Sweet ticks

By: Fatima Ignacio Gimenez - @inquirerdotnet - Columnist/Philippine Daily Inquirer | October 10,2022 - 09:24 AM

The Philippine Statistics Authority in 2021 listed diabetes as the fourth leading cause of death behind ischemic heart disease which took first place, with cerebrovascular disease and neoplasms in second and third runner-up positions, respectively. In its preliminary report for the first half of 2022, they remain to be the key title-holders.

Do these pieces of information still come as a surprise?

First, let it be made clear that sugar is not directly the cause of diabetes. It is the overconsumption of sugar that leads to obesity coupled with physical inactivity, which serves as risk factors for having type 2 diabetes.

Before proceeding, let us put to the torch two more misconceptions about sugar to rehabilitate its reputation.

Sugar causes children to be hyperactive.

Fact: Available evidence shows no causal relationship between sugar intake and hyperactivity in children.

Fruits contain sugar and need to be totally eliminated from the diet.

Fact: Fruits, just like vegetables, contain natural sugar known to be of benefit. It is the added sugar that is a cause of concern.

Added sugars provide added calories but lack nutritional value. From the US FDA website, it is defined as “sugars that are added during the processing of foods, foods packaged as sweeteners, sugars from syrup and honey, and sugars from concentrated fruits or juices.” From simple to fancy, they can come with different names. Some may sound familiar like glucose, sucrose, fructose, dextrose, maltose, brown sugar, raw sugar, and molasses; but do trehalose and turbinado sugar ring a bell? Candies, cookies, pastries, sweetened beverages like fruit juices, coffee or tea, dairy treats like ice cream, and flavored yogurt are obvious examples of products with added sugars, but these may also be hidden in your favorite pasta sauces, packaged crackers, and even ketchup. At this point, I invite you to think about your last meal and do the math.

Realistically, as we are awash with a variety and abundance of products, both natural and processed, plus the fact that added sugar gives you that pleasurable high, going cold turkey is not an option. What is more feasible is to take baby steps toward making conscious choices. These are doable just as long as you stick to them. For starters, try doing these. First, take time to exactly know how much sugar is in your diet, and second, consider engaging in this simple activity when you make your trips to the grocery store.

Read food labels. Have you ever taken the time to do this, and if so, have you realized its importance? In brief, the nutrition label lists the serving size, calories, nutrients, and daily percent value. Serving size refers to the amount that is typically consumed, is measured either in grams or cups, and is not a recommendation of how much one should eat. Keep track of the number of servings in a container as one serving translates to an equivalent amount of calories and nutrients. The daily percent value on the other hand lets you know how much of the “nutrient contributes to your total daily diet.” Sugar has no equivalent, so it is best to pay attention to the number of grams indicated on the label.

How much exactly is allowed for added sugars? The American Heart Association recommends that for men, no more than 36 grams per day or about nine teaspoons, for women and children over 2 years of age, 25 grams or about six teaspoons. If you find this difficult and restrictive, take into careful consideration, the overall effect on your health from excess consumption and scroll up to the very first paragraph of this article. If you need to resort to changes in lifestyle, do so and do it now. Leave no room for inaction. Strive to be at your best and to always be in the pink of health.

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TAGS: added sugar, Cebu Daily News, cebu news, diabetes, fourth leading cause of death, overconsumption of sugar, Philippine Statistics Authority, Read food labels, sugar, US FDA

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