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Current trends advise temporary sugar fasting
Sugar is everywhere. Sugar is a key ingredient in many industrial beverages and foods such as candy, chocolate, cakes, pasta, and cookies. But it's not just hidden in candy. Fruit, in the form of fructose, and milk, in the form of lactose, also contain sugar. Other sugar dispensers are alcoholic beverages and foods rich in carbohydrates. The carbohydrates in pasta, bread, potatoes and the like are converted into sugar in the body. Many studies have already dealt with the topic. Not only is sugar bad for the teeth, it can also damage organs, skin and the brain and lead to obesity.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), less than 10 percent of the daily energy intake in both adults and children should come from free sugar. Ideally, even less than 5 percent. “Free sugars” are all types of sugar that do not come from fruits or vegetables. The WHO estimates that every German consumes around 87 grams of sugar a day, which is significantly higher than the recommendation of 25 grams. Current trends recommend that sugar be completely eliminated at times. For example, the health scientist, nutrition expert, food blogger and cookbook author Hannah Frey suggests a 40-day waiver in her book “Sugar-Free: The 40 Day Challenge”. Frey promises the Challenge participants to feel significantly healthier and happier.
How does the 40-day waiver work?
According to the publisher's product description, sugar fasting should take place in two phases. In the first phase, Frey recommends making a "right cut". Instead of reducing the sugar step by step or replacing it with alternative sweeteners, you should completely do without it. With sugar removal you get used to the sweet taste and fight the cravings for sweets. The goal, according to Frey, is to develop a better feeling for the natural sweetness of food. In the second phase, whole grains and starchy vegetables can be integrated into the menu. "The complex carbohydrates fill you up for a long time and stabilize your blood sugar level," the publisher promises.
How sensible and healthy is this radical step?
“Our body can do completely without sugar. A long-term, radical elimination of sugar would not be a particular stressful situation for our metabolism, ”explains Stefan Kabisch from the German Institute for Nutritional Research Potsdam-Rehbrücke to“ FOCUS Online ”. Humans can also get by with extremely small amounts of carbohydrates. "In theory, you can replace fruit with vegetables, carbohydrate sources with meat and legumes," says Kabisch. However, there are hardly any products that are completely free of sugar and carbohydrates. "So it would be impractical and not particularly tasty to avoid so many foods," Kabisch reports. Fruit also contains fruit sugar, but also other important substances such as vitamins.
Why is there so much sugar everywhere?
The WHO published a study examining why manufacturers and other actors along the supply chain use so much sugar in food. The analysis comes to the conclusion that an approach that would encompass the entire food system would be necessary to reduce sugar consumption. The manufacturers of foods with a high sugar content, as well as retailers, currently have more incentives to continue to rely on sugar than to limit its use or to replace it entirely. Among the incentives mentioned are that sugar is still the golden standard for sweetening, the availability of sugar is very high and sugar is inexpensive. Manufacturers and retailers must continue to rely on sugar to maintain their competitiveness.
Policy instruments against sugar
"It is clear that, from a health perspective, decisive measures are necessary to reduce the sugar content of processed foods in the European Region," explains Dr. João Breda, head of the WHO European Office for the Prevention and Control of Noncommunicable Diseases and the Diet, Exercise and Obesity Program at the Regional Office for Europe. The WHO report examines policy approaches to improve the nutritional value of food. These approaches include restricting the marketing of food to children and consumer-friendly labeling. According to the WHO, pricing and standards for school meals can also be used to influence the sugar problem. Overall, ambitious strategies for reformulating food products are needed. (fp)