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We all know it contributes to diabetes, tooth decay, gum disease, heart disease, obesity and various metabolic disorders.
It is often mislabelled as natural. In fact it is an early example of agro-industry where vast swamps were drained to create sugar plantations which were worked initially by slaves under awful conditions.
Sugar was expensive 400 years ago and so only the rich could afford to suffer from tooth decay. Queen Elizabeth the 1st is said to have blackened stumps for teeth and there is an interesting account of the extraction of one of her teeth.
As the UK industrialised, towns grew, plantations became more productive and cheap sugar fuelled our satanic mills.
So the UK developed its sweet tooth and nearby countries without plantations just ate less sugar. To the extent that the average Frenchman eats 10% of the sugar that his English cousin consumes today. Don't mention Scotish Mars bars.
Post slavery, for over three quarters of a century, about 240,000 East Indians were shipped over the high-seas to labour on Guyana's sugar plantations as indentured servants under conditions reminiscent of slavery. This was just one part of the West Indian sugar trade. Guyana remains one of the poorest and internationally neglected countries in the Western Hemisphere. The original tribal nomads of Guyana, (Amerindians) were decimated by Western diseases
Sugar can also be sourced from beet and root crops. Again this can be imported from impoverished communities in central europe where it is processed in factories that look reminiscent of oil refineries.
Do I eat sugar, well yes, but I consider it an indulgence and not a food. Unless it seriously adds to the quality of a meal then just like salt and fat, I would rather it was considerably reduced or absent.
It is clear that when I talk to patients that they have no idea how much of this cheap sweet filler is packed into their food to raise their addiction to those foods. People are shocked that a can of coke contains eight teaspoons of sugar and it is made palateable by adding acids and carbonating it. Acid and sugar.... tooth wrecking
Sugar is part of the UK and the West's food industry and remains self regulated as it probably always will. (Vested interests)
If you are concerned that sugar is being slipped into your diet or the food of your children, then you will have to read labels. Unfortunately you will have to decifer the very small fine print on the back of a glossy packet when a simple traffic light warning system could make it so easy for you to assess your sugar, fat or salt intake.
Sometimes parents tell me that they do not know how, why or who supplies their children. Even four year olds!
It is NOT cruelty to limit sugar intake. Giving children tooth decay is unnecessary in my opinion.
Eat sweet things as a treat and consider cleaning your teeth soon after. If there is a lot of acid with the sugar as in fizzy drinks, dilute the last mouthfuls with water, rinse with water and then about an hour later brush your teeth. This sounds complicated but the acids temporarily soften the tooth surface and you will cause damage if you brush immediately after drinking carbonated drinks, fruit juices and some fruit teas.