Sugar has been in the news again with the World Health Organisation (WHO) recently issuing a conditional recommendation to reduce daily intake of free sugars from the current 10%, down to only 5%. We caught up with Nutritional Therapist, Natasha Wilcock to look at ways we can help you to encourage your patients to reduce their sugar consumption and improve their dental health and well-being.
There is absolutely no nutritional requirement for free sugars in our diet. The only thing sugar gives us is an increased risk of tooth decay and obesity-related diseases such as, type 2 diabetes,common cancers, heart disease and stroke. Yet, adults in the UK are consuming over 12% of their daily energy intake in the form of sugar and children and teenagers over 15%.
How can you help your patients reduce their sugar consumption?
Firstly, it is important to differentiate between ‘free’ sugars and ‘intrinsic’ (or natural) sugars.
Evidence shows that it is the free sugars that are detrimental to our health. These are found in white and brown sugar, honey, syrups, fruit juice and fruit juice concentrates. Intrinsic sugars, found in fresh fruits, vegetables and milk, are bound with fibres, fats, proteins and nutrients which all protect us from adverse effects.
Secondly, people need clear guidelines in ‘real-life’ terms. For example, the adult amount of 5% of total daily energy intake is a lot easier to understand when put into context as a maximum of 6 tea-spoons (24g) of sugar per day. Under the same recommendations, children should consume no more than 3 teaspoons per day (12g).
Here are six top tips to minimise sugar:
1. Avoid soft drinks, ‘fruity’ water and fruit juices.
We all know you can replace with plain water, milk or watered down fruit juices (1:3 ratio of juice to water), but why not try a squeeze of lemon in some water and add fresh mint leaves for an extra twist!
Another alternative is a herbal tea cooled down – children love these and they come in loads of different flavours, so why not try your luck with a spicy cinnamon or zesty lemon and ginger flavour?
2. Restrict chocolates, sweets, cakes, biscuits and similar sweet ‘treats’ to once a week.
Try the recipe below if you want a dense, fudgey, chocolate cake containing no free sugars.
3. Stay away from fruity yoghurts.
Replace these with plain yoghurts and add fresh fruit yourself.
4. Check your cereal and opt for a low-sugar cereal.
Shredded Wheat contains only 0.7g of sugar per 100g or you could go even better and have
porridge with cinnamon or eggs on toast.
5. Condiments are frequent culprits for sneaky free sugars.
Tomato ketchup is one of the worst offenders with 4g (1 teaspoon) of sugar per serving. A serving of mayonnaise has in comparison less than 0.5g of sugar per serving.
6. Look out for added sugar in savoury convenience foods.
Check the labels for the sugar content on ready-prepared curry sauces and pasta sauces as these often contain added sugars.
Fudgey chocolate cake
1 1/2 cups ground almonds
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 cups pitted dates
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons coconut oil
2 teaspoons vanilla essence
1. Begin by placing the dates into a blender with the water and whizz until smooth.
2. Now add in the eggs, coconut oil and vanilla essence and mix again.
3. Grab yourself a mixing bowl and place the ground almonds, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt in as well as adding the wet mixture from the blender and mix thoroughly.
4. Place the mixture into a buttered cake tin (a square brownie tin works well) and bake at 160 degrees for 25-30 minutes.
5. Serve with cream and fresh fruit and enjoy!
About the author
Natasha Wilcock qualified as a nutritional therapist in 2005 and is on hand to help adults andchildren improve their well-being through healthy eating.