It is Sugar Awareness Week and in February 2016 I wrote about my sugar and yeast intolerance and how I had to make some life changes.
A yeast infection of the gut commonly known as Candida Albicans had compromised my life to such an extent I could barely get up in the morning.
I had brain fog, I was constantly exhausted, I had no libido, I had skin rashes and I ached constantly like I had run a marathon.
I thought all my symptoms were attributed to the menopause.
A colleague suggested that I might have a food allergy and she recommended an alternative practitioner.
The rest is history and you can read more here.
I wasn’t overweight nor did I overdose on sugar. I am fit and do lots of regular exercise.
I took the white stuff in my tea, I liked the occasional biscuit but I rarely ate sugary stuff like chocolate and cakes and when I did it was so occasional it wasn’t worth worrying about.
I had changed my diet to include more vegetables, pulses, rice, pasta, nuts and granola snack products.
What I thought was a healthy diet tipped the balance and made me even worse.
Candida is the most common cause of fungal infections in humans.
The healthy bacteria in your body keep candida under control but if healthy bacteria levels are compromised then candida overproduces.
The UK has an obesity problem, this is not earth-shattering news but it seems we are no further forward in helping youngsters and adults alike to cut back on their sugar intake.
In 2016, 26% of adults were classified as obese, an increase of 15% since 1993.
In 2016/17, 1 in 5 children in year 6 (10-year-olds) and 1 in 10 reception year (4-5-year-olds)
were classified as obese. (NHS-Digital)
Freakshakes, a milkshake drink made with milk, dessert and various toppings have been making the news.
The BBC reported that they contain 39 teaspoons of sugar equivalent to over 1,000 calories.
To put it in perspective that is more than 6 times the amount of the recommended daily amount of sugar for 7-10-year-olds or the equivalent of drinking more than 5 cans of cola.
When I knew I had Candida, I took a long hard look at the what I had in my kitchen cupboards and on the supermarket shelves.
What I found shocked me to the core.
Baby formula milk contains sugar, my usual stock food items ALL contained sugar in some shape or form.
We are a nation of sweet tooth lovers so it should come as no surprise if babies develop a sweet tooth from infancy.
What hope is there of cracking the sugar epidemic?
Diabetes UK states that 3.2 million people have been diagnosed with diabetes (2013) by 2025 they estimate the number to reach 5 million.
630,000 people have diabetes but as yet have not been diagnosed.
The figures allowing for a 10% difference, either way, are staggering.
What is diabetes costing the nation or the NHS for that matter?
According to Diabetes UK, it is costing the NHS in excess of £10 billion a year, 10% of the NHS budget.
This cost includes complications caused by diabetes such as amputations (which account for over 100 each week) blindness, kidney failure and strokes.
If I was a conspiracy theorist, it makes sense to keep the nation fat, think of the cost of drugs needed to treat the myriad of diseases caused by diabetes?
What is the answer?
If I knew, I would be on the phone to the Rt Hon Theresa May MP.
I do believe it has to start with the parents first and foremost then schools but we also need to have information that is easy to read on food items.
What is the point of a school encouraging pupils to bring in healthy snacks like fruits and healthy snack bars, if they sell chocolate bars, biscuits and fizzy drinks at break time?
The food industry needs to implement a ‘traffic light system’ on foods and keep it simple, we don’t have the time or the understanding to break down what the ingredients mean:
RED: high sugar content
ORANGE: medium sugar content
GREEN = low or no sugar
Exercise is crucial.
My school days comprised of a PE lesson every day and there was a time in the curriculum to do it. Two afternoons a week we would have games.
I don’t remember any overweight kids, we all did some form of exercise daily.
We have more knowledge about exercise and nutrition than we did thirty years ago, why then has fat become the new norm?
The Department for Education says it is up to schools to determine how much time is devoted to PE but recommends a minimum of two hours a week?
It is my belief that this is not enough to keep youngsters fit and healthy.
Factor in the pressure of exams, the digital revolution, too much homework and an addiction to the screen, is it any wonder we have fat, stressed out, anxiety-riddled kids?
The question that needs to be addressed urgently is where we go from here and I am not sure I have the answer to that yet.