Why You Need To Watch The Frankly Terrifying Documentary That’ll Tell You What Sugar’s Doing To Your Body

Just a spoonful of sugar… is going to contribute to burgeoning liver disease

Sugar Diet Health Sugar-Free

by Jess Commons |
Published on

Head up guys, sugar is not, I repeat not, very good for you.

You probably knew that. It’s only been like, the one single thing the foodie press has been banging on about for the past year or so. If it’s not uber-pretty bloggers encouraging you to give up sugar altogether, it’s the daily reminder from the broadsheets that all your favourite foods are riddled with the stuff, and it’s probably going to kill you dead right there on your couch.

It was with all this going on that Fiona Phillips decided to take a look at just how harmful sugar actually is in a new BBC documentary called The Truth About… Sugar. In it, Fiona meets scientists, sugar junkies and people from the food industry to figure out just how dangerous our favourite substance is.

‘I heard this news bulletin the other day from the government’s lead person on childhood cancer and he said if our kids continue eating junk food and fizzy drinks at the rate they are then they’re going to be the first generation to die before us,’ Fiona said when we caught up with her earlier this week. ‘I thought that was so shocking. I mean how can manufacturers then be allowed to make a can of Coke with nine teaspoons of sugar it when the daily allowance is six?!’

The problem lies, according to the documentary, not in naturally occuring sugars but instead in 'free' and 'refined' sugars. ‘Bascially you need to watch out for sugar OUT of it’s natural sources,’ Says Fiona. ‘Like, honey’s a free sugar, which I was shocked about because I use it in cooking when it says to use sugar and I thought I was doing OK!' Once removed from it's natural sources, we're liable to eat way more of the stuff 'Normally I’d only eat one apple but because I’ve got a juicer, which I shove about 10 apples in daily, I’m actually only getting the sugar out of the 10 apples – none of the roughage or nutrients from that one apple I could have eaten.’

So what damage can overeating sugar do? ‘It’s packed with pure energy, but no nutrients,' explains Fiona. 'So, if you’re packing loads of sugar away and you’re not burning that energy off it’s leading to obesity, it’s leading to type 2 diabetes, liver diesases… Since you can’t burn it off it gets stored as fat and then if it doesn’t get stored as fat then it starts getting stored in your organs and it can be horrendous.’

We’re hard-wired to crave all energy giving food because it keeps us going but sugar is just empty energy; it doesn’t have nutrients

What’s even worse is that our brains are actually hard-wired to crave sugar. ‘There’s a receptor in your brain that lights up and makes you feel good and it makes you want more sugar. I mean, we’re hard-wired to crave all energy giving food because it keeps us going but sugar is just empty energy; it doesn’t have nutrients.’

And it’s not just food to watch out for; obviously Coke and sports drinks are big offenders but other drinks you might not have considered like ginger beer (six of more teaspoons per can) and sweetened water (same per bottle). Also, seemingly healthy drinks… ‘Those Innocent smoothies!’ Says Fiona. ‘I used to think "What would keep me going through the day that’ll give me a bit of nutrition?" And then halfway though the morning I’d have a massive slump and it’s because there’s so much sugar in those smoothies! When you’re overeating sugar, your body is really struggling to get enough insulin out to deal with the sugar and that’s why your pancreas can eventually stop working.’

So what needs to happen to make people sit up and take notice? Fiona reckons it's the food manufacturers that need to take responsibility. ‘There’s a bit of the interview I did with a woman from a food manufacturer in the programme and I sat there and grilled her for half an hour and she just played the safe thing saying: “Well, you know sugar isn’t bad for you if it’s not taken in large amounts and blah blah blah…” But they need to take responsibility!’ More supermarkets need to up their labelling game, too, ‘It takes me two hours to do a shop because I’m studying food packets and I shouldn’t have to do that. Everyone should be made to adhere to that traffic light system that Sainsbury's and Marks & Spencer do so we all know that if we see a "red" by fat or salt or sugar you should not be buying it. But more to the point they shouldn’t be making it.'

The Truth About… Sugar is on Thursday 19th March on BBC One at 9PM

Like this? Then you might also be interested in:

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How To Be Dairy Free Whether You're Allergic Or Just Fancy A Break From The Cow

'People Need To Know It's Happening Here' Why You Need To Watch Zawe Ashton's Comic Relief Documentary On FGM

Follow Jess on Twitter @Jess_Commons

Picture: Stephanie Gonot

This article originally appeared on The Debrief.

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