Less sugar, more fluids: two keys to better health
Diabetes A diet including excess sugar consumption and poor hydration can impact health, both for those with and without diabetes.
Whether you have diabetes or not, it pays to monitor your intake of sugar and water.
Many people do not realise how much sugar they are consuming or how little water they are drinking. For many, reducing sugar and increasing hydration at the same time can benefit health.
Diabetes care is “significantly under-resourced,” says Kieran O’Leary.
"Most people, particularly children, are consuming far too much sugar, so it’s wise to monitor your intake," says Consultant Dietitian, Sarah Keogh, who attends events with Diabetes Ireland alongside other healthcare practitioners and has worked with drinks brand, MiWadi.
For people with diabetes, sugar-free hydration is especially important - not just to hydrate the body without aggravating their condition, but also to counterbalance the dehydrating effects of high blood glucose levels, or excessive urination that high blood glucose causes.
50,000 more people expected to have diabetes by 2030
Unhealthy diets, lack of exercise and being overweight are all risk factors for developing diabetes. Diabetes is linked with increased risk of heart attack and stroke and can also lead to blindness and, in some cases, amputation, if it is not well-controlled. Yet, in Ireland, the number of people with diabetes is expected to rise by a quarter by 2030 – equating to more than 50,000 extra people with the condition.
So why do people still avoid the healthy lifestyle challenge? “Denial, lack of understanding, education and the impact on your social life all play their part,” says Kieran O’Leary, Chief Executive of Diabetes Ireland.
Spotting sources of sugar
“There is no need to ban all sugar; so long as you are consuming a balanced diet, but it is worth being aware of sugar in many of the foods that we eat and drink. As well as obviously sugary foods, food products with 'hidden' sugar can add calories to your daily diet and take a toll on your teeth. It pays to read the labels on food products, especially if you are watching your weight."
When it comes to nutritional content Keogh says, "Anything with less than 5gm of sugar per 100gm of food and less than 2.5gm per 100ml for drinks is low-sugar according to EU guidelines."
For people with diabetes, it is important to keep blood sugar levels steady. Excess sugar consumption can raise blood glucose levels. "Long-term raised blood glucose can lead to medical issues such as an increased risk of heart disease and kidney problems," says Keogh.
Are you dehydrated?
“Our bodies are 55-60% water. This water is essential for our health and plays a role in keeping our bodies and brains healthy and functioning. This is true for people of all ages," says Keogh.
For most people, including people with diabetes, the recommended intake is around two litres of fluid (that's about eight glasses) daily.
For most people, including people with diabetes, the recommended intake is around two litres of fluid (that's about eight glasses) daily. "Water is best for hydration, but other good sources include low-fat milk and herbal teas. Adding a cordial, such as MiWadi can make it easier to drink more water," says Keogh.
Don't wait until you feel thirsty - you can be 1-2% dehydrated before the feeling of thirst kicks in," says Keogh. "Ensure you drink throughout the day, rather than leaving it until the evening. People tend to be a little dehydrated in the morning, as they have lost water through the breath and skin overnight."
Balancing sugar intake
Watch out for drinks with added sugar and try to avoid adding it to hot drinks. Keogh advises: "Look for drinks with no or low sugar. Plain water is best of course but you could try adding slices of fruit or herbs such as mint or consider sugar-free drinks such as MiWadi 0% Sugar."
What about sweeteners? "They are a substitute for sugar in some low- or no-calorie foods and drinks, giving a sweet taste but without the added sugar or extra calories,” Keogh says.
Industry support for national healthcare
Ireland must act on the risk its population faces. Currently, 225,000 patients with diabetes, with a further 30,000 suspected to be left undiagnosed. Diabetes care is “significantly under-resourced,” says Kieran O’Leary.
There is only so much awareness-raising that charities can do alone, though. In its first two years, Diabetes Ireland’s partnership with MiWadi 0% Sugar has enabled Mr O’Leary to further develop the charity into a go-to resource for all people affected by diabetes.
The charity has been able to expand its online resources including sugar-smart food and drink recommendations, information and resources for children affected by diabetes, and it has improved its community outreach and visibility in workplaces and at public exhibitions. Mr O’Leary emphasises the importance of collaboration by saying: “Proactive partnerships are a way of helping people in a way we could never do on our own. The more support we have, the more we can do.”
This year, MiWadi has introduced a new range of 0% sugar Super Fruity tasting flavours, a fusion of delicious new flavours from real fruit*, combined with added vitamins and zinc.
*MiWadi 0% Sugar contains 10% fruit juice from concentrate as sold.
Dilute your MiWadi as per instructions of use.
In April this year Diabetes Ireland signed up for a third year of partnership with the MiWadi 0% Sugar brand (which is owned by giant Britvic Ireland Ltd).