Sugar in our life

Sugar in our food:

Sugar is a major part of our diet. Almost all overweight and obese people eat too much sugar. Sugar is one of these components of our nutrition you need to monitor carefully in order to eat healthy.
Our methodology at the Personal Dietology Center Palitra Pitania works actually without sugar, meaning we advise our clients to avoid sugar wherever they can since in too many products sugar is already contained.
At the same time we understand that sugar is part of our life and nutrition and often better weight management results are achieved over the long term by reducing the sugar intake instead of trying to not eat any sugary product at all.

Which foods actually contain sugar:

You might be surprised in which foods is sugar. The more processed food is the less you know what is inside. So here a small list foods that often contain too much sugar:

  • Breakfast Cereals
  • Any type of fruit juice
  • Fruits and dried fruits
  • Many yoghurts
  • Foods made of white flour such as bread, cakes, buns often have loads of added sugar
  • So called diet or snack bars are often healthy products covered in sugar
  • Ice cream
  • Any kind of candies and cakes
  • Tomato based procuts, such as ketchup, spaghetti sauce
  • So called “sport drinks” or ice-tea
  • Honey
  • Many drinks based on Coffee

Why is there so much sugar in our foods:

It is very simple. Humans react to tastes. Basic tastes are sugar and salt. Many foods just would not taste that “well” without sugar. So the industry uses basic cheap agricultural products (e.g. wheat) and adds lots of sugar and marketing around it and people like the taste and buy such a “value added product”.
Without this much sugar added we would not eat many products.
And the ugly truth is. Sugar is cheap. So the industry combines some cheap products together and sells them nicely packaged.

Why do humans like sugar:

One issue is that tastes are trained. A simple example is tea and sugar. When you always drink your tea with sugar tea without sugar it will not taste well. But in the experience of the Personal Dietolotgy Center Palitra Pitania people who stop using sugar in tea after a short while actually like the tea without sugar and often like it much more than tea with sugar.
The same goes for young kids. Exposing them to sugar trains them to like sugar in their later life. So a chocolate or other sweets as present or as sign of appreciation result in nothing less than adults who will eat too much sugar. Especially if sugary products are presented as something special, like presents.
Is there a difference in sugars, are there good ones and bad ones?
There are different kind of sugars. Sugar is made mostly from beets and from sugar cane . But sugar is also made from corn, honey is also sugar and maple syrup is also just sugar.
All these sugars are sugars. It really does not matter if you use white or brown sugar, or replace sugar in your tea with honey. It is sugar. Some of these sugars give you some additional values and nutrients, like e.g. honey, but the basic component is still sugar. So just reduce your sugar intake and do not worry which type of sugar you consume.
And there is also stevia, a sugar made from plants. Stevia is much sweeter than sugar, some studies say up to over 100 times and contains no calories. So there are some interesting products on the market combining stevia with sugar giving you a mix which is much more sweet than average sugar. This mix therefore can cut down your calorie intake since you should in principle consume less of this sugar mix.
There is some controversial discussions around Stevia, especially if people were to consume high amounts of stevia it might prove to have some other negative effects. (see for further reading in English
So with all of this said, try to understand which foods contain sugar and how much and try to limit the sugar intake.

Is sugar a drug?

This question must be started by a definition. What is a drug. In lay-men’s terms a drug is something your body wants and aches for. This can be for psychological reasons such as you feel better when eating sugary products or neurochemical effects in your brain which make you yearn for sugar.
There is more and more evidence that sugar is behaving under certain circumstances as a drug. Simply said – someone eating too much sugar every day want every day more of it and will have feelings of withdrawal when he or she does not get enough sugar.

Sugar Stack Website

You want to know how many sugar cubes are in your food. Check out this site, in English so, and see the food product and the number of sugar cubes.
Some pictures see below.

Where to cut sugar

The easiest area to cut sugar is with drinks. Just move to water, tea and coffee. All sugar free.
The second area to cut sugar is sweets. Everything that is a sweet, based on sugar just eat less or none of it.
The third and much tougher area is then when sugars are used as ingredients in ready products. You just have to start reading labels. Russian labels are actually very good in telling you the sugar content of a product and after a while you will understand what is a lot of sugar and what is not.

Wrong marketing about sugar:

Do not fall for the simple tricks. These are bold statements on packages like:

  • Low sugar content
  • 30% less sugar
  • Low sugar yoghurt

The key is. Just ignore any marketing advise on the front of a package. Most likely it is misleading. Misleading because 30% less sugar might be still too much, low sugar yoghurt misses the point as natural yoghurt should not contain any sugar in the first place.
Also humans have a unfortunate irrational behaviour which has been proven in many studies. If they see that a product is marketed as low sugar, low fat or low calory they start to think there is some healthy aspect about it and eat more about it. So the overall intake of sugar, calories or fat is often higher than if they were to buy the standard product in the supermarket.

Sugar and Diabetes

Sugar and diabetes is a whole story in itself. Read our article about diabetes to get an impression about the links between the two

Sugar and glycaemic index

The glycaemic index is a measurement how fast a food translates into an increase in blood sugar levels. The test is done by giving test persons food and reading the blood sugar levels after 2 hours. The highest index – standarized at 100 – is achieve by giving people glucose. All foods are compared to this.
The higher the index the faster blood sugar levels rise (and afterwards drop again). This has adverse effects since it is better for blood sugar levels to rise slowly.
So there are entire diets structured around this concept because not only calories are here important but the speed of the translation of food into blood sugar. To read more about the glycaemic index read here:

Why Is Sugar Bad?

One of the most obvious reasons why sugary foods and drinks are bad and can undermine your health is that they tend to be high in calories but not all that filling. That makes it easy to over-consume them, and the excess calories can cause you to gain weight.
Another way that sugar negatively impacts nutrition and health is that it displaces other healthier foods. People often eat sweets instead of other foods that are more nutritious and, as a result, their overall nutrition suffers. Put another way, if you were to replace sweets with nutritious foods like fruits and vegetables, you’d greatly improve the nutritional quality of your diet.

How Sugar Harms Your Health

But it’s not just the empty calories that are the problem, or even the excess calories. Because even if you’re getting all the nutrients you need and are only consuming enough calories to maintain a healthy weight, eating a lot of sugar is still bad for you. Here are 5 of the top reasons why sugar is bad:
1. Sugar suppresses the immune system. When you eat a big dose of sugar, like a bottle of Coke or a candy bar, you temporarily tamp down your immune system’s ability to respond to challenges. The effect lasts for several hours, so if you eat sweets several times a day, your immune system may be perpetually operating at a distinct disadvantage.
2. Sugar promotes inflammation. Inflammation, which is part of the immune response, is not always a bad thing. But eating sugar foods can fuel excessive, inappropriate inflammation that serves no useful purpose and actually promotes aging and disease.
If you want to slow down the aging process, do what you can to naturally enhance your body’s production of human growth hormone. Avoiding foods that are high in sugar is a good way to do that.
3. Sugar suppresses the release of human growth hormone. And as such you age faster. Exercising, going longer between meals, and avoiding undue stress also help to release more human growth hormone.
4. Sugar promotes glycation. In the process sugar links up with proteins and fats. The result is a mix that accelerates your aging process, something that can not be reversed.
5. Sugar raises insulin levels. An influx of sugar into your body will have a fairly predictable result: Your blood sugar levels will zoom up. Shortly after, your pancreas will release a bunch of insulin to help clear sugar from your blood into your cells. As blood sugar levels go down, insulin levels return to normal. But when you eat a lot of sugar, you’re constantly calling for insulin, and that can backfire in a couple of ways. Over time, it takes more and more insulin to get the job done. Eventually, your pancreas may just stop responding to the call. Congratulations, you’re now an insulin-dependent diabetic. And along the way, exposing your cells and organs to chronically high insulin levels accelerates the aging process.

How Much Sugar is Safe?

A small serving of sugar or the occasional sweet treat is not going to instantly translate into a new wrinkle or trigger multiple organ failure. But what counts as high? The World Health Organization suggests that you keep your sugar intake to no more than 10% of total calories. For most people, that’s about 50 grams of sugar, or the amount in one bottle of soda. If you’re overweight or have any other risk factors for heart disease or diabetes, it might be wise to keep it to something closer to 5%.

When actually sugar can be good

There’s also one circumstance in which the negative effects of sugar are somewhat mitigated: right after a vigorous workout. Strenuous exercise creates a situation in which sugar is very efficiently metabolized—assuming that you’re not diabetic, of course. Instead of hanging around in your blood stream looking for trouble, sugar consumed after you exercise is taken up very quickly by your just-worked muscles. Plus, exercise sensitizes your cells to the effects of insulin, the exact opposite of the desensitizing effect that chronic sugar intake has.
In fact, consuming some simple sugars after a work-out, along with some protein, is a good way to enhance your recovery. In a perfect world, of course, you’d choose natural, nutrient-dense sources of sugar like fresh fruit. But, if you’re looking for a way to enjoy a little treat without feeling too guilty about it, use it as your reward after a good work-out.
So the next time you eat some sugar think again about it. Working with our nutritionists on a weekly basis you will learn how to get off a sugar addiction and slowly reduce your sugar intake. And you know what is the funniest what many clients told us. After a while they actually do not like sugary products any more and find healthy food also more tasty.