Think you are eating healthy? Think again.
A team of researchers went through ALL products sold in a typical north american food retailer. What they found was a surprise: 66% of packaged foods had sugar as an ingredient. (see reference #1 below for more)
This excluded such as vegetables, fruits, or other raw foods such as water, rice and grains.
Sugar was found as an ingredient in 86% of snacks and 79% of beverages. It also showed up unexpectedly in foods generally seen as healthy such as yoghurt (73%) or baby infant formula (47%).
What does it tell us?
First, it tells us that if you pick an item randomly at a food retailer, it most likely has sugar. That’s what will happen next time you are going to a grocery store, if you are not careful.
Second, even if you pick “healthy” foods with nice big labels on it (such as whole wheat, 0% fat, fortified etc.), it most likely has sugar or an equivalent in it. Read the ingredients list to confirm. Even organic food have sugar in them.
Third, this also means that if you buy food on the go, it most likely has sugar in it. Fast food restaurants have the same suppliers as food retailers. The difference is that you won’t get to read the ingredients label.
Finally, this shows that our society is ADDICTED to sugar. We are relying on an industrial food industry that likes to sprinkle large amounts of sugar on any food it produces, and not just sweets, in order to sell more. This addiction leads to inflammation. 10 years or 20 years later, it leads to obesity, and then chronic diseases.
Eating sugar continuously is equivalent to a permanent attack on our body’s system. Whenever we eat sugar, cells around our intestines produce Interleukin-1beta, a messenger substance that can cause chronic inflammation, increase insulin production and also causes insulin-producing beta cells to die off in patients with diabetes. (See reference #2 below)
What should we do?
As long as it is impossible to identify the presence of added sugars using nutrition labels and impossible to identify amounts of added sugars in packaged foods, a general guideline is to stay away as much as possible from packaged foods. Get raw foods – vegetables, fruits, whole grains, simple water etc. Those are the foods without any paper or plastic packaging. This way, you also stay away from food chemicals, additives and emulsifiers. If you really have to pick a packaged food, take 30 sec to read the ingredients list. Pick the ones that have ingredients you know (and not an unpronounceable chemical), with the least amount of sugar, corn syrup or artificial sweeteners.
If we all do this together, perhaps it will encourage a few food suppliers to actually care and offer healthy prepared foods!
- Rachel B. Acton, Lana Vanderlee, Erin P. Hobin, David Hammond. Added sugar in the packaged foods and beverages available at a major Canadian retailer in 2015: a descriptive analysis. CMAJ Open, 2017; 5 (1): E1 DOI: 10.9778/cmajo.20160076
- Erez Dror, Elise Dalmas, Daniel T Meier, Stephan Wueest, Julien Thévenet, Constanze Thienel, Katharina Timper, Thierry M Nordmann, Shuyang Traub, Friederike Schulze, Flurin Item, David Vallois, Francois Pattou, Julie Kerr-Conte, Vanessa Lavallard, Thierry Berney, Bernard Thorens, Daniel Konrad, Marianne Böni-Schnetzler & Marc Y Donath. Postprandial macrophage-derived IL-1β stimulates insulin and both synergistically promote glucose disposal and inflammation. Nature Immunology, January 2017 DOI: 10.1038/ni.3659