The West

Is sugar really so bad for us?
Is sugar really so bad for us?

  • _C _hances are you, or someone you know, is giving up sugar. *

  • The prohibition on sugar is now one of the most discussed diets in the world with all manner of people writing, blogging and talking about what quitting sugar did for them. *

  • Even the esteemed journal Nature got on board. Last year it ran an opinion piece titled "The toxic truth about sugar" - an article that prompted the Dietitians Association of Australia to complain that sugar had been "sensationally labelled as toxic" and was not solely to blame for the ballooning rates of obesity. *

  • It's estimated that Australians consume, on average, 20 teaspoons of sugar every day and while it may taste good, sugar offers no nutritional value. *

  • One of Australia's most notable advocates for quitting sugar is Sarah Wilson, a former MasterChef host and the face of Foxtel's Lifestyle YOU program. She has written two e-books on quitting sugar. *

  • "I have an autoimmune disease and had been told for years I should quit sugar," she said. *

  • "I lost weight immediately and had so much better energy that I just kept going . . . it's been 18 months now." *

  • Ms Wilson, who admits to limiting her fruit intake because of the high levels of fructose, said quitting sugar did not mean giving up naturally sweet food. She skips fructose when it is commercially derived from sugar cane and sugar beets. She has also banned high- fructose corn syrup (found in common sweeteners) and sucrose (found in white sugar) from her diet. *

  • "A lot of foods contain other safe natural molecules like glucose and lactose which are sweet," she said. "There are lots of great sugar alternatives that don't contain fructose, such as stevia and rice malt syrup." *

  • There are different types of sugar, which are categorised according to their level of sweetness and from where they are sourced. This is where much of the controversy about sugar has been, with different schools of thought on which type of sugar is more harmful than others. Some concerns remain over chemically derived high-fructose corn syrup and whether the body can adequately digest it, with some suspicion over whether it may be linked to illness. *

  • But Dietitians Association of Australia spokeswoman Maria Packard said more longer-term studies were needed and foods containing natural sugars like fruit (fructose) and dairy (lactose) should be eaten regularly. *

* INSIDE: How to reduce sugar. *

The West Australian

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