While boosting your immune system is no match for the power social distancing when it comes to limiting the spread of COVID-19, it is definitely another potent weapon to add your arsenal and defense against COVID-19.  

Sugar can weaken your immune system. Its impact on your immune system is a complex interplay of hormonal, metabolic and immunological processes that can severely threaten human health. Research has also shown that refined sugar can reduce how white cells perform and increase inflammatory markers making the body more susceptible to ill health.

Sweets, chocolate, cereal, coffee drinks, cookies, fruit juice, ice cream, soft drinks, and sports drinks. The list of sweet temptations is endless and the truth is that we are consuming too much sugar. The average person consumes about 20 teaspoons (82 grams) of sugar per day. The South African Heart Association recommends no more than 6 teaspoons (24 grams) of sugar for women and 9 teaspoons (36 grams) of sugar for men. Sugar is a carbohydrate that can be found naturally in some foods such as fruit, vegetables, grains, and dairy products. However, it is the added sugars that are included in foods and beverages during processing that are the most concerning.

Why is it Important to Limit Added Sugar? 

With added sugar hiding in 74 percent of packaged foods, it’s important to limit the amount of added sugar in your diet. Too much added sugar over time can lead to serious health issues and cause: 

  • Increased Triglyceride Levels: Eating too much sugar increases triglyceride (fat in the bloodstream) levels which raises the risk for developing heart disease and diabetes. 
  • Inconsistent Blood Sugar Regulation: Frequent spikes in blood sugar as a result of sugary food consumption can lead to type 2 diabetes. 
  • Poor Nutrition: Foods high in added sugars have no nutritional value and only provide extra calories. 
  • Tooth Decay: Foods and drinks with sugar can cause bacteria (plaque) to grow and lead to cavities. 
  • Unwanted Weight Gain: Eating too much sugar can cause us to not recognize when we are full and lead to extra calories consumed; which can lead to being overweight or obese. You can gain up to five pounds per year just by having one can of soda every day and not making any adjustments in your diet.

Did You Know?

According to a study published in the JAMA Internal Medicine, drinking a 350 millilitres carbonated soft drinks per day increases the risk of dying from heart disease by nearly one-third.

How to Look for Added Sugar 

With more than 60 names for sugar, it can be hard to spot which foods contain sugar as an ingredient. Some of the most commonly used names for added sugar on food labels are: 

  • Agave nectar                       Fruit juice concentrate                        Molasses 
  • Barley malt                          Fructose                                                 Sucrose 
  • Caramel                                Glucose                                                  Sugar (brown, cane, powdered)
  • Dehydrated cane juice       Honey                                                    Syrup (corn, malt, rice) 
  • Destrin or Dextrose             

Maltose Sugar is hiding everywhere, in plain sight and in some sneaky places. Take a look at the foods below that frequently includes added sugar: 

  • Granola
  • Dried fruit
  • Fruit juice
  • Bread   
  • Fat-free dairy products                                                                                                                          
  • Yogurt                                           
  • Flavoured milk                                                                       
  • Granola bars & energy bars      
  • Crackers                     
  • Cereal 
  • Some nut butters
  • Specialty coffee drinks 
  • Instant, flavoured oatmeal 
  • Salad dressing (especially fat-free varieties) 
  • Condiments and sauces (ketchup, barbeque sauce) 
  • Sauces (teriyaki sauce, sweet and sour, pasta sauce)

Tips on How to Reduce Added Sugar in Your Diet 

    • Limit or eliminate candy, sweets, and baked goods. Choose fruit for dessert instead of cookies, ice cream, and other sweets. 
    • Replace sugary drinks with water. Add fresh or frozen fruits, vegetables, or herbs to your water to increase the taste factor. 
    • Reduce the amount of sugar in homemade foods. Reduce the amount of sugar you need in a recipe or substitute sugar with unsweetened applesauce or mashed bananas. 
  • Avoid artificial sweeteners. These faux sugars may contain zero calories but they can make us crave more sweets leading to additional, unnecessary calories consumed. Also, artificial sweeteners can increase our risk of developing type 2 diabetes. On food labels, look for foods with artificial sweeteners that contain the following ingredients: aspartame, acesulfame-L, saccharin, sucralose, neotame, and stevia.

Source: www.eatright.org, www.heart.org, and www.sugarscience.com Disclaimer: Content provided is for informational purposes only and not 

Disclaimer: Content provided is for informational purposes only and not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

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