CHENNAI: When a 28-year-old corporate employee did not get time to have proper food due to his busy work schedule and lifestyle, he depended mostly on processed dietary items all day. In the long run, it caused him problems like obesity, high blood sugar levels and high bad cholesterol. He came to consult the doctor after his health condition got worse.
Roshan is just one of many youngsters who are not aware that something dangerous is hiding in their processed food, right from the morning cereal breakfast to ketchup, says Dr Vijay Viswanathan, head and chief diabetologist, M V Hospital for Diabetes, Royapuram.
“Every day I treat at least four young men, who were in their early 30s with high blood sugar and high blood pressure. We took a 24-hour dietary recall and found that all these people depend on junk food, which have high amount of salt, sugar, carbohydrates, fat and unhealthy proteins,” explains Dr Vijay Viswanathan.
Experts also claim that a human body requires 5-6 grams of salt per day, but we consume more than what we need. “Our body doesn’t need the extra sugar either, but we consume a lot of sugar and sweets. One can of coke has almost 12 spoons of sugar. As a result, more diabetic cases are reported. This will also lead to heart diseases,” says Dr V Mohan, founder of Madras Diabetes Research Foundation.
As per the World Health Organisation (WHO), much of the sugar consumed today is hidden in processed foods that are not usually seen as sweets. For example, 1 tablespoon of ketchup contains around 4 grams (around 1 teaspoon) of free sugar. People become addictive to processed food because of added flavours, which make them eat more.
These flavours can also trigger skin allergy in some cases. They are less healthy and increase the risk of obesity and type-2 diabetes as the person will be consuming extra sodium (salt), extra sugar and trans-fats.
“Without trans-fats the food won’t be tasty. This bad cholesterol will increase body fat, which in turn restrict the insulin level. More sodium intake may lead to kidney damage,” says Dr Meenakshi Bajaj, dietician, Government Multi Super Specialty Hospital.
To keep a check on how much sugar is in a processed food, look at the label for the ingredient ending in ‘ose’ (glucose, sucrose, lactose, and maltose) — these are all forms of sugar and honey. If the ingredient list is more in a packaged food, it means it contains more sugar.
Simple ways to cut down sugar
Add a sprinkle of cinnamon to coffee as the former helps stabilise blood sugar levels. It also adds flavour without the sweetness
Maintain a balance of carbohydrate intake with lean protein like fish, chicken and turkey Protein-rich foods slow stomach emptying, which helps manage cravings
Switch to white bread, brown rice, pasta and millets and reduce intake of alcohol
Enjoy herbal tea or water with slices of citrus fruits