Last updated May 19, 2017 at 10:40 am
I have been programmed to consume sugar throughout my life.
It starts at a young age with what’s touted as the most important meal of the day. Remember all those colourful cereals? The marketing on these cereal boxes is ingenious; the design is extremely attractive and the cereals are marketed as part of a healthy diet. However, they are loaded with sugar.
This exposure provides a breeding ground for neurological addiction. It is hard to say no to yet-another Tim Tam! How can I satisfy the urge when I have already been overexposed for a vast amount of time? It is difficult to find the willpower.
In addition to cereals, I had been led to believe that fruit juice is a healthy and vital part of the most important meal of the day. Juice is made from fruits, therefore it must be healthy, right? But in comparison to fruits, juices lack critical fibres, which help to regulate the sugar intake in our bodies. Consequently, the sugar is distributed to the body all at once and excess energy is stored as a fat tissue.
Meanwhile, I have been told my whole life that fats are the root of all evil, that I should avoid fat at all costs. There has been a war against fat for decades; from saturated to trans-fats. As a result of this war, everyday food items have been altered, and we are sold on low-fat foods. Despite being able to access everything in the shelves of your local supermarket from low-fat yoghurts to low-fat cookies, obesity around the world is on the rise.
The World Health Organization (WHO) states that worldwide obesity has more than doubled since 1980. Significantly, 41 million children under the age of five were considered overweight or obese in 2014, more than 1.9 billion adults were considered overweight, and of these, over 600 million were obese. These are simply staggering figures.
One of the reasons for this is because fat has been demonised. This has resulted in the manufacturing of these low to non-fat products which now proliferate the shelves of our supermarkets. The quest to remove the naturally occurring fat in food products has had a significant effect on taste. How has the food-producer compensated for this lack of taste? The answer is sugar.
Even products with artificial sweeteners such as aspartame are not healthy choices. Our bodies get confused when the brain sends signals that sugar is being taken in, but no sugar is actually being supplied. Even further, there has been wide debate about the carcinogenic properties of aspartame in mice (although this has been ruled safe).
How do I navigate in this ever-changing canvas of healthy diets? How do I avoid the sugars when everything is loaded with them? The easy first step is cut the usage of carbonated fizzy drinks. From there, I follow a simple rule: less processed is better.
This ever-rising rate of obesity has not only drastically increased the number of chronic ailments we are contracting; it has also become a leading cause for cardiovascular disease. It has been proposed that sugars lead to inflammation in our cardiovascular system. Thus, when there is an excess of sugar intake, our immune system is unable to fight inflammations fast enough.
It is not all negative though, countries, cities, institutions, and more importantly people are waking up to the negative effects of excess sugar consumption.
- Read more about the UCSF attempt to ban sweetened beverages, France baning unlimited sugary drink refills, and New York City attempting to ban oversized soft drinks.