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A Sugary Sin

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By Amreen Pathan

‘Everybody’s got their poison, and mine is sugar.’ (Quote attributed to Derrick Rose)

If this quote resonates with you, you are not alone.

According to the NHS, British people consume 700g of sugar a week. That is an average of 140 teaspoons per person.

The recommended limit for an adult however is between 175g – 280g (gender dependent).

I’ll let you do the math.

Whilst there are limitations with sugar-industry backed research, higher sugar intake is claimed to induce and impact:

  • Higher blood pressure
  • Inflammation
  • Weight gain
  • Type 2 Diabetes 
  • Fatty liver disease
  • Poor dental health
  • Gout
  • Draining energy and lethargy
  • Cellular aging
  • Skin aging
  • Risk of depression

Frankly, I could drone on and on about the ill effects of sugar. The fact of the matter is our fascination with fast-acting diets and our tendency to overconsume spawns us to fixate on specific food types and vilify them as evil and the root of our poor health.

No food type is inherently evil. And there is nothing that can be consumed excessively without ill effect.  Fish is a staple of a healthy diet because it is a source of omega-3 fatty acids and vitamins D and B2. Eating too much fish, however, can cause mercury poisoning. Cow’s milk is a good source of protein and calcium but too much of it can lead to digestive issues amongst other things.

The same can be said for sugar. Natural sugars found in unprocessed foods such as the fructose in berries and bananas will not induce a sugar spike that one might get after eating a doughnut. This is because these fruits also come packed with other essential nutrients like protein and fibre.

On the other hand, added sugars like the ones found in doughnuts cause a rapid increase in blood glucose. Over time, having consistently high blood glucose contributes to health problems like the ones mentioned above.

Simply, natural sugars are necessary but that also in moderation. Islam advocates moderation in all things including worship.

“And eat and drink, but exceed not all bounds. Truly, He loves not the ones who are excessive.” (7:31)

This is an approach that should be applied to all aspects of nutrition and diet. Consume all the permissible foods but in moderation. Fast but in moderation. Avoid certain foods if necessary but do not permanently exclude it on the grounds of fashionable trends in modern diets. Eat at mealtimes but keep a third of the stomach free. Have dinner but not too late at night. All of these are principles grounded in the Islamic concept of moderation.

I spoke earlier this month about addiction and forming healthier habits. Although that was in relation to our use of mobile phones, the same theory applies here. What can you do to make healthier choices in your diet to ensure sugar consumption does not exceed the recommended limit?

  1. Craving sugars? Eat sweet fruits.
  2. Exercise regularly.
  3. Stay hydrated (water, not soda!).
  4. Increase your fibre intake (legumes, whole grains, vegetables and fruits).
  5. Reduce or cut out sugar from teas and coffees.
  6. Reduce portion sizes.
  7. Enhance foods with spices instead of sugar.
  8. Compare food labels and choose products with the lowest amount of added sugar.
  9. Plan meals to avoid reaching for sugar snacks.
  10. Limit processed foods and prioritise whole foods, freshly prepared as much as possible.

Have you any tried and tested tips to reduce sugar organically from your diet? Please share below!

#sugar #diet #health

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