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Sweet poison

In a bid to disguise the blandness of a diet that results from detracting the fat from all the food we love, as I mentioned in the previous blog, the manufacturers devized a way to substitute the great taste of fat, with sugar. Sugar, as the majority of you know, is a granular substance that you sprinkle over whatever food you like to make it sweeter, which plays an important role in certain cooking and baking processes. It is also a substance that the body breaks down and converts into energy. We need it to survive but you can have too much of a good thing.

Food manufacturers, again, seem to have taken fat substitution to extremes and used their wonder compound, ‘sugar’, to mask over and unnecessarily augment fat’s former domain. Nearly every food product that you can buy now has a low-fat alternative and the ones that use sugar as a flavour replacement are by far the worst. A selection of products you need to be wary of include: any form of cereal, low-fat or not, low-fat yoghurts, low-fat coffee, low-fat bread, low-fat peanut butter, low-fat salad dressing, low-fat cereal bars, low-fat cookies, low-fat sandwich spreads and low-fat muffins, to name but a few.

So what happens to all this sugar that we are now ingesting in place of naturally occurring fats? Our bodies break down sugars and then convert them into energy. In between the conversion and consignment stages of the sugar, it is stored in the liver, before dispatch. If we have ingested too much sugar and there is no room available to store it or appropriate activity to burn it, although it is not actually a fat, the liver doesn’t really care and so converts it into a fatty acid. It then sends that fatty acid into the bloodstream, where it is taken throughout the body and stored as – you guessed it – fat. If that isn’t enough, the fat then finds its way into our organs, if it’s not welcomed on the way by your belly or hips. It consequently reduces organ ability, raises blood pressure, decreases metabolism (which doesn’t help with the weight loss) and weakens the immune system. All of this because you apparently shouldn’t eat fat.

Newly released documents show that in the 1960s the sugar industry paid scientists to play down the link between sugar and heart disease, placing the blame on saturated fat, instead. It has also been strongly suggested that five decades of research into the role that sugar plays within the field of nutrition, dietary recommendation and heart disease has been not only influenced but shaped by the sugar industry. Stanton Glantz, a professor of medicine at University of San Francisco and an author of the JAMA Internal Medicine paper, says that ‘they were able to derail the discussion about sugar for decades’.

In my research I have also found accusations that Harvard professors were paid the equivalent of $50,000 USD in today’s money, by the Sugar Association, to publish a 1967 review in the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine, reportedly minimising the link between sugar and heart health and casting aspersions on the role of saturated fat.

It might interest you to hear that some of the biggest players in the sugar enveloping market hail from the States, the largest of them all being Coca Cola. The New York Times posted an article on the 8th August 2015, revealing that Coco Cola, the word’s largest producer of sugary beverages, had provided millions of dollars in funding to displacing the link between sugar and obesity and to place the blame on lack of exercise.

With many low-fat foods using sugar to displace the apparent harm of fat and with the fizzy and still (orange juice, for instance) drinks industry playing such an enormous role in leeching the poisonous effects of too much sugar into almost everybody in the western world, we (and this is a serious first world problem) are on the cusp of an epidemic of huge proportions and need to act now to prevent the premature death of millions of people.

Just to help you to visualise the amount of sugar in any particular food or drink you might be compelled to devour, look at the ingredients, find the sugar value in grams and divide it by 4. The value you reach is the number of teaspoons of sugar you will be about to imbibe. A can of coke has 35g of added sugar. You do the math(s). Admittedly, I am only talking about the amount of ‘added’ sugar, because a lot of food labels only mention the sugar as a total mass, regardless of whether or not it has actually been added or not to the natural sugar. The best way to decipher a label is to look at the amount of total sugar on it and then look on the ingredients list and see if added sugar is within the first three ingredients, as this implies this ingredient is in the product in the largest quantity.

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