A brilliant documentary which I recommend to all my weight loss clients.
Sugar is not, I repeat not, very good for you but you probably knew that.
In a new BBC documentary called The Truth About… Sugar, Fiona Phillips decided to take a look at just how harmful sugar actually is. Fiona meets scientists, sugar junkies and people from the food industry to figure out just how dangerous our favourite substance is.
‘I heard a news bulletin the other day from the government’s lead person on childhood cancer and he said if our kids continue eating junk food and fizzy drinks at the rate they are then they’re going to be the first generation to die before us,’ Fiona said. ‘I thought that was so shocking. How can manufacturers be allowed to make a can of Coke with nine teaspoons of sugar it when the daily allowance is six?!’
The problem lies, according to the documentary, not in naturally occuring sugars but instead in ‘free’ and ‘refined’ sugars. ‘You need to watch out for sugar OUT of it’s natural sources,’ Says Fiona. ‘Once removed from it’s natural sources, we’re liable to eat way more of the stuff .’
So what damage can overeating sugar do? ‘It’s packed with pure energy, but no nutrients,’ explains Fiona. ‘So, if you’re packing loads of sugar away and you’re not burning that energy off it’s leading to obesity, it’s leading to type 2 diabetes, liver diesases… Since you can’t burn it off it gets stored as fat and then if it doesn’t get stored as fat then it starts getting stored in your organs and it can be horrendous.’
WE’RE HARD-WIRED TO CRAVE ALL ENERGY GIVING FOOD BECAUSE IT KEEPS US GOING BUT SUGAR IS JUST EMPTY ENERGY; IT DOESN’T HAVE NUTRIENTS
What’s even worse is that our brains are actually hard-wired to crave sugar. ‘There’s a receptor in your brain that lights up and makes you feel good and it makes you want more sugar. We’re hard-wired to crave all energy giving food because it keeps us going but sugar is just empty energy; it doesn’t have nutrients.’
And it’s not just food to watch out for; obviously Coke and sports drinks are big offenders but other drinks you might not have considered like ginger beer (six of more teaspoons per can) and sweetened water (same per bottle). Also, seemingly healthy drinks… ‘Those Innocent smoothies!’ Says Fiona. ‘I used to think “What would keep me going through the day that’ll give me a bit of nutrition?” And then halfway though the morning I’d have a massive slump and it’s because there’s so much sugar in those smoothies! When you’re overeating sugar, your body is really struggling to get enough insulin out to deal with the sugar and that’s why your pancreas can eventually stop working.’
So what needs to happen to make people sit up and take notice? Fiona reckons it’s the food manufacturers that need to take responsibility. ‘There’s a bit of the interview I did with a woman from a food manufacturer in the programme and I sat there and grilled her for half an hour and she just played the safe thing saying: “Well, you know sugar isn’t bad for you if it’s not taken in large amounts and blah blah blah…” But they need to take responsibility!’ More supermarkets need to up their labelling game, too, ‘It takes me two hours to do a shop because I’m studying food packets and I shouldn’t have to do that. Everyone should be made to adhere to that traffic light system that Sainsbury’s and Marks & Spencer do so we all know that if we see a “red” by fat or salt or sugar you should not be buying it. But more to the point they shouldn’t be making it.’