Keeping Sweet on Your Health

Keeping Sweet on Your Health
27 February 2017
February is marked in South Africa as Healthy Lifestyle Awareness Month. One of the key ways we can commit to a healthy lifestyle, and stick to it, is by reducing the amount of sugar we consume every day.

Is sugar really that bad?
The consumption of sugar is directly linked to tooth decay, obesity and a host of other health problems, but that’s not to say we shouldn’t have it at all.  There are also two different types of sugars, known as ‘free sugar’ and ‘natural sugar’. Natural sugars are found in fruit and dairy products, while free sugar is the type that’s found in your tea, syrups or is added to foodstuffs. It’s the free sugar we need to cut down on, most of all.

How to reduce your sugar intake
You may think that just skipping a teaspoon of sugar in your tea will be enough but, unfortunately, much of the sugar we consume every day isn’t even visible to us. That’s why it’s important to learn how to read food labels, and figure out which foodstuffs you and your family consume have added sugar within them. Food labels don’t always list sugar as ‘sugar’ and it is often labelled as glucose, fructose, corn syrup, dextrose or sweetener. Learning how to read food labels, and reduce the amount of hidden sugars in your diet, will go a long way towards cutting down your sugar intake. Processed foods often hide a lot of sugar within them, so skip that aisle and head towards the fresh fruits and vegetables. The less processed food you eat, the lower your sugar intake will be.

What about the sugar tax?
One of the biggest places that sugar hides, is in what we drink. Fizzy, or carbonated, beverages, can contain 40 grams or more of sugar, and often it’s far more. This set of guidelines suggests that people shouldn’t consume more than 30 grams of sugar in one day, which means just one can of fizzy drink could send you right over the recommended daily intake. The “Sugar Tax” hearings took place in late January this year, as the South African government seeks to levy a tax on all sugar-sweetened beverages. Purported to take effect in April 2017, this tax will effectively raise the price of sugar-sweetened beverages, to curb public consumption and decrease our country’s rates of obesity, diabetes and related diseases. The South African Treasury reported, during the highly publicised “Sugar Tax Hearings” that the negative effects of implementing this tax would be relatively small, despite fears that it may lead to job losses or have a negative effect on manufacturing companies’ bottom lines. Further public hearings will take place during 2017, as we look forward to hearing about government’s approach to this suggestion during the forthcoming budget speech.  

Who can I talk to about reducing my sugar intake?
If you’re thinking about adopting a new eating habit, or healthy lifestyle, chat to your doctor or clinic sister about ways you can decrease your daily sugar intake, and look at ways of increasing your intake of healthy, natural foods. If you’re concerned about your health, or need assistance in creating a specific eating plan, your doctor, dietitian or nutritionist can also assist. Your doctor can refer you to a specialist if you need.

LifeDoc Can Help
LifeDoc™ is here to help. Now available for download as an Android app (with iOS coming soon!), LifeDoc™ helps you take charge of your personal health information, while making it easier to keep track of appointments, schedule those check-ups and securely store your personal health records. Register here or like the LifeDoc™ Facebook page for regular updates. You can also stay on track with LifeDoc™ developments on Twitter.