Public Health England have set out guidelines for the food industry to reduce sugar content by 20% .
The overarching aim of the programme is to achieve the 20% reduction in the amount of sugar in each product category by 2020.
The 9 categories which will be affected by the proposed changes are:
• breakfast cereals
• morning goods like croissants
• ice creams, lollies and sorbets
• confectionery (chocolate and sweet)
• sweet spreads, which is sub-categorised into:
• chocolate spread
• peanut butter
• dessert toppings and sauces
• fruit spreads
The proposal is to reduce portion sizes as well as reformulate the recipes to reduce the sugar content. This is only good news for the populations health - but are are Public Health Englands' proposals going far enough?
Whats all the fuss about? Just brush your teeth, exercise and surely that's the dangers covered?
Sugar causes mineral deficiencies: Magnesium is required for glycolysis (the conversion of glucose into energy) at a ratio of 28:1 (28 molecules of magnesium: 1 molecule of glucose).
Magnesium deficiency symptoms include : anxiety, fatigue, anorexia, tacchycardia, muscle cramps, poor memory and apathy.
(When you consider the statistics around anxiety disorder - magnesium/sugar intake suddenly seem spectacularly relevant)
* 25% of 13-18 year olds suffer from anxiety disorder.1
We are seeing an explosion of chronic physical & mental health issues - which can be linked to sugar consumption.
“WHO statistics state that obesity numbers have doubled since 1980”
* About one-third of children and adolescents ages 6 to 19 are considered to be overweight or obese.
* More than 1 in 6 children and adolescents ages 6 to 19 are considered to be obese.
If current trends continue the number of overweight or obese infants and young children globally will increase to 70 million by 2025.
“The number of people with diabetes has risen from 108 million in 1980 to 422 million in 20141.”
While type 1 diabetes is still more prevalent among children nationwide, experts estimate that type 2 diabetes has grown from less than 5 percent in 1994 to about 20 percent of all newly diagnosed cases of the disease among youth in more recent years.
Type 2 diabetes ( caused by environment and not genes) used to be called “adult onset diabetes as it was almost unheard of in children. Now they call it Type 2 as we are now seeing it more and more in children. It is the most common form of diabetes
What to do about it?
Tips for reducing sugar intake and tackling sugar cravings
* Opt for a real food option breakfast : eggs, vegetables, fruit or yogurt (natural). This will not spike blood sugars and balance your energy levels until lunch time.
* Chromium helps balance blood sugars and reduce sugar cravings.
* Stay hydrated - dehydration can leave us feeling tired and reaching for a sweet ‘pick me up’
* Opt for natural sugar forms - fruit, honey, coconut sugar are more nutritious and as they are sweeter you’ll need less.
* Avoid processed /take away food. Make your food at home from ‘scratch’. This way you’ll know exactly whats in your food.
* Be mindful of portions: servings sizes have increased over the years - this is a major reason why we are consuming so much more sugar than we should be.
* Fat & protein will provide a slower release energy source - avoiding the spikes of a sugar hit.
What about ‘natural’ sweeteners?
Natural sweeteners are a fantastic way to wean a person off refined sugar - they can be a healthier, tasty replacement in baking without the extreme side effects like addiction.
Coconut sugar is around 74% sugar (mainly sucrose and around 2% fructose) and is relatively high in minerals like zinc and also contains inulin - a non digestible fibre which actually feeds healthy bacteria in our small intestines. This inulin slows down the metabolisation of coconut sugar and therefore it doesn't have such a big impact on our blood sugar levels as sucrose.
Honey Studies have shown that honey has a less pronounced effect onblood sugar than glucose and fructose. It also contains many beneficial antiviral and anti microbial components.
Stevia Is sourced from a leaf form Paraguay.It contains no glucose and no calories. It is the only non calorific sweetener available on the market. For this reason there is much debate around it - some argue that it causes hypoglycaemia due to its sweetness causing the body to lower its blood glucose levels in preparation for the glucose hit its expecting, but doesn't receieve. Hypoglycemia can be just as much of a problem as hyperglycaemia. There needs to be more more research done on stevia - though my personal opinion is that if something seems to good to be true, it probably is!
Xylitol - is a sugar alcohol, it doesn't contain fructose and is reported to suppress certain bacteria in the mouth, preventing cavities middle ear infections. It is however toxic to dogs, and as this sweetener is oonl found in very small amounts in its natural form, I would recommend using small amounts only.
Agave -Is made from Cactus plant. Commercial agave is extremely high in fructose and best avoided.
What about juice?
Freshly pressed juices can be a great way to get a large quantity of easily assimilated nutrients into your system. Fruit juices are high in fructose however, and need to be limited (1:4 fruit:veg ratio is ideal). Avoid commercial fruit juices as they are generally pasteurised with little nutritional value.
Buckwheat Pancakes with natural yogurt, homemade redcurrant compote
200g buckwheat flour
2 cups water or milk of your choice
mix into a batter
Redcurrants/fruit of choice: simmer in a little filtered water and a dash of maple syrup. Squeeze of lemon juice.