Today I'm going to talk about the biggest threat to health in Malaysia - sugar! I don't need to bring out all the statistics showing Malaysia to be the biggest per head consumer of this product in SE Asia; and having the highest rates of obesity and of diabetes. We all know this stuff!

Let's just face the facts - sugar is seriously addictive. We give it to our kids 'to make the food taste nice', and create lifelong addicts of them. We might just as well be introducing them to tobacco or alcohol.

So, we all know we must give up sugar in our diets. Let's talk about that. It's going to be hard. We all know the excuses made by drinkers & smokers - "I'm not really addicted, I just drink/smoke because it gives me pleasure. I could give up easily if I wanted". Or, "I'll definitely give up tomorrow/next week/in the new year/when I feel better/once I've changed my job". Well, trust me, we are making just the same excuses about giving up sugar. Face the facts - we are addicted, aren't we?

Now let's talk a bit about sugar itself. Sugar is a very complex subject, but we'll just simplify it by calling it added sugar and natural sugar. Added sugar is what you pour into tea/coffee, cakes and so on. BUT, it is also found in huge quantities in processed foods such as: sodas, energy drinks, smoothies, 'low-fat' yoghurts, desserts, cakes, biscuits, breakfast cereals, health bars, chocolates, salad dressings ....and much, much more. If your'e going to cut out sugar, you must be aware of all this added sugar, so my message is: READ THE INGREDIENTS. And as a general rule, any product that advertises itself as being 'healthy', 'low fat', 'natural' etc is almost sure to have a high sugar content - so don't take the label at face value. I picked up a pot of local Akasia Natural Yoghurt the other day. I nearly paid for it at the till before reading the ingredients on the back of the bottle - sugar was the major ingredient. How could that be described as Natural???

Our bodies cannot metabolise added sugars for a whole load of complex reasons which we'll talk about in the future. In simple terms, our daily consumption of processed sugars is way to high, and we cannot exercise enough to consume it. But even if we could exercise like an olympic athlete, processed sugars for various reasons would still lay down layers of fat. Natural sugars, as found in most fruits and vegetables however, are metabolised differently, and do not cause problems of fat. There is more than enough natural sugars in a normal diet containing fruit and vegetables. We do NOT need to add processed sugar into our diet.

That's all on this subject for today. Let's now face up to our addiction and beat it!

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