Ok so apparently sugar is bad for you? Really? With all that has been written and talked about in regards to the effects that sugar has on the body of late it’s kind of surprising to me that people and more shockingly some “Health Professionals” still question it and say that its all a fad.
Recently the World Health Organization (WHO) has incorporated guidelines for sugar intake in adults and children. The guidelines suggest that a reduction of free sugar intake to no more than 10% of our total energy intake is recommended. WHO have also noted that by further reducing sugar intake to below 5% on a daily basis additional health benefits are provided. Free sugar is any sugar that is added to food products. Therefore, the natural sugar found in an apple for example is exempt however sugar that is added to apple juice is not and considered free sugar. Thus to clarify things and make it easier to understand basically 5% equals approximately 6 teaspoons or 25 grams of sugar daily.
I was first introduced to the damaging effect that sugar has on the body in 2001 when I read a book called “The Wrinkle Cure” by Nicholas Perricone M.D. (American Dermatologist) whom I consider the first “No Sugar” advocate. He has been writing, researching and talking about eliminating sugar from our diets due it’s impact on skin health and appearance for close to 15 years. Here’s the thing about sugar molecules, they attach themselves to fibroblasts (a cell in connective tissue which produces Collagen, Elastin & other fibres). When sugar attaches to these proteins (which give our skin, suppleness, plumpness and structure) it causes something called Cross-Linking which leads to the formation of wrinkles and hence ageing. Sugar is also a major cause of systemic inflammation within skin hence leading to breakouts and skin irritation.
Over the past few years Health Bloggers such as Sarah Wilson (IQS) and author David Gillespie whom wrote Sweet Poison: Why Sugar Makes us Fat have bought the no sugar discussion to the forefront. And now there’s a film. Last week a friend (no sugar devotee herself) and I went along to see “THAT SUGAR FILM”. If you haven’t seen it I highly recommend that you do. The documentary follows Damon Gameau as he embarks on an experiment to document the effects of a high sugar diet on a healthy body. Damon does this by consuming only food that is considered “healthy” and extensively eaten by people on a daily basis such as breakfast cereal, fruit juice, low fat yoghurt, muesli bars and drinks such as Up & Go. These foods all laden with hidden sugars. Damon’s diet did not include drinking soft drinks, consuming lollies, ice cream or chocolate. Over the course of his 60 day experiment we watch Damon as he eats his way through 40 teaspoons of sugar daily transforming his healthy vibrant body into that of an overweight male whom develops border line fatty liver (with the pathology reports to support it). Damon looses the sparkle/vibrancy in his eyes, his clarity of thought and concentration decreases as does his mood .
The documentary really outlined the over-consumption of discretionary foods and the ease of purchasing such foods in the Western food supply. It also sadly outlines the conspiracies surrounding the sale and recommended daily sugar consumption levels funded by food companies (Soda Companies) telling us that sugar is ok and has no negative affect on the body.
The film really sets out to make viewers think about where their daily sugar intake is coming from. As Damon shows in the documentary its hard to consume 4 apples in one sitting as the fibre within the apple would tell you that you are full after 1 to 2 apples. However if you juice 4 apples its another story as the juice is basically water, sugar and some vitamins and not very filling.
One of the most profound statistics of the film was that if we removed all the items which contain sugar from supermarket selves only 20% would remain!!!! That would mean lots of empty selves!!
So what can we all take away from watching That Sugar Film? Well basically to be more mindful of what you are eating. Really thinking about how that food is nourishing and supporting your body both physically and mentally.
I love this quote from U.S Endocrinologist Dr Robert Lusting “There is not one biological reaction in your body not one that requires dietary fructose, not one that requires sugar. Dietary sugar is completely irrelevant to live. People say oh you need sugar to live “Garbage”.
Sugar may be considered delicious but it’s certainly not nutritious!!!!