Your morning pastry, a diet soft drink with lunch, a mid-afternoon frozen yoghurt, an extra slice of cake after dinner–this should be a reasonable daily amount of sugar, right? Think again. You might not be gaining weight or getting diagnosed with a serious disease, but you could be consuming more sugar than your body needs. What’s more, you might not be aware that sweet treats and sugary drinks are not the only sources of sugar you’re eating and drinking daily.
The World Health Organisation recently recommended a decrease in sugar intake, from 10 percent to 5 percent daily. This would make about 6 teaspoons of added sugar a day. Yes, added sugar, which means the sugar you get from natural sources like fruits are not counted. Knowing how much sugar is in what food or drink can be tricky. Ultimately, you want to watch out for sugars in processed foods that you buy in supermarkets. Always read the ingredients list and make sure sugar (and its many other names) are not high up on the list. And, if you’re eating out, remember that sugar is added to dishes, such as through sauces and salad dressings.
If your sugar intake is more than needed, there are several signs you can keep an eye out for so you can begin cutting down on your sugar before it’s too late and you need to see your doctor.
Sugar should keep you energised, right? Wrong. Sugar very briefly spikes up your energy, but it can as easily and as quickly shoot it all the way down. The result is a sluggish feeling throughout the day. What you want is a constant stream of stable energy to get you through the day. Instead of a sugar energy drink or dumping sugar in your coffee, reach for protein and fibre-rich foods instead. These provide sustained energy instead of a sudden and fleeting boost.
Sugar is addictive and it’s more than just the taste. It’s also thanks to your hormones that sugary foods are always on your mind, especially when you’re feeling low or stressed out. It’s a painful cycle–you eat sugar, your body process it quickly, your body wants more, and so you give in to it.
Mood swings and poor focus
Due to the unstable energy and hormonal fluctuations you’re experiencing from your high-sugar diet, you’re also more prone to stress, mood swings and a foggy brain. Coming down from a sugar rush can leave you feeling empty and slow, which makes you more irritable. You’re also at risk for cognitive issues and impairment because of the roller coaster high and crash from the sugar.
Fluctuating hormones might be the cause of that new, seemingly mysterious constellation of pimples on your face. Too much sugar destabilises your hormones and make your acne more severe. If you’re coping with rosacea, stay off sugar, too. This is because you might be sensitive to getting a boost in insulin from all that sugar. Not all the pricey skincare products in the world can help with a high-sugar diet wreaking havoc on your complexion.
We first learned about the bad side of sugar as children when we were warned about getting cavities from chewing on too much sweets. This still holds true as adults. When we consume carbohydrates (and sugar is a carbohydrate), they produce an acid that when it combines with our saliva, can erode the teeth enamel. Brushing your teeth after each meal can prevent cavities, but it’s even better to get down to the source of it all.