Do you have a sweet tooth? Then you may want to know who slashed your sugar intake. WHO did it - the World Health Organization, that is.
Recent studies about sugar and its connection to obesity have prompted the organization to lower its recommended level of daily sugar intake. According to the WHO, sugar should form just 5% of the total energy that we get from our diets. This is a big change as it is halving its earlier recommendation of sugar from 10% of total energy to 5% .
Now for all of you sugar hungry readers out there, this can be a major problem. Did you know that the average teen consumes 74.2 grams of sugar everyday? That is the same as 18.5 teaspoons, against the recommended 6 and 8 teaspoons per day!
What Is Sugar?
The white crystals we commonly know of as sugar, is sucrose. Sucrose is a carbohydrate and is naturally found in many plants, but mainly in sugarcane and sugar beets. Sucrose is a complex mix of fructose and glucose - two simpler sugars. Besides glucose and fructose, lactose, maltose, High Fructose Corn Syrup and natural sweeteners like honey are some other types of sugars.
Why Is Sugar Important?
When we eat food, the simple sugar - glucose, gets absorbed into the bloodstream and gets distributed to all the cells in the body. Glucose is very important for our body as it provides the energy needed to perform specialized processes such as digestion and cellular respiration. It is also important for the brain because it is a major source of energy. Cells however need a constant supply of sugar from the bloodstream as they cannot store sugar.
But Then, How Can “Sweet” Be Bad?
Well, as the saying goes, everything in moderation. When we consume sugar, it sends signals to receptors in the brain, which activates a “reward system”. The main chemical produced from this reward system is called dopamine. Dopamine receptors in the brain receive the signals and trigger a “sugar high”.
Sugar rush causes insulin (a hormone that regulates the amount of glucose in the blood) to increase. Insulin tries to bring glucose levels back to normal. But sudden spikes in insulin tends to cause insulin resistance and causes a craving for more sugar. Do you see the cycle? Excess sugars get converted into glycogen or fat for storage.
Most people tend to trust sugary foods because sugar gives a feeling of comfort. Sugar also makes people believe that the food is not poisonous because human senses have evolved to recognize poisonous foods as bitter. Since sugar is addictive, people keep coming back for more. The problem is that refined sugar hides pretty much everywhere in food these days. Recent trends suggest that obesity rates among children are skyrocketing.
The WHO recommendations are a wakeup call to all of us. How much sugar do you typically consume? Watch this video to find out who among us is going to have a tough time beating the sugar habit.