Singapore is one of the most sleep deprived nations in the world with almost 8 to 10 Singaporeans spending their weekends trying to repay their sleep debt. But can that actually work?
How Much Sugar Are You Consuming?
We all love our sweet treats and desserts, but are we consuming too much sugar?
HOW MUCH SUGAR ARE YOU CONSUMING A DAY?
With plenty of F&B trends such as artisan and creative confectionary to the ever-popular bubble tea, it is no surprise that sugar consumption among Singaporeans on average are higher than recommended. Late last year, it was reported that Singaporeans are consuming 60g on average a day, more than the Health Promotion Board’s recommended daily limit of 45g to 55g (9 to 11 teaspoons).1
However, most people are unsure about the amount of sugar they are consuming while eating their favourite dessert or slurping down a refreshing soda. For a general guide, here are the sugar contents in some common desserts and drinks.
It is no secret that sugar consumed in excessive amounts over a long period of time is bad for your body. From weight gain to the increased risk of diabetes, here is a quick breakdown on what happens in your body when you load up on too much sugar.
Brain: Sugar lights up the brain’s reward center which causes our brains to release a feel-good chemical called dopamine that makes us crave even more sugary foods.
Skin: Too much sugar can cause inflammation and increase collagen breakdown, which makes skin age faster prematurely. Excess sugar attaches to proteins in our bloodstream and creates harmful molecules that can hinder the repair of collagen. This results in reduced elasticity and premature wrinkles.
Pancreas: Sugar in the bloodstream stimulates the pancreas to secrete insulin. Constantly over indulging in sugar increases risk of being overweight, a major contributing factor to insulin resistance, where body does not respond to insulin well. This can cause our pancreas to overwork as it tries to produce more insulin. Due to overworking, blood sugar level rises, setting the stage for type 2 diabetes. According to Health Promotion Board2 ,an additional intake of a 250ml sweetened drink daily increases the risk of diabetes by 18 to 26 percent.
Heart: High sugar levels in the blood causes the walls of our blood vessels to get inflamed. This results in an increased risk of heart disease.
Liver: Sugar and carb-rich foods is broken down in the liver to be stored as fats. Too much of it causes a build-up that can result in liver damage.
Joints: Eating too much sugar has been shown to cause inflammation, which can further worsen joint pain.
Weight: Excess sugar is converted into fat and this leads to unhealthy weight gain. Research shows that people who regularly consumes sugar-sweetened beverages tend to weigh more than those who don’t3 .
Finding it difficult to resist SWEET temptation?
6 HACKS TO CURB SUGAR CRAVINGS
There are many reasons and causes of sugar cravings - whether you have a sweet tooth, or your body might be unconsciously craving the sugar rush as a stress reliever or simply because you need a quick mid-day pick-me-up treat.
It is fine when you give in to your sugar cravings once in a while. However, it becomes a problem though when we allow sugar-laden foods, snacks and drinks to become a daily habit, a comfort food source that we crave on a daily basis. Here are some tips on how to nip sugar cravings in the bud before it has a chance to negatively impact our long-term health and result in chronic health conditions.
We live in a sleep-deprived nation, where 44% of us sleep for less than 7 hours a night 3. When we do not get enough sleep, we feel tired and our bodies’ have false hunger signals, making us feel hungry when we are actually not. We then reach out to sugar for a quick fix, and fall back into the cycle of a sugar high and energy crash later.
Having good quality sleep is important, not only to prevent sugar cravings, but also to support our body’s optimum functioning. Click here to find out more on how we can make sure we get a good night’s rest.
Drink Enough Water
People often mistake lack of water consumption for sugar cravings and hunger pangs. Insufficient water intake may make it difficult for our bodies to metabolise glycogen for energy, thus making our bodies crave sugar for the quick energy fix. An adult needs an average of 2 litres of water per day.
Before you reach out for a cookie, ask yourself if you have had water or if you are actually feeling thirsty.
Consume Fruits and Vegetables That Are High in Fibre
When it comes to overcoming sugar cravings, it really does boil down to mind over matter. You need to make a conscious effort to choose healthier options such as fruits and vegetables that are high in fibre. Fibre-rich foods helps to provide satiety and wholesome foods like fruits and vegetables supplies our bodies with important nutrients needed to maintain good health.
Consider making yourself a smoothie as a delicious substitute for that high-fat, sugary sweet milkshake… yes, we mean “that milkshake with ice cream”.
When you start to accustom your body and taste palate to healthy, wholesome nutrient-packed options, your body will slowly stop craving for the empty-calorie sugary stuff.
Eat Proper Meals Regularly
Irregular meal times or too long of an interval between meals may make you turn to sugary and fatty foods to curb your hunger, as well as increase the chances of overeating during the next meal. Instead, you can opt to have small meals every 3 to 5 hours, and choose to include protein and healthy fats in your meals, such as whole grains, fish, poultry and eggs. These keep you feeling fuller for longer and provide the body with a healthy energy source, so our body/mind doesn’t find the need to crave sweet treats. Eating healthily and having regular meals help to balance your blood sugar levels too!
Pay Attention to Craving Patterns
Do you notice that a sugar craving hits you around the same time daily? If so, you should be prepared with a snack filled with protein, such as a handful of nuts and seeds to help you through! It should also help with cravings at a later time of the day or around bedtime.
Take Glucose Management Supplements
Sometimes, all we need is a little extra help! For the days when we do give in to sugary temptations, try taking GNC Herbal Plus® Bitter Melon Complex which contains a high potency of Bitter Melon extract that has natural insulin-like properties to help with glucose utilisation. Another great option would be GNC PN Healthy Blood Sugar Formula , which contains clinically studied Reducose® that may help to inhibit carbohydrate digestion (to prevent blood sugar spike after eating), and a blend of nutrients and herbs for glucose metabolism. To combat your sugar cravings, you may find GNC Chromium Picolinate useful.
While it is wise to watch our sugar intake, it is not to say that we should eliminate all the “sweetness” from our diets completely. A well-made dessert or an ice-cold cup of bubble tea on a hot day can be a well-deserved treat after a hard day. Watching sugar intake is not about entirely depriving ourselves of treats that we enjoy but rather as with all things, it is about making responsible and informed dietary choices, and everything in moderation.
1Recommended daily sugar intake: https://www.myheart.org.sg/healthy-eating/heart-smart-eating/sugar/
2Baker, J. A. (16 Dec, 2018). Retrieved June, 2019, from www.channelnewsasia.com: https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/singapore/sugary-soft-drinks-effects-diabetes-weight-gain-11027204
3 Hughes, L. (17 Dec, 2019). Retrieved June, 2020, from webmd.com: https://www.webmd.com/diabetes/features/how-sugar-affects-your-body 4Goh, T. (11 Dec, 2018). Retrieved June, 2019, from www.straitstimes.com: https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/health/survey-finds-4-in-10-singaporeans-not-getting-enough-sleep-but-those-above-55-sleep