For so many years consumers were misinformed by insufficient evidence suggesting fat not sugar was the cause of the growing obesity rates in the world. However the most current research indicates sugar not fat is too blame for type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol and development of certain cancers.

Lets begin with the simple facts of sugar..

Sugar is a sweet short chain soluble carbohydrate that is extracted by the crop sugarcane and sugar beet. Sugarcane has been cultivated since the ancient times in South Asia, however not until the 18th century was sugar available which eventually replaced honey to sweeten foods.

There are 2 types of sugars; monosaccharide (glucose, fructose and galactose) and disaccharides (sucrose, maltose, lactose).

Hidden sugars are found in processed foods in the form of table sugar, also known as sucrose, which add empty calories into the food with no nutritional value. Low fat or diet foods often contain extra sugar content to improve the taste, add bulk, improve palatability and add texture and bulk in replacement of the fat.

It is important when picking low fat options that you chose the product that contains the least amount of sugar. You can expect to find hidden sugars in soups, sauces, prepared meals, confectionary, junk food and soft drinks.

What physiological effects occur in the body from sugar?

• Sugar creates an acidic environment in the body, which results in magnesium and calcium being leached from the muscles and bones to buffer the acidity in the blood back to slightly alkaline. A high sugar diet leads to deficiencies in these two vital minerals.

• Produces inflammation in the body which suppresses the immune system making the body more susceptible to colds and flu’s.

• Sugar addiction can cause non-alcoholic fatty liver disease as the liver is the main storage site for excess glucose which is stored as fat

• Glucose consumption causes aging of the cells which results in memory loss and overall poor cognitive health

• Over consumption of sugar in the diet can lead to metabolic syndrome. Once sugar is digested, it is broken down to glucose which signals the production of insulin (hormone) to transport glucose to the cells to be used as energy. Over consumption of sugar causes cells to be sensitized to insulin resulting in higher levels of blood glucose.

How can you reduce sugar consumption?

Sugar can be naturally found in fruit and vegetables and artificially added into packaged products so avoiding sugar all together seems virtually impossible.

Listed below are 6 tips to reduce consumption of added sugar which triggers obesity and other health conditions.

1. Become confident in reading labels on the back of packaged foods so you aware of how much sugar that product contains.

2. Reduce all packaged and processed foods and include more fresh grown produce

3. Increase your protein intake in each meal to reduce sugar cravings and low glucose levels

4. Avoid all soft drinks and bottled juices and replace with mineral water or filtered water with fresh lemon or limes

5. Avoid snacking on sugary foods and chose low GI snacks instead such as vegetable sticks with hummus, raw nuts and seeds with yogurt or a protein shake

6. Clean out your pantry and fridge and remove any temptations or junk foods that contain high sugar levels

Following a sugar free diet is not recommended as you receive natural sugars such as fructose from vegetables and fruits. We do however recommend avoiding disaccharides, which is derived from sugar cane or sugar beet.

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Author F45 Nutrition Team