Virtual University Of Pakistan Network
Excessive consumption of sugar has come across as one of the greatest banes of the age, and sugar is related to a host of disorders in human beings, including diabetes, obesity and the conditions that are synonym with obesity, such as hypertension and even secondary osteoarthritis.
What is sugar?
Sugar is a part of our everyday diets, in form of sweets, ice creams, sodas, fruit juices, coffee and so on. But sugar is basically a type of a carbohydrate which is naturally found in fruits, veggies and also dairy products. Like all carbohydrates, sugar too is converted to glucose following digestion, and this glucose is used by the body to release energy.
So natural sugars aren't harmful to eat, but presently, a significant percentage of population consumes a lot more sugar than they must. On an average, Americans consume around 22 tablespoon of sugar a day, whereas ideally, the consumption should not be more than 9 tablespoons a day for men and not more than 6 tablespoons a day for women.
Why do we tend to have a sweet tooth?
When we consume sugar, it enters our body and is turned into glucose immediately. This then gets to the bloodstream and initiates release of insulin. Following this, sugar is absorbed by our cells and muscles, and this releases energy. But this spike in energy doesn't last long, as insulin ensures that blood sugar levels in our bodies are normalized. That is why people tend to consume more sugar to have a rush of energy.
Similarly, another reason why people tend to have a sweet tooth is that when sugar touches the tongue, it results in release of opiods in the brain. These opoids act as natural pain killers, and release chemicals responsible for feelings related to pleasure. The body remembers this experience and tends to go for more, making sugar & sweets slightly addictive!
So how do I overcome sugar cravings?
One of the best ways to overcome sugar cravings or reduce sugar intake is to make sure that you have a healthy breakfast every day. A common source of sugar in our everyday diets is the drinks rich in sugar that we have in the morning or all through the day. And these could be coffee or tea. To minimize the amount of sugar that one has, it could be a nice idea to skip the morning coffee!
Then, instead of having a heavy breakfast and skipping lunch or dinner, one must try and make sure that one has balanced and regular meals, all through the day. This is very important as it makes sure that nutrition reaches our bodies throughout the day, and we don't feel the cravings for sugar.
Similarly, one's diet should be high in fibers. Fibers help stabilize blood sugar levels, and are found abundantly in foods like fruits, vegetables and legumes. A fine idea in this regard is having three bananas a day, because bananas are high in fruit sugars that allow the brain to calm down, and do not spike blood sugar levels like sweets. Another fine way of reducing sugar intake is to go for foods that have a low glycemic index, and this would make sure that one's blood glucose levels are always in check. Some of such foods are white bread, wheat pasta and fruits.