. A number of books and informative articles can also be used in this regard.
Maitri outlines a step-by-step approach to curb sugar intake, advocating for the substitution of high-sugar drinks with those low in added sugars, a focus on home-cooked meals to control sugar content, and an emphasis on nutritious food choices. Books and informative articles can aid in this endeavor, guiding individuals and families towards a healthier lifestyle with reduced sugar consumption.