Simple Steps to Reducing Sugar Intake

March 30, 2015

The World Health Organization recently released updated guidelines regarding sugar intake for the first time since 2002. The amount of sugar Americans consume daily has steadily risen over the past few decades because processed foods, artificial sweeteners, and sugary desserts have become more common. The WHO’s new recommendation for adults and children is that sugar accounts for 10 percent or less of a person’s daily energy intake. The organization also noted that reducing daily sugar intake below 5 percent—25 grams—may yield additional health benefits.

The WHO’s guidelines focus on processed sugars rather than those found in fruits, vegetables, and milk. Yet, free sugars in processed meals and other foods are the main culprits of many Americans overindulging in empty calories. By reducing the amount of sugar consumed daily, the WHO believes that many countries will be able to lower instances of non-communicable diseases. The U.S., in particular, consumes a lot of free sugars, but seniors can keep their sugar intake low by making a few simple adjustments in their diet.

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“One soda can hold more than 5% of your daily calories.” 

Watch What You Drink 

Studies involving green tea suggest that this steeped beverage increases the prevention of Alzheimer’s disease, but filling your cup full of sugar or honeeally increase your sugar intake. The same goes for adding cream and sugar to your morning cup of Joe. Try slowly reducing the amount of sugar you add to these beverages over time, and eventually, you’ll adapt to the change in sweetness.

Other drinks such as soda, flavored waters and processed fruit juices also have a lot of free sugars. On average, one can of regular soda packs more than 5 percent of the recommended total calorie intake, which is almost entirely from sugar. While diet sodas may lack sugar, research suggests that regularly consuming these beverages still results in growing abdominal circumference and instances of obesity due to hidden sugars.

Look Out for Hidden Sugars

One of the WHO’s main concerns when releasing the new guidelines had to do with ‘hidden’ sugars found in foods that might not be traditionally considered unhealthy. A wide range of processed foods, condiments, dressings, beverages, smoothies and dairy products contain more sugar than it would seem. While food labels list even to look at a particular food, many people may not know how to navigate them or not think to even look because they believe the food looks healthy.

According to the American Heart Association, a gram of sugar converts to approximately four calories. When you’re shopping, make a point of checking how many grams of sugar are in a serving. Then, you’ll be able to calculate how many calories you’re eating from sugar. This can then be used to find the percentage of sugar in your total energy intake.

Seniors can benefit from eating fresh, nutritious foods rather than microwaving processed foods with extra fat, sodium, and sugar. For seniors who want to slow down in the kitchen, consider that assisted living communities provide healthy, home-cooked meals daily.

Make Desserts an Investment 

Organic Authority advises investing in high-quality desserts rather than eating sweet snacks daily. Instead of purchasing a bag of cookies, invest in one decadent truffle or a freshly baked pastry occasionally. Though lovely desserts are a bit more expensive, the occasional indulgence is better than a daily srepeatedlyinvestment may also encourage you to eat less rather than return to the cookie jar again and again.

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