With the World Health Organisation recommending we eat no more than 25 grammes of added sugar a day – or around 6 teaspoons – many of us are already consuming more of the white stuff than we should.
For children, this should be no more than 19 grammes. But a recent article pointed out that many individual children’s yoghurts contain close to this amount.
Labelling can be a minefield, and with hidden sugars in fruit and carbs, as well as coffee syrups, dressings and condiments, how do we know if we’re consuming too much sugar?
Here are 6 signs to look out for:
Eating sugar causes your blood glucose levels to spike, and when they eventually come down you’ll feel tired and experience brain fog. This can lead to you seeking out more sugary or carb-based comfort foods like starchy breads, pastries and crisps to give you energy and mental clarity. The carbs then break down into sugars in your system, perpetuating the cycle!
The sugar rush of a chocolate fix can be addictive! That’s because when we consume sugar our brains release feel-good hormones like dopamine. The sugar crash we get when the effects have worn off can lead to us feeling irritable. Eating sugar also causes the release of serotonin, the neurotransmitter that stabilises our mood. But excessive overstimulation can reduce the amount of serotonin, culminating in depression. It can also lead to inflammation of the brain, which is thought to be another possible cause of depression.
Never feeling full
Sugary foods like cookies, cake and chocolate are often termed ‘empty calories’. They satisfy your craving for energy but since they don’t contain nutrients like protein and fibre they won’t fill you up. That, along with the hit of feel-good hormones you get, makes your cravings go on and on, causing you to overindulge and eventually feel worse for wear.
It’s increasingly well known that there’s a link between excessive sugar intake and obesity. Any sugar we eat is broken down by our bodies and delivered to various organs and tissues that need it for energy. Any excess is stored in the liver and muscles, but if these glycogen stores are already full, it is eventually turned into fat. This fat most often gets stored around your midsection or belly. Too much sugar in your diet can also lead to insulin resistance, the hormone which regulates where your glucose is stored. This can eventually lead to type 2 diabetes if a programme of dietary changes and exercise is not followed.
You notice more spots
Eating sugar increases your production of insulin, and if your skin is sensitive to these hormonal fluctuations, then you may find yourself more prone to acne breakouts. Ditch the sugary lattes for tap water (which is higher in tooth-strengthening fluoride than bottled) and other low-sugar options and you’ll notice a difference.
Of course, sugar is the number one enemy of your teeth! Sugar raises the acidity of your saliva and is eventually turned into plaque by the bacteria in your mouth, leading to decay. If you notice any increased sensitivity or tooth pain, then you need to book a dental check-up with our Notting Hill dentists as soon as possible.