Gym bunny or not, we all know that sugar, salt, and additives are not healthy for us, but in this day and age, they are everywhere. They are in most foods, and although these ingredients often keep prices low, they are increasing the risk of heart disease, obesity, rotten teeth, and affecting our mental health.
Before you even read the rest of this, you probably already want a piece of cake or to snack on some chocolate. The stuff is addictive, and that alone should put you off consuming a lot of it. But why is it so toxic?
One of the most notable side effects of sugar is weight gain. But weight gain doesn’t just cause a knock to your confidence; it is a leading cause of health problems such as high blood pressure which can lead to heart disease as well as cancer.
- Resistance to leptin – a bag of sweets won’t satiate your hunger pangs; this is because your body ignores sugar because it fights off the hormone Leptin that regulates your hunger. So you will keep going and going until you have polished off an entire cake.
- Diabetes – A high consumption of sugar leads to insulin resistance, and as a result, your blood sugar levels increase.
- Acne – although sugar isn’t a direct cause of acne, there is a link. Foods with a high glycemic index raise blood sugar levels as well as insulin; this leads to an increase in androgen secretion and oil production.
- Depression – a box of chocs might not be the answer to your woes. It is believed that excess sugar consumption can cause depression due to the spikes in blood sugar and then you have an energy crash similar to that of caffeine.
- Sugar leads to tooth decay.
Studies suggest that sugary drinks contribute to an estimated 184,000 deaths a year worldwide:
- 133,000 diabetes
- 45,000 heart disease and strokes
- 6,450 cancer
These drinks are implicated in the loss of 1,316 lives in the UK alone.
This is just a handful of ways sugar can affect our health; however, there are ways to reduce the risk of ill health while still enjoying sugar.
- Opt for natural sugars such as fruit.
- Avoid sugar and sweetener filled yoghurts – opt for natural yoghurts and add healthy toppings instead.
- Stay away from sugary cereals and drinks.
- Cut down your alcohol intake.
- Natural nut butter and cocoa spreads are far better for you than palm oil and sugar based spreads.
What about ‘natural’ sources of sugar?
Free sugar is the ‘added’ sugars in food such as chocolate and biscuits. However, free sugars are also in ‘natural’ products such as honey, and unsweetened fruit juice. Milk, fruit, and vegetables are not included in this type of sugar. Generally speaking, you can consume these without restricting your intake too much.
Who doesn’t love the occasional tub of Pringles or salted popcorn at the cinema? Surprisingly, salt has benefits when consumed in moderation.
Salt contains sodium and chloride which are essential for regulating things such as fluid balance. A lack of chloride can prevent fluids from moving around the body.
Although we need some salt, we shouldn’t be overeating it.
- Salt increases blood pressure which can lead to heart disease.
- Studies suggest that salt can cause an increase in the growth of Helicobacter pylori which is a type of bacteria linked to stomach cancer.
Limiting your salt intake helps to minimise the risk of high blood pressure and cancer, however, don’t remove it from your diet altogether. Try eating natural sources of salt such as fish and vegetables instead of canned foods and ready-made meals.
The NHS reported that globally, 1.65 million deaths from cardiovascular causes in 2010 were attribute to people consuming more than 2g of sodium per day (5g of salt). In the UK, the NHS advises that adults shouldn’t consume more than 6g of salt per day.
In recent years, Himalayan Pink Salt has become a popular alternative to regular salt. Regular salt goes through a refining process which strips it of its minerals and adds in additives. Himalayan salt, on the other hand, avoids the harsh process and retains its minerals.
Additives are a bit of a grey area – food standards approve them, but many believe that they have adverse effects.
What are they?
An additive is a substance that is added to food and drinks to preserve flavour, enhance taste, appearance, and keep the product fresh.
- They are linked to insomnia and irritability
- They can cause hyper behaviour; some people believe that additives are linked to ADHD
- Similar to sugar, some people think additives cause skin problems like acne.
One study suggested that people who regularly consumed cured meat – containing the additive MSG, increased the risk of contracting lung disease by 71%.
Say no to additives and opt for natural products – no more canned foods and rainbow coloured cereals.
It’s important to be aware of how salt, sugar, and additives affect your health and body. It isn’t always possible to avoid these ingredients, that’s why exercise is essential. Why not find out more and start a tailored fitness routine and diet plan. Get in touch with me today on 07583163150 to arrange a consultation.