Sugar and YOU, to love or not to love.

When the word sugar pops out among healthies (health conscious folks) and aunties alike, the facial expression from kind and calm quickly turns into a sour rage induced version instead.

Source: Disney Gif

With the rise of diabetes, obesity and other non-communicable diseases being linked to the excessive consumption of sugar, it’s really no surprise that this ought to be the defensive mechanism we imprint into our daily lives.
But I also hear many of you out there, who love their pies, cakes and can’t really imagine a world without sweets.
And for that matter, it’s true, it’s actually not healthy for us to completely shun away sugar, so here are the deets, here’s:

5 Things you need to know about sugar and your health!

1) You need sugars for your health

When it comes to health and function, the immediate fuel source is well sugars!
AKA carbs! And all carbs eventually gets broken down into sugar, from your favourite sweet potatoes, brown rice, to that gorgeous Salted chocolate caramel tart (wipe that saliva off now).

Source: Giphy

It all breaks down into sugars.
Just because excessive sugar intake has been linked to increase risks for disease, does not mean you should eliminate all sugars, including CARBS, especially complex carbs like fruits, tuber vegetables and your whole grains!
Instead, you ought to focus more on ADDED SUGARS!

Source: Tenor GIF

These “added sugars” are normally table sugar added in to your food and beverages and are the ones mainly responsible for excessive sugar consumption and incidentally increased risk of disease.

2) Brown sugar/natural sugar is better than white sugar

This is probably the best conversation starter among aunties in a public event.
There’s this perception that brown sugar is healthier than white sugar among the masses.
Unfortunately, aside having a few points lower than each other on the glycaemic index (white sugar: 68, brown sugar: 64, apple: 38), they literally do not have any significant nutritional difference, 1g of sugar still equates to 4 calories.
After all, brown sugar is essentially white sugar + molasses + mechanical agitation (mixing), so yea….
This applies for all types of “natural sugars”, from bamboo sugar, sugar with activated charcoal, jaggeri, and the list goes on and on.

source: giphy

If you pouring it down, it’s gonna eventually lead to problems regardless!

3) While not like drugs, you can be “dependent” on sugars if not careful

Another thing, anti-suggies love to talk smack about. “It’s basically drugs and addiction”
Simply put, NO…. NO…….NOOOOOO!
While I won’t go into the neuroscience behind this, you need to understand that both sugar and drugs work your brain very differently
But there is some merit to this side of the argument.
There are similarities between the 2 in the sense that your brain rewards yourself with a surge of happiness (dopamine and other hormones) when you have sugars.
Your brain associates events with emotions, EXTENDED consumption of added sugars especially in children, can lead to a form of “happiness and reward” associated with sugar intake leading to a form of dependency when in search of those emotions.

Source: Tenor GIF

While dependency and addiction are 2 different things, it’s certainly no good for anyone, old or young to be dependent on sugars to fulfil their emotional needs.

4) Taking added sugar ALONE does not cause diabetes or weight gain

When got diabetes or when want to lose weight, what poeple say?
” NO SUGAR AT ALL!!!” Yells all the friends and families with great intentions!
But truthfully, it’s a habit we as a society need to stop doing.
The habit of either vilifying or glorifying a nutrient. Everything has its’ place and when abused in both extremes will definitely lead to bad outcomes.

Source: Tenor GIF

The same goes for sugars.
If you’re trying to lose weight, if you were a frequent sugar consumer, completely eliminating added sugar or all sugars (carbs included) may result in some weight loss indefinitely, but I fear it’s a state of weight loss that will disappear the moment you fall short and indulge.
But let’s say you don’t fall short and stay on track, would you really want to live in a world with no more sweets, candies, cakes and pies? I certainly wouldn’t…
You can have sugar (both carbs and added sugar), you just need to know how much and when it’s appropriate.

Source: Tenor GIF

5) Portion and moderation, is still King.

So, we know frequent consumption of added sugar (anything for that matter) is no good.
So how much and when should we eat it?
According to the Malaysian Nutrition Guidelines, no more than 10% of your total caloric intake per day, which translates to about this:

Population Sedentary Adults Physically Active Adults Children (2-18 years old)
Recommended added sugar intake 2 – 3 tablespoons or 6-9 teaspoons
10 teaspoons
< 2 tablespoons or
6 teaspoons

So, what’s that in real life? 1 cup of normal Teh Tarik has about 26g of added sugars, Teh O limau and Teh Tarik Ais? 30g. That’s 1 whole day’s quota gone!!

Source: Tenor GIF

So what to do?
Basically, on a day to day basis, choosing minimal added sugar options are the way to go.
For example your matcha latte with reduced sugar, Teh C kurang manis instead of Teh Tarik, Iced Latte (syrup self-added/avoided) instead of that ice-blended unicorn Frappuccino.
We’re talking about reducing a normal sugar content from 30g to possible only 5g per drink!!

Source: Tenor GIF

And I already hear some of you, what if I go kosong?
Well, more power to you, if you find that taste to be palatable and sustainable, go for it!
The recommendations say you can have 10%, but if can avoid it, go ahead, since added sugars are empty calories anyways.
As for those cakes and desserts, reserve them for those celebrations once in a blue moon, and always SHARE that slice of cake with your loved ones. After all, sharing is caring! 🙂

By the way, this “quota” refreshes everyday and you shouldn’t accumulate and “spend” it all in a single go!

In essence, do you.
If you need that sugar in your life, don’t throw it all away but know your boundaries (2-3 tablespoon/day).
If you can avoid all added sugar and you’re fine with that, go ahead (I do that most times too).
But don’t forgo your enjoyments just because you wanna be “healthy”.
Life shouldn’t just be about doing what’s required, but it should consist of those little enjoyments in moderation!

Stay healthy and love life!

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