The health and fitness industries have seen many a trend over the decades from fat-free diets in the early 90s to people avoiding carbs like it’s the plague, and the omnipresent gluten-free craze that seems to have taken over the millennial lifestyle. Now, sugar is in the spotlight and everyone is panicking — but why is sugar really bad for you?
Heads up, if you’re a crackhead for saccharine stuff!
Oh, Sweet Mercy.
In each and every instance, sugar is the enemy, and we’re talking about added sugars here. They are vastly different from the natural sugars found in fruit and vegetables.
When consumed in its natural state, sugar comes alongside several other nutrients such as dietary fiber, vitamin c, and potassium. It’s when they are removed from their original source or and added to other foods artificially or by processing, that you’re in trouble. In fact, a cup of freshly juiced fruit stripped off its fibre is basically a cup of sugary flavoured water.
But before we get into the sticky details, it will be wise to know that sugar has more than 50 nicknames (just like your frenemies) such as sucrose, high-fructose corn syrup and rice syrup that the manufacturing industry has cleverly used over the last few decades in order to distract unsuspecting consumers the world over.
Sugar Is Empty Calories
Artificial or added sugars are stripped off their nutritional value. We’re talking about important vitamins and minerals that keep you alive and well which are taken away from plants in order to create a menacing drug akin to cocaine that is also… wait for it… high in calories.
If you’re wondering how sugar is made, well, it is an arduous process (and a clear sign that it is not natural and you shouldn’t be consuming it). Processed sugar is extracted from sugar cane, where the juice is crystallized and filtered through carbon and voilà — you get white crystals that are either sold to you or added to every food product imaginable.
Sugar provides NO nutritional benefit except for giving you an energy spike, aka sugar rush, as it is easily absorbed by the body and into your bloodstream. Soon enough, you’ll need another hit of sugar to keep you going. Sound familiar?
The War Against Diabetes
Ever since PM Lee talked about diabetes in his National Day Rally speech yesteryear, the government has waged a war on the crippling disease that is type 2 diabetes.
Studies have shown that sugary drinks can increase your chances of getting type 2 diabetes by 26%, and to make things grimmer, 1 in 9 Singaporeans are already affected by diabetes.
Even beverage companies such as Coca-Cola and Pokka have pledged to lower the sugar content in their products and this is one, if not the food trend you should be jumping on.
Sugar Makes You Fat
Earlier we mentioned that sugar gives you energy. In fact, almost everything you eat gives you energy, and if you do not burn off the excess energy you acquire—you should know where we’re going with this—you’ll end up packing on the pounds.
When there is an overload of sugar in your body, your liver works harder to convert it to fat and that will lead to a chain of other reactions that can cause obesity, liver problems and an illogical addiction to the white devil. Additionally, your insulin level will skyrocket, working overdrive to burn off the sugar instead of your stubborn belly fat.
Sure, cutting your fat intake is a good way to stay trim. Before you go crazy on fat-free foods, be sure to check their nutritional content as they tend to be laced with sugar. This is what manufacturers do to make up for the lack of flavour. That’s right. Fat-free products contain sugar, the excess of which your liver turns into fat. The horror.
Check out this video on the low-fat sugar conspiracy.
For those who have a sweet tooth, this might seem like a diatribe against sugar but it is what it is. Ultimately, your sugar intake should not be more than 10% of dietary energy which means to say that you should only consume about 40-55g of sugar daily.
Just remember that sugar is like your ex — filled with sweet nothings. So think twice before you reach for that cup of low-fat milk or that extra slice of cake.