Sugar, we can’t live without it, literally. Sugar is a key part of our diets, we need it and we love to consume it. There are variations of sugar, some are good others bad.
Good sugar is something found naturally in food and bad sugar is when it’s been added.
But before we get into that, let’s look at what exactly sugar is.
According to NHS Choices, sugar is “found naturally in most foods. Their main nutritional value is in providing energy.”
This may seem obvious. Energy drinks are filled with sugar to give you a temporary boost, but much like when you eat a brownie or slice of cake the crash after hits hard.
BBC iWonder found that “when we consume free sugars, they are quickly absorbed into our bloodstream and we experience pleasure and an energy boost. Our blood sugar levels spike and then drop.” This is what leads to us craving sugar as we want that high again.
They also found that the global consumption of added sugar (bad sugar) has gone up by 46% per person per day in the past 30 years.
How much sugar should we be eating a day then? NHS choices recommend 30g of sugar a day for everyone older than 11.
This may seem like a lot, but something as simple as an apple contains approximately 19g of sugar. I asked leading Harley Street nutritionist, Rhiannon Lambert, why some foods seem healthy but have high levels of sugar.
“Fruit contains lots of water, as well as essential vitamins and minerals which sugar in a cake may not. Fruit also contains beneficial fibres which are good for your gut health and keep you fuller for longer.” She added “this doesn’t mean you should fear the likes of fruit and vegetables”
Michaela Pontiki created Arapina Bakery serving healthy food with little sugar. She’s written about reducing our sugar intake in the 21st-century so I asked her why we crave sugar and can’t seem live without it.
“The answer is yes, we can live without it and actually we can live better. Somewhere in the process of our evolving as human-beings we got programmed to look out for sugar and crave for it when we don’t have it. This certainly serves the industry’s purpose & profit but it definitely does not benefit our health. And although going against the norm and looking out to avoid sugar can be time-consuming it certainly adds value to your everyday life.”
She added that “A simple rule to follow: Think of your grandma opening her kitchen cupboard. She smiles at you and you take a look at the goodies inside. What do you see? Certainly not chocolate bars, processed cereals or cookies in colourful packaging.”
Sugars used to be consumed purely through fruit and vegetables but with so many foods now being processed and having large quantities of sugar added, it can be hard to know what’s healthy anymore.
A key guide to follow is swapping your processed sugar treat for unprocessed like an apple or handful of strawberries.