White sugar or Refined sugar is popularly known to contribute ‘Empty’ Calories, simply because they contain ‘zero nutrients’. No fats, no vitamins, no minerals, no protein – only calories!
However, sugar is still the most common ingredient used in our kitchens, because of the amazing flavor it provides to our foods. It not just in our kitchen’s any more, but the market is flooded with packaged junk foods, sugary drinks – it’s hard to take an eye off them. Our taste buds love it, but the moment it reaches the stomach, our body actually cries seeing what harm it is doing internally.
Our babies are born not knowing the taste of sugar, but we as parents introduce it to our little ones in the hope of making food tastier so they eat more of it. It’s not just about the taste, but it actually causes an addiction to consume more sugar, once it becomes regular in their diet.
While the information in this article can lead to frightening realizations, it is meant to empower you to bring consciousness and control to what you feed yourself – and your kids.
Don’t we all know that “It is easier to straighten the roots of a plant when small than straightening it once grown into a tree”?
So here are 10 reasons to avoid sugar for you & your little ones..
1. Leads to Weakened Immunity:
The body’s microbiome is made up of trillions of good bacteria that digest food, produce vitamins and protect it from germs and disease. But when kids consume too much sugar, it can alter the balance between good and bad bacteria, kill the good ones that protect our bodies and thereby weakening the immune system.
2. Increased Sugar Related Allergies:
There has been a significant rise in allergies, colds, coughs in children since the last few years. Excessive consumption of sugary drinks, candies, chocolates can lead to common allergies or cold-like symptoms. These may look like an infection but are mostly due to consuming too much of sugar.
3. Contributes to Childhood Obesity:
Recent researchers have focused a major link between high sugar consumption and childhood obesity diseases. Sugar affects the hormones and the brain. The addiction it causes makes our little ones lose control over their food consumption, leading to weight gain over time.
4. Risk of Increasing Tooth Decay or Cavities:
Tooth decay, or 'dental caries', occurs when acid from within the mouth attacks the enamel and dentine of the teeth causing holes or cavities to form. The acid is produced by bacteria called “mutans streptococcus “ that feed on mainly sugar and other starchy carbohydrates in the mouth. It is also not about the quantity of the sugar that affects tooth health, but the frequency of eating small sugar snacks every 2-3 hours of the day.
5.Sugar is highly addictive
Professors of Clinical Epidemiology at the University of Liverpool, UK, say, “Sugar is the new tobacco” and they are taking measures in asking companies to stop advertising sugary drinks and snacks to especially to children.
Just like other abusive drugs, sugar releases high levels of dopamine in the ‘reward center of the brain. When these foods are eaten frequently and in large amounts, the dopamine receptors start to down-regulate. There start to be fewer dopamine receptors, and when the same foods are eaten, their effect does not get the same ‘high’. We will need more & more of junk sweet foods to create the same rewarding feeling in the brain.
This is exactly how sugar starts making us & our little ones craving for more & more. The cycle does not end unless you as a parent can control this right from the beginning.
6. Creates Learning disability
Excess sugar can really create hormonal imbalances. A UCLA study showed that a high fructose diet can impair the ability to learn and remember. This is particularly an issue when more of high-fructose-corn-syrup or HFCS is a part of the diet. This is found in sweetened cereals, soda, fruit drinks etc.
7. Suppresses appetite for real food
The sugar addiction causes children to crave more of the same foods. The natural taste of real fruits, vegetables & goodness of our home made foods really falls flat in comparison to how sugar tastes. This indirectly leaves them eating less of real foods and more of junk that are lowest in essential nutrients required for growth of the body.
8.Risk of developing type 2 Diabetes or insulin resistance
Insulin is a major hormone in our body. Eating more sugar increases insulin levels and tells the body to first burn glucose instead of fat. Having too much glucose in the bloodstream all the time is not only toxic, but the repeated secretion of high levels of insulin become a burden on the pancreas. And what worse, the body starts becoming resistant to insulin, where more & more is still not enough for the body to function the way it should.
9. High Risk of Depression-
Sugar tends to suppress the activity of a hormone called BDNF that is low in individuals with depression and schizophrenia. Sugar is also known to be the root cause of chronic inflammation, which impacts the immune system, the brain and other systems in the body and also has been implicated in depression. Interestingly, countries with high sugar intake also have a high rate of depression.
10.Higher cholesterol and risk of heart diseases
Eating too much sugar causes a metabolic dysfunction. It results to increased LDL, decreased HDL, elevated blood sugar, elevated triglycerides and high blood pressure.
Practical Ways to tame this habit early on…
Practically speaking it is understood that in today’s world, it can be tough to completely avoid sugar since it is so readily available. So here are simple pointers on how we can reduce the overconsumption of sugar early on.
- Use natural alternatives for sweetness in your food preparations at home. It could be using fruit purees, dates powder etc.
- As far as possible, avoid refined sugar, processed foods, sugar drink and bottled juices till the age of 2 yrs. The trick is to develop the taste buds for natural & mild sweetness which happens by the age of 2 yrs. Once its developed, they will naturally prefer lesser and real healthy sweets.
- Children learn from seeing what we adults do. So why not change the sugar eating habit ourselves to slowly inculcate the same healthy habit in our children
- Controlling the frequency of eating sugary foods is important. Its okie to let them enjoy a big chocolate with their friends once or twice a week. But small little bites of sugar every hour can do more harm.
- Expose them to eating a variety of real foods at home. Engage in conversations to discuss how healthy, tasty and beneficial they can be for our bodies.
- Giving them freedom to choose foods is also important sometimes. When you say ‘no’ ‘no’ to every junk food they ask every time that is also a problem. Let them explore all kinds of foods and be the best judge themselves. Everything in moderation is really okie, the problem occurs when things take over in excess.
It’s a beginning of awareness. At least we’re starting to recognize that the mind and body are intricately connected and both must be nurtured to achieve optimal health goal for our children at the right time.
We know how bad sugar is for babies, and that is why our baby food porridge mixes contain 'no sugar'. Some porridges are mildly sweetened by adding dry dates powder. Check out our complete sugar free porridge mixes for babies on our store.
- Excerpts from the Food Revolution Summit 2017.
Leave a comment
Comments will be approved before showing up.