We all know that excess sugar is bad for us, but is it really necessary to give up completely and is quitting sugar actually good for us?
The first thing to note is that sugar is a carbohydrate made up of glucose and fructose, the worst part being fructose. Glucose is an important part of our diet however fructose is not and each is metabolised very differently. While every cell in our bodies can use glucose, fructose is not essential for our bodies in any way and our liver will turn it into fat if we consume too much of it.
Products that contain added sugar (and fructose) normally contain very few nutrients and are classed as empty calories. Fizzy drinks, fruit juice, lollies, chocolate bars and pastries all belong in this category and should be avoided.
Contrary to belief, naturally occurring fructose in fruit is not bad for you and in fact fruit provides your body with vital fibre needed to keep your digestive system running smoothly and has been proven to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. A couple of servings of fruit each day isn’t going to do you any harm but if you’re particularly worried about fructose in fruit then stick to fruits that contain less of it, such as kiwifruit, berries and grapefruit. Other natural sources of sugar that are ok to eat are honey and sweet root vegetables.
Some of the side effects of consuming too much fructose in the form of added sugar are:
- Elevated blood pressure
- Fatty liver disease
- Type II diabetes
- Heart disease
- Addiction to sugar
So is quitting unnecessary added sugar (and fructose) good for you? Yes, absolutely it is. Fructose has been around in our diets for a long time however it only becomes problematic when it is consumed in excess. As a general rule 50g of fructose per day should be the maximum amount you consume. Don’t be too stressed if you consume more than this from natural sources occasionally but when added sugar becomes a regular in your diet you should take a step back and take a look at some of the side effects listed above.
Image via womenshealthmag.com
New year, new health goals…no motivation? With so many new diet books hitting the market, from juicing to paleo diet books, we review the latest diet books to help get you on track with your exercise, diet and weight loss goals.
Clean Living, by Luke Hines and Scott Gooding. RRP $29.99
Remember Luke and Scott from My Kitchen Rules? They’re back with a bootcamp in a book and their promise to improve your diet and health in just 21 days. They’ve created three weeks’ of menu plans focusing on paleo recipes, plus an accompanying exercise plan that will have anyone, even workout haters, in better shape in a few weeks.
Reboot with Joe Juice Diet, by Joe Cross. RRP $22.95
I admit it: I love juicing. It’s only a recent thing. I couldn’t stand people that went on juice cleanses, but I bought a slow juicer last year and got into making delicious juices a few times a week. Now I’m obsessed. To get started, watch Joe’s Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead, and if that doesn’t motivate you to juice a carrot, I don’t know what will! Joe is really inspiring and shares 3-day, 5-day, 10-day, 15-day and 30-day Reboot programs, which get you off sugar and junk food, and addicted to fresh juices. Packed with juicing recipes, as well as exercise and fitness tips, this is a favourite.
Your Personal Paleo Diet, by Chris Kresser. RRP $29.99
I didn’t know much about the paleo diet, but a few friends have been following the “caveman diet” for months and have never looked or felt better, so I was keen to check out this paleo diet book. The book recommends a 30-day kickstart plan where you eat lean meat, fish, non-starchy vegetables, some fruit, nuts and seeds, but avoid grains, dairy, sugar and refined foods. Chris advocates a real-life approach, so you won’t feel guilty if you indulge in a bowl of pasta here or there. There’s also tips on improving sleep, stress and fitness, so it takes a holistic approach, which I’m a fan of.
The Bottom Line Diet, by Jessica Irvine. RRP $22.99
Jessica has a really friendly approach to dieting. The book is like a good friend sharing weight loss tips, anecdotes and motivation. Why it works is because it focuses on the fundamental weight loss principle that you must consume less calories than you burn. Forget fad diets, Jessica shows you how to count calories and keep the weight off for good.
The 17 Day Diet Breakthrough Edition, by Dr Mike Moreno. RRP $52.00
Well, 17 days certainly caught my eye. If you can promise to help me lose weight (especially after all that festive overindulgence) in just 17 days, then I’m all ears. The bestselling author describes how to achieve fast weight loss – not by going on crazy celebrity diets – but by flushing sugar and toxins out of the body. He also looks at ways to boost your metabolism and enjoy portion control. If you’re serious about how to lose weight quickly, this is the book to read.
Don’t Quit Sugar, by Cassie Platt. RRP $29.99
With all the information overload, who knows what to think with sugar! Sydney-based nutritionist Cassie Platt debunks the major anti-sugar myths and offers a practical guide to integrating the right sugars into your diet. Plus there’s great recipes, with a menu plan to get you started, and tips for eating out sensibly.
Do you have a favourite diet book? Tell us in the comments!
We’ve seen a lot written about sugar in the media lately. Should you quit it completely? Are there times when it’s good for you?
The simple answer is that refined sugar is bad for your health. Too much of it can increase your blood glucose levels making you more susceptible to diseases such as diabetes, build up as fat stores in the body, and change the make-up of important cells in the body.
Naturopath and author of Digestive Solutions, Michèle Wolff, shares her simple tips on how to quit sugar for good.
1. Go for a natural substitute
Stevia is a natural sugar substitute made from the leaves of a South American shrub. It’s around 300 times sweeter than white sugar and as a non-nutritive sweetener has almost no kilojoules. Its low-carb content also means it has a negligible effect on blood sugar levels.
2. Eat fruit
If you need a sweet treat, eat fruit. Not juice, not fructose, but the whole fruit. While you’ll be consuming fructose, it will be in balance with all the other nutritional benefits of the fruit so is far better for you. Aim for two pieces of fruit daily (and five serves of vegetables!) The best fruit options, where the fructose is lower than glucose, are stone fruit, berries and citrus fruits, as well as ripe bananas, kiwi, passionfruit, pineapple and rhubarb.
3. Introduce new ingredients
Changing your ingredient list is a great way of introducing some new flavours. Try using coconut nectar in recipes for a deliciously sweet flavour without any sugar. Make a fabulously creamy chocolate mousse by combining half an avocado, a small banana and a teaspoon of organic cacao.
4. Cut down on protein and fat
Sounds strange, but a craving for sweets and white flour (another refined product) can be caused by eating a diet too high in protein or fat. Bringing more balance into your diet may help reduce sugar cravings.
If you find your sweet tooth is harder to ignore around your period, add more magnesium to your diet, such as dark leafy greens, mackerel, brown rice, buckwheat and avocados.
6. Herbs and spices
Adding herbs and spices such as cinnamon or vanilla can add a touch of sweetness, or try liquorice tea for a 3.30 pm pick-me-up.
7. Avoid processed foods
Most processed foods are full of sugar, even savoury foods! When possible, go for homemade versions – your own if possible. It’s not difficult to make a tomato relish instead of using bottled sauce, or to have a bowl of oats in the morning instead of your packaged cereal. Sugar is hidden in almost everything you can buy at the supermarket!
8. Eat consciously
Read the ingredients, cook from scratch when you can, and take every effort to actively avoid sugar in your diet. IN 1900, the average person consumed about 5kg of sugar in a year. Now, that consumption is up to 75 kg! Even cutting down a small amount, over a continuous period, will make a big difference to your overall health.
9. Stay away from the soft drinks
A senior executive from one of the biggest soft drink companies in the world recently admitted to a whopping 44 teaspoons of sugar being found in a large cinema-serve of their iconic drink. Plain water is far more refreshing and if you really need it flavoured, try adding a squeeze of lemon or lime (but rinse your mouth in plain water afterwards to avoid damaging the enamel on your teeth) or a sprig of mint.
10. Reward yourself
Set yourself small targets to reduce sugar in your diet and reward yourself when you reach your goals. Treat yourself to a new magazine or even a break from your daily work!
However you’re choosing to cut down your sugar intake, remember you’re making small changes that will have a big impact on your overall and future health. Be proud of yourself!
Michèle Wolff is a leading health practitioner and a qualified naturopath, nutritionist, herbalist and nurse, owner of Ultimate Detox Solutions www.detoxspecialist.com.au. Her book Digestive Solutions – 101 Proven Methods to Solve Your Tummy Problems Naturally is available from bookstores and good online booksellers. Visit www.digestivesolutions.com.au.
Could you give up sugar? Fess up in the comments!