If you think the only sugar you eat is added to your coffee, think again. As popular celebrity chef Jamie Oliver says “Sugar is in everything!” And he’s right. Over 75% of supermarket packaged foods is laced with sugar and there are over 50 names for it! See the list below which give you an idea of the sugar found in our most popular foods:

It’s no wonder that our daily intake would easily surpass the 6-12 teaspoon limit set down by the World Health Organisation. According to consumption records, Europeans eat 17 teaspoons; Americans 19 and Australians 20 teaspoons per day. Typical teenagers tip the scales between 30 – 40 per day (scary indeed!) And here lies the problem: our prehistoric genes where never designed to inhale THAT much sugar each and every day. Our hunter and gatherer (and later, farmer) ancestors grazed on vegetables, nuts, seeds, animal meats, milk (and their derivatives) and fruit. As soon as we worked out how to dry the sap from sweet grass (sugar cane) almost 9,000 years ago, sugar’s sweet crystals have diffused worldwide. In 1259 it was worth (the equivalent today) $285 per kilo, yet now it’s under $2 (ironically we’re now paying more for products labelled ‘no sugar’). Today 42% of all corn in the USA is used for the manufacture of high fructose corn syrup (one of those 50 names I told you about) with Coke and Pepsi purchasing 20% of the sugar sold in the USA.

But it’s all Natural
So is nudity but we have laws about how we ‘consume’ it don’t we? Saying sugar is natural is like saying the sky is naturally blue…of course it is! Sugar comes from a plant. Duh. I once saw a food label which stated the food contained ‘natural cane sugar’…as opposed to unnatural cane sugar? These statement ooze from the brains of very clever food marketers whose job it is to convince you their sugar laden food is ‘natural’ to add credibility to the claim. It may well be, but there is nothing natural about consuming 12 teaspoons of sugar in one drink. You see, it doesn’t matter what it’s called – maple syrup, fruit juice concentrate, honey, glucose or maltodextrin – all sugar affects the body in the same way. Much of the sugar we consume is sucrose (think white table sugar) which is a combination of glucose and fructose.

Next Month: What happens in the body when we consume sugar?