Is sugar the enemy?

Sugar is the new fat. Back in the 90’s fat was the cause of all of our health problems and our expanding waist lines. Low fat diets were all the craze. Nowadays sugar is the one to blame. It’s even been labelled as toxic! That’s right just like other toxic substances such as asbestos, industrial waste, carcinogenics & arsenic. People are completely cutting all sugar from their diets. Is that a little extreme…? I’m certainly not saying that you should be eating excessive amounts of sugar, but I don’t recommend consuming excessive amounts of anything! Take water for example:

Water is essential for life. We need it to live. But consuming excessive amounts of water can actually be fatal – water toxicity can happen and it has happened before. So does that mean we should label water as toxic? No. Does it mean that we have to cut all water out of our diet? Certainly not. And the same goes for sugar – in large amounts it’s not a good thing but it doesn’t mean we have to completely cut it from our diets. So what sugars should we ditch and what ones should we keep in our diet?

When it comes to foods containing sugar I often ask people to think about what other nutritional benefits the food has to offer. Fruits contain sugar but are also very nutritious as they contain fibre, vitamins and antioxidants. Numerous studies have shown the health benefits of regularly consuming fruits. Dairy products contain sugar but are also a good source of protein, calcium, vitamins and minerals.  Soft drink however is full of sugar and not much else. Lollies are pure sugar. Cakes and sweet biscuits contain sugar and fats. Other foods that fall into the high in sugar low in nutritional value category are – sugary cereals, bars and jams.

So how much is too much you ask? Well I would love to give you all a magical number or figure of the perfect amount of sugar you should be consuming but unfortunately I can’t, there are so many factors that play a role – age, weight, physical activity levels, illness, disease, sex, energy requirements etc.

But the best advice I can give is to avoid highly processed foods with added sugars as these often have little nutritional value and are high in calories (soft drink, cakes, lollies etc.). Foods with naturally occurring sugars such as fruit and dairy products are highly nutritious and should be included as part of a well balanced diet.

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