Sugar the sweet way to ill health
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And while consumers vent their frustrations over the increase of the sugar tax and attempts by companies to go the healthier route, research shows that increased sugar consumption has more cons than pros.
A review of 36 studies by Stellenbosch University found that the consumption of sweetened drinks worldwide was on the rise.
This was of great concern considering how increased consumption impacted directly on the metabolic syndrome, contributing to heart disease, diabetes, high blood sugar and unhealthy cholesterol levels.
Professor Faadiel Essop, the review’s senior author, said: “Our analysis revealed that the frequent intake of these beverages contributes to a number of health complications.
“There is need for public education on the harmful effects of excess consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages.”
The report goes on to state that studies on diet and diabetes revealed that consuming as few as two servings of sugar-sweetened beverages a week was linked to an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes, while drinking at least one sugar-sweetened beverage a day was associated with elevated blood pressure.
Professor Hettie Schönfeldt, from the University of Pretoria’s Institute of Food, Nutrition and Well-being, said the truth was that people did not need sugar in their daily diets as a source of energy.
Schönfeldt said that considering how other foods also contained sugar, the consumption of sweetened beverages resulted in an excess which was stored in the body as fat.
She said the excess fat often resulted in people being overweight.
Schönfeldt and Essop’s assertions were echoed by the University of Washington’s report from earlier this year, which revealed that South African women topped the obesity ladder in the sub-Saharan Africa region.
Schönfeldt said the middle class, in particular, had a booming obesity problem.
Obesity and its health complications often cost the state a lot of money as citizens relied on state resources for their medical needs.
“People often need health care at the expense of the state.
“So we have to raise our voices and call on the private sector to behave more ethically in what they provide to communities,” Schöenfeldt said.
She said what aggravated matters was that often one was exposed to excessive amounts of fast food outlets within a the same vicinity.
She said there was a need to teach people to make healthier food choices, such as drinking water and milk as healthier and cheaper alternatives.
Schönfeldt said: “Artificial beverages increase the appetite which leads to a vicious cycle.
“But this is a crude habit and something it can be unlearnt if people focus on what they are consuming.”
She said, however, that while some companies were making an effort to give people healthier choices such as flavoured water, attempts such as reducing the bottle of Coke, which many decried on social media platforms was more of a marketing ploy.
She encouraged people to simply look into adding fresh fruits around the home or simple mint as a way to make water more tasty.
Health and wellness expert Vanessa Ascencao said a host of studies also showed that curcumin supplementation had medicinal properties which partially counteracted the cluster of risk factors that make up metabolic syndrome.
She advised that people should go for regular check-ups, ensure they had regular exercise, followed a healthy diet, including unprocessed foods and supplemented with fish oil.
Fish oil protected the heart, eased inflammation, improved mental and cardiovascular health and lengthened life.
She also advised people to look into Bio-Curcumin and Purest Omega 3, available at leading health stores and pharmacies.