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Sugar rush or sugar crash?

Photo by Viktor Forgacs on Unsplash

Before you grab that “sugar boost” because you feel spent, you may want to consider taking a walk to refill your water bottle or simply stretch. According to a new study by the University of Warwick, Humboldt University of Berlin, and Lancaster University, sugar does not help to improve mood or make you more alert. Instead, it can actually make you feel more tired and less alert after consumption.

It turns out sugar rush is just a myth. According to the study, which sought to examine the effect of carbohydrates on mood, carbohydrates have no beneficial effect on mood. If anything, they lower alertness within 60 minutes of consumption and increases fatigue 30 minutes after consumption. This was found true regardless of the amount or type of sugar consumed, and the activity- mental or physical- undertaken after. This study goes a long way in informing our eating habits, particular so to reduce sugar intake especially today, when sweetened foods and drinks are so convenient and enthusiastically promoted.

Presently, WHO recommends consumption of free sugar that is less than 10% of total daily energy intake. This reduction has also been shown to reduce the risk of overweight and obesity, as well as tooth decay. A further reduction of free sugar intake to less than 5% (6 teaspoons) of daily energy intake has been shown to provide further benefits. Most sugars are however hidden in processed and fast foods, so if you’re often reaching out for the cake, coke, a sweet beverage, samosa and other convenient food, you are likely to be consuming more sugar than you need.

With the current rise of overweight, obesity and related metabolic disorders we need to be more deliberate with our food choices. Fortunately this effect of sugar does not apply to natural sugars found in fresh fruits and vegetables. So pack them up for a real nutrient boost.

Christine Nderitu

Licensed Nutritionist and Public Health Practitioner, Christine, helps people lead healthy lifestyles through health education and behaviour change practices that are simple and practical. She writes a weekly (Monday) nutrition column in the People Daily and is experienced in nutrition management, research, health education and promotion in; HIV/AIDS, Sexual and Reproductive Health, Maternal and Child Health and Non-Communicable Diseases. She has been engaged in these activities since 2011. Christine feels the world needs more stories that celebrate and normalize desired (good) behaviour. And humanity-we have many preventable and often manmade public health issues today.