Have you ever wondered why are you gaining loads of weight, even after eating healthy? The truth is that the foods which we consider healthy may be just the opposite! Most of the commonly consumed commercially available foods are hidden with sugar. Fibre biscuits, breakfast cereals, packaged juices that claim to be low fat and low sugar actually contain high amounts of Hidden Sugars. Then why is sugar bad for health?
Most of these foods contain hidden ingredients in the form of artificial colours, trans fats, preservatives and processed sugar. But added sugar is the biggest culprit. Added sugars are additional sugars that are added to foods and beverages when they are processed or prepared to increase the flavour. This does not include naturally occurring sugars like lactose or fructose present in milk and fruits respectively.
Why is Sugar bad for health
Sweet drinks, juice, energy or fizzy drinks containing added sugar have large quantities of fructose. This will play havoc with leptin, the hormone responsible for managing hunger. Your appetite will increase forcing you to eat more, leading to unwarranted weight gain.
Prolonged consumption of these kind of drinks creates visceral fat, which is the main reason for many lifestyle related diseases like obesity and diabetes.
Excessive consumption of sugar creates resistance to insulin. Controlled by the pancreas, Insulin is an important hormone that helps convert sugar to energy in the bloodstream. This may lead to uncontrolled blood sugar levels which can lead to Obesity. Obesity along with insulin resistance is the major cause for type 2 diabetes and PCOS.
Eating lots of sugar gives your brain a surge of a feel-good chemical called dopamine. Gradually the brain starts craving for more and more sugar to get that same feeling of pleasure. This is how you can get addicted to sugar.
Continuous consumption of sugar will give you a sudden burst of energy (sugar high) by raising your
blood sugar levels. When these levels drop, you may feel jittery and anxious (sugar crash). This becomes a vicious cycle, which will invoke mood swings and can also lead to depression or cognitive decline. This sugar swing is also responsible for variations in the energy levels.
Sugar may react with proteins in the bloodstream and create dangerous molecules called “AGEs”. These molecules will age your skin prematurely. They have been shown to harm and damage collagen and elastin that helps in the firmness of skin. Sugar also induces increased production of oil and androgen, which leads to acne.
Amongst all the types of sugar, the liver is responsible for the breakdown of fructose. Excess consumption of added sugar over a period of time will cause the liver to build and store excessive fat leading to a fatty liver.
Due to consumption of excess sugar, there is extra insulin in your bloodstream. This can affect your arteries which will lead to stress and damage to the functions of the heart. This might also lead to heart disease, heart attacks, and strokes.
Dental cavities, gout and risk to the kidneys are also as a result of excessive sugar consumption.
Some common foods with Hidden Sugars
Below are a few common foods with hidden sugars which are generally advertised as healthy. You can understand ways to avoid or replace them with the help of the Experts at BucketList Dreams.
The first step is self-education. Learn about the hidden sugars in common foods and either avoid them or substitute them for healthier options. Added sugars is not always sweet as it is disguised in various forms and tastes.
- Commercial sauces and soups come with loads of added sugar. Ketchup, peanut butter, jams all
have added sugar. Avoid them especially for your children. Fresh homemade soups are always better.
- Frozen yogurt is sold as low sugar and low fat, but it is equal to ice cream in terms of sugar content. They are not a source of probiotics either. Instead, choose curd cultured at home and top it with your favourite fruits and dry fruits for flavouring.
- Smoothies in fast food centres use concentrated fruit juices which are loaded with sugar and are high in calories. Check for this before you order a smoothie. Choose a fresh fruit smoothie and request for no added flavoured syrups or sugar.
- Breakfast cereals which are marketed as healthy like flavoured oatmeal, cornflakes or muesli, all have hidden sugars. Go back to your traditional breakfast foods like idli, poha, dosa, paratha, puri etc and accompaniments like chutney, sambar, daal, sabzi etc.
- Breads-Don’t be fooled by multigrain and wheat bread. Many are only ‘brown’ in colour, thanks to added caramel colouring or molasses. Surprisingly many also contain high amounts of added sugar. Make sure you read the label first.
Some more common foods with Hidden Sugars
- Regular soft drinks/sodas, energy drinks, diet drinks and sports drinks are loaded with sugar. It is best to replace them with fresh lime water or coconut water.
- Salad Dressings like mayonnaise have maltodextrin and modified food starch in the food labels. Check the food label and you would be shocked at the hidden sugar content! It is best to replace them with lime, pepper, and other herb seasonings.
- Granola/diet bars. You often think that this is the healthier choice as compared to your your favourite chocolate bar. But are they really? The hidden sugar content in these energy bars is raised with the addition of fructose, corn syrup or cane sugar.
How do you check for Hidden Sugars?
Do not get carried away by just reading the product name as ‘low fat’ or ‘diet food’. Instead, read the nutrition label and ingredient list to know the product better. A few alternate names for sugar are:
- Dextrose or crystal dextrose
- Corn syrup or high-fructose corn syrup
- Dextrin and maltodextrin
- Rice syrup
- Pear nectar
- Agave nectar
The more we try to avoid sugar the more we end up eating the disguised form of sugar in different products.
Artificial sweeteners are linked to metabolic disorders, liver problems, cancer, and ironically weight gain. Therefore, you must read food labels and choose wisely the ready to eat foods. Your body will thank you later for making these wise choices.
Ask out experts on how you can minimize your sugar intake. Learn how to include sugar in your diet in a healthy manner.