A Bitter Life May Be Longer

groupWho would have guessed that a song by the Guess Who would become a health anthem? “Lonely feeling Deep inside, Find a corner where I can hide, Silent footsteps crowding me, Sudden darkness but I can see, No sugar tonight in my coffee, No sugar tonight in my tea, No sugar to stand beside me, No sugar to run with me.” Not exactly the most brilliant lyrics I ever heard, but not a bad message.”
“No sugar” may be impossible to achieve but what about just six teaspoons a day? That, according to the World Health Organization is what we should be striving for if we are to achieve the recommendation of just 5% of calories in our diet coming from sugar. And guess how much we are currently consuming in Canada? A whopping 26 teaspoons a day. That of course is an average, teenage boys gobble some 41 teaspoons while senior women only about twenty. Where is all that sugar coming from? A can of sugar-sweetened soft drink has about ten teaspoons, a serving of Fruit Loops about eleven (that’s a hundred times more trhan Shredded Wheat), a candy bar has around seven and a doughnut four. Then there are the hidden sugars, like four teaspoons in a serving of tomato soup, and half a teaspoon in a slice of bread.
The WHO’s recommendation of 5% of total calories is an extreme challenge to a population now consuming about 15% of total calories as sugar. And it is a bitter pill for the sugar industry to swallow because such a cutback could translate to billions of dollars in lost revenue. So we will be hearing the usual arguments about moderation and how sugar can be part of a balanced diet. The fact is that we have no dietary requirementfor sugar which can also be hidden in foods as barley malt, evaporated cane juice, corn sweetener, maltodextrin, brown rice syrup, molasses, dextrose, glucose and of course high fructose corn syrup. Time to be on the lookout for all these. One easy way to cut down is to just drink water instead of pop. Life may not be quite as sweet, but it may well be longer.
Joe Schwarcz

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