Is sugar the new tobacco?
You may have heard this question in the media, alongside sitting is the new smoking and blue is this season’s black.
The links between sugar and tobacco (which is not the case with the other examples) is that yes, these two are highly addictive and health-damaging substances. However the extent to which they are socially perceived and their effects on people around us is very different. Smokers now have to take their habit outside where they won’t bother anyone else, whereas our celebrations and ‘pleasures’ are socially accepted, sugar-filled events and we even stuff it down our children!
A study by UK/US organisation Action on Sugar says that voluntary action no longer enough – high sugar intake, including often hidden sugars, are causing huge deterioration in people’s health with massive rise in diabetes 2 and obesity.
Even if you put yourself into the category of not eating added sugar (in drinks or desserts or on cereals), what we don’t often realise is that sugar is hidden in so many things… the study revealed that even in a 0% fat yoghurt, there were 5 teaspoons of sugar… soups, sauces, and so called ‘vitamin water’ are not exempt either.
In my opinion this study is long overdue and great that it has hit the headlines! Risks of tobacco and alcohol have been known for a long time but there has been far too much hushing up over sugar.
We need to build awareness and understanding in order to change behaviour, so plenty of coverage and debate is needed.
Why do I choose to avoid sugar and not give it to my kids?
- Sugar depresses immunity. Studies have shown that even just a teaspoon of refined sugar can suppress the body’s immune responses for several hours.
- Sugar Blues. Some children and adults are sugar-sensitive, meaning their behavior, attention span, mood and learning ability deteriorate in proportion to the amount of sugar they consume.
- Adrenal fatigue. The highs and lows that sugar produces in the body has a heavy effect on our adrenal glands the triangle-shaped endocrine glands that sit on top of the kidneys. They are chiefly responsible for regulating the stress response through the synthesis of hormones including cortisol and adrenaline. When they are over stimulated the result in the body is exhaustion and even burnout.
- It’s highly addictive – eating sugar makes you want more and coming off it causes mood swings and headaches…. I don’t give my kids alcohol or caffeine so no sugar either.
- It’s not necessary – there are plenty of other ways to sweeten food – with fruit, dried fruit, good quality honey, maple syrup and coconut sugar. These are much better options than using white or brown sugar due to their higher vitamin and mineral content and lower impact on our glycemic index.
The best simple advice is to read the labels … if there is sugar on the label – avoid it and go for a simpler, sugar-free option.
For more info or help in coming off sugar, get in touch!