4 Bittersweet Resources on Sugar

Happy Monday!  The Muster is a weekly round-up of interesting health related news, discussion and products.  The theme for this week’s Muster is the sweet stuff.  The nectar of life.  The good sugasuga.

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The WHO released their Guideline: Sugars Intake for Adults & Children.  A quick summary from The Lancet is a worthwhile read.  No sugar lobby bodies financed the guidelines, which is a step in the right direction.  Industry players were permitted to participate in public consultations.  The WHO uses the term free sugars which refers to added or processed sugars. 

Recommendations

  1. WHO recommends a reduced intake of free sugars throughout the lifecourse (strong recommendation).
  2. In both adults and children, WHO recommends reducing the intake of free sugars to less than 10% of total energy intake (strong recommendation).
  3. WHO suggests a further reduction of the intake of free sugars to below 5% of total energy intake (conditional recommendation).

The evidence showed, predictably, that a high intake of free sugar leads to weight gain and to dental cavities, particularly in children.  The evidence also showed that decreasing free sugar intake leads to weight loss.  This will surprise few of us, but now it’s on the books.

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This is a really cool documentary on everyone’s favourite macronutrient: Carb-Loaded – A Culture Dying to Eat.  About the filmmaker, Lathe Poland:

Lathe Poland, learned after he was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. He sought to find out why he got sick, because he didn’t fit the classic picture of an adult-onset diabetes sufferer. He quickly learned that much of what he knew about healthy eating was based on myths or fifty-year old science. In the film, he searches out why America’s modern food culture is killing us. There is an upside, and a lot that can be done!

You can rent or buy the documentary in a lot of places online.

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I love sugar.  I love chocolate chip cookies, hot chocolate, ice cream and candy.  And I put a lot of effort into feeding my body appropriately so my cravings for the sugary foods are reduced and manageable.  Usually sugar cravings are really about being thirsty, being tired, being bored, being sad or being anxious.  So, when I am craving sugar I try to address all of those things first.  Then I have some Moroccan Mint Tea (I love this one from Numi). If that doesn’t work, I usually just eat something sweet that I really, really want.  Usually, because I’ve sorted myself out otherwise, I can have one serving of something awesome and get on with my day.

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Natural sweeteners can be confusing.  Here is an awesome conversion chart courtesy of the Institute for Integrative Nutrition on how to get rid of the white sugar.  Now, most of these sweeteners are also free sugars, as described by the WHO above.  They have an enhanced nutritional profile and a lower glycemic index than white sugar.  They’re better for you but you still need to moderate any sweet thing you add to the food you make.  The big exception is stevia, which is very sweet but has no sugar.