Sugar, labeling and diabetes

Far too easily, and quickly too, we relate concepts such as rain and umbrella, hammer and clove, soup and spoon … and we do the same with diabetes and sugar.

When we hear ‘diabetes’ we immediately think of ‘sugar’; so much so that many people believe that sugar is the only issue affecting people with diabetes: ‘the problem’ just sugar, and not much more.

consumo de azucarBut sugar is everybody’s issue. I mean, nowadays the whole population is living with sugar up to their necks. This is highlighted by the World Health Organization in its ‘Guide to Sugar Intake for Children and Adults’ when you can’t get enough warning signs about this ingredient. Eloquent as few is this curve that represents the consumption of sugar in the last three centuries: we have gone from having an average consumption per inhabitant and year of approximately 3-6 kg in the eighteenth century to about 70 kg today.

cómo asimila nuestro cuerpo la glucosa

The real problem with people with diabetes is that, based on several factors – genetic and lifestyle – they end up with insulin resistance, so that insulin does not perform its function properly, and therefore blood glucose levels rise above what would be healthy. But let’s not fool ourselves, the problem with access to the enormous amount of sugar that surrounds us (in any of its forms) is everyone’s problem.

It is time to identify the amount of sugar present in food and to know the tools to properly interpret the labeling.

STEP ONE: fresh farmer-market food is fine

Keep in mind that we only must worry about the sugar present in ultra-processed foods or that sugar that the mercadoWHO considers to be ‘free’ sugars. I’ll explain. When you go to the farmer-market and buy a quarter and a half of spinach, a 2 kg turbot, half of cherries, two filleted chicken breasts, and other similar products, you can forget about sugar. Either because the foods mentioned do not contain it or because it is not worth counting it, at least in a negative way. These sugars, if present, are considered as ‘intrinsic’.