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‘The Elephant in the room’ – Sugar

The Elephant in the room’  – Sugar

I would like to welcome the people who attended the Get Healthy Stay Healthy Wimbledon meeting on Tuesday to our community, I thought our new venue in the library was excellent and we will be certainly be making it our home for future meetings. Well done Chris for organising it, we will have the next meeting date for you in the next 48 hours.

The topic for my talk in Wimbledon was “The Western Diet and why it is toxic to your health” It’s a fascinating story, a ‘who dunnit’ of epic proportions as I mentioned before and far too involved to discuss in detail in my blog.

I spoke about what I call the ‘elephant in the room’ that connects most of the health problems we are now seeing in the 21st Century and that is processed sugar. And this is the message I want to home in on in my blog.

The bottom line is that we are all eating too much processed sugar and is fundamentally the root cause of the current obesity pandemic, leading to the pandemic of metabolic syndrome, of coronary heart disease, diabetes, cancer and dementia which has also taken hold worldwide.

The NHS guidelines for sugar is that adults should have no more than 30g of added sugars a day, (roughly equivalent to seven teaspoons).

So, the question is, did you know this and if you did do you know what your daily intake of sugar is? I would suspect that most people would have no idea on both of these, because it is hidden away in the processed foods you are consuming.

Between 70 – 80% of processed foods contain ‘hidden’ refined sugar. I say hidden because you don’t know its there but the companies that manufacture the foodstuffs certainly do. They know, and this is key, that sugar is addictive (more addictive than cocaine). You hear some people say, “I have to have my sugar fix” and that is exactly what it is. The more sugar the processing companies add to a foodstuff the more you are going to buy it, it’s called profit, ‘healthy’ doesn’t enter the equation.

This is the main reason why sugar consumption per person has doubled in 50 years and that the increase in consumption mirrors the increase of metabolic syndrome worldwide. Sugar is toxic to your health. (I am specifically talking about refined sugar and not fruit sugar).

Why is sugar so bad for you is because, we evolved over millions of years as hunter gatherers and therefore to eat like a hunter gatherer (paleo diet). Refined sugar was not on the menu, so there was no need for the body to evolve to metabolise it in large quantities. It is your liver that takes the hit for the sugar rush you expose it to on a regular basis. The liver takes one look at it and says “oh no not more sugar” and to cut a long story short will metabolise it as fat, sugar in, fat stored (and then try and get it off).

It’s not about calories in verses calories out and therefore it is your fault if you are overweight (gluttony and sloth), because a calorie is not a calorie, it is where it comes from determines where it goes and in the case of sugar it goes to your fat cells.

So, what do we do about it?

Somehow we need to get off the sugar, and because sugar is so addictive I realise that is easier said than done. By staying connected with the Get Healthy Stay Healthy Community we will certainly be giving you the latest thoughts and tips on this. Take back control of your sugar intake and you will notice a significant health benefit relatively quickly.

Use sugar sparingly as we did right up to the 20th Century.  I love ice creams too and I won’t be giving them up any time soon, but I keep the rest of my intake to an absolute minimum and the best way to do that is to eat real food, which we will discuss separately.

I have been asked to send out information on what is processed food.

Here is info taken from NHS website.

Processed foods

A processed food is any food that has been altered in some way during preparation.

Food processing can be as basic as:

  • freezing
  • canning
  • baking
  • drying

Not all processed foods are unhealthy but some processed foods may contain high levels of salt, sugar and fat.

What counts as processed food?

Examples of common processed foods include:

  • breakfast cereals
  • cheese
  • tinned vegetables
  • bread
  • savoury snacks, such as crisps, sausage rolls, pies and pasties
  • meat products, such as bacon, sausage, ham, salami and paté
  • “convenience foods”, such as microwave meals or ready meals
  • cakes and biscuits
  • drinks, such as milk or soft drinks

Not all processed food is a bad choice. Some foods need processing to make them safe, such as milk, which needs to be pasteurised to remove harmful bacteria.

Other foods need processing to make them suitable for use, such as pressing seeds to make oil.

What makes some processed foods less healthy?

Ingredients such as salt, sugar and fat are sometimes added to processed foods to make their flavour more appealing and to extend their shelf life, or in some cases to contribute to the food’s structure, such as salt in bread or sugar in cakes.

Buying processed foods can lead to people eating more than the recommended amounts of sugar, salt and fat as they may not be aware of how much has been added to the food they are buying and eating. These foods can also be higher in calories due to the high amounts of added sugar or fat in them.

How can I eat processed foods as part of a healthy diet?

You have no control over the amount salt, sugar and fat in processed food but you do have control over what you to choose buy.

Reading nutrition labels can help you choose between processed products and keep a check on fat, salt and sugar content. Most pre-packed foods have the nutrition information on the front, back or side of the packaging. If the processed food you want to buy has a nutrition label that uses colour-coding, you will often find a mixture of red, amber and green.

When you’re choosing between similar products, try to go for more greens and ambers, and fewer reds, if you want to make a healthier choice.

There are guidelines to tell you if a food is high or low in fat, saturated fat, salt or sugar.

The guidelines, which are for adults, are:

Total fat

High: more than 17.5g of fat per 100g
Low: 3g of fat or less per 100g

Saturated fat

High: more than 5g of saturated fat per 100g
Low: 1.5g of saturated fat or less per 100g


High: more than 22.5g of total sugars per 100g
Low: 5g of total sugars or less per 100g


High: more than 1.5g of salt per 100g (or 0.6g sodium)
Low: 0.3g of salt or less per 100g (or 0.1g sodium)


The Health of the Nation – latest info

The Health of the Nation – latest info

Here is some more ammunition for you, following on from my last blog, it’s all very depressing stuff. All future blog posts will be based on how I see the future and how we can help ourselves take control and personal responsibility for our actions and ultimately our health.

Diabetes doubles in 20 years – Tuesday 27th February

The number of people living with diabetes has doubled in the past 20 years and the condition is the “fastest-growing health crisis of our time”, according to Diabetes UK, which found that the number of people diagnosed with the condition across the UK had reached almost 3.7 million — an increase of 1.9 million since 1998.

A further 12.3 million people are at an increased risk of type 2 diabetes, the charity said. The number of people diagnosed with type 1 or type 2 diabetes has increased by almost 100,000 since last year, from 3,590,501 to 3,689,509.

Cancer Research – Monday 26th February


Millennials are set to be the fattest generation of Britons, with 70% dangerously overweight before they hit middle age, research shows. The UK is already the third fattest nation in western Europe (behind Iceland and Malta).

People born between the early 1980s and mid-1990s are set to overtake baby boomers as the age group with the highest proportion of overweight or obese people, according to Cancer Research UK.

While half the post-war generation were too heavy by the time they reached 35 to 44, more than seven in 10 millennials will be by 2026-28. That would make them the most overweight age group in British history, Cancer Research said.

Just two examples, today and yesterday, of the latest ‘health’ news we seem to be getting from the scientists / media. Two things we can say for certain, firstly it’s getting far worse and secondly it will bankrupt the NHS in the next 10 years. This is without discussing the personal implications of the current appalling statistics, the misery and distress for millions of people.

Obesity is without doubt the biggest public health crisis facing the UK today. The consequences of obesity on our health include diabetes, heart disease, dementia and cancer. These are all avoidable diseases and people are dying needlessly which makes it even more shocking.

Unless you have been living in a cave for the last 30 years we all know what the problem is, (yes we do) it’s our diet, and here is the problem, most people eat far too much processed food (anything, in a box, carton, packet or can with a label on it that is made in a factory). Between 70 – 80% of those manufactured products contain hidden refined sugar. As a consequence the UK has become an obese society where being overweight is viewed as normal.

Why would they do that? simple, as we have discussed sugar is addictive (and the processing companies know this) the more sugar they add to a product the more you will buy it.  You didn’t think it was because it was healthy did you?

We have become addicted to the western diet (invented by the US in the 1970s) because of what it contains, toxic and addictive amounts of processed sugar. Sugar consumption per person has doubled in 50 years and is the ‘cause’ of our current obesity pandemic.