Reduce sugar intake should be a nutrition priority

Last week we discussed the importance of reducing salt intake for a better health and nutrition. This week’s post is about reducing sugar intake.

The World Health Organization has recently updated the recommendations on the amount of sugar adults and children should consume every day. The intake of free sugars should be less than 10% of total energy intake per day.

Free sugars are monosaccharides like glucose and fructose and disaccharides like table sugar that are added to foods and drinks and are naturally present in honey, syrups and fruit juices. Sugars present in fresh fruits, vegetables or milk aren’t part of this recommendation as there is no reported evidence of adverse effects of consuming these sugars.

The way we consume sugar is disguised in the processed foods present in our diet. For example, 1 tablespoon of ketchup contains around 1 teaspoon of free sugars. And a can of soda contains up to 10 teaspoons of free sugars.

In the words of Dr. Francesco Branca, the Director of WHO’s Department of Nutrition for Health and Development, “We have solid evidence that keeping intake of free sugars to less than 10% of total energy intake reduces the risk of overweight, obesity and tooth decay”.

The consumption of high amounts of free sugars leads to increased weight and to higher rates of dental caries. It is also believed that the consumption of free sugars increases the overall energy intake, reducing the need for foods that provide more nutritionally adequate forms of energy.

The discussion about the health benefits and the disadvantages of sugar isn’t new and many myths appeared over the years. The following video from Business Insider deconstructs 5 myths of sugar: artificial sweeteners are healthier, sugar brings satisfaction, the sugar present in foods is bad, organic sugar is healthier and sugar free diets are the answer. The video is quite educative and answers many relevant questions.

 

Read the entire WHO recommendation here.

 

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Dangers of consuming too much salt

Salt is present in almost every single ingredient in the food we eat. There is the very bad habit to enjoy overly salty foods or to add salt for extra flavour. And adding too much salt can be harmful for your health.

According to the World Health Organization “1.7 million deaths could be prevented each year if people’s salt consumption were reduced to the recommended level of less than 5 g per day”.

Salt’s main component is sodium, a mineral essential to human health that “helps to regulate fluids by letting the body know when it’s time to replenish or dispose of water”, according to a Medical Daily article.

Salt can harm your health in many ways, from the brain, kidneys, bones, heart and skin. Salt can increase blood pressure and risk of heart disease, leading in many cases to death.

“Sodium plays a key role in balancing the levels of fluid in our bodies by signaling to the kidneys when to retain water and when to get rid of water. A high-sodium diet can interfere with this delicate process and reduce kidney function. The result is less water removed from the body, which may lead to higher blood pressure.”, according to Medical Daily.

The World Health Organization recommends reduce salt consumption by not adding salt or other salty sauces to food preparation, nor having salt on the table and limit the consumption of salty snacks. The organization also states “people are often unaware of the amount of salt they consume. In many countries, most salt comes from processed foods (e.g. ready meals; processed meats like bacon, ham and salami; cheese and salty snacks) or from food consumed frequently in large amounts (e.g. bread).” Most of the people aren’t aware of this, resulting in high daily salt intakes per person, including children.

If you would like to know more about how to sustain a balanced and healthy diet and to prevent future diseases, Medical Port can help you. Contact us to know more about maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

Read the full World Health Organization recommendation here.

 

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