It’s not all bad news – a little sugar is fine.
You may have already heard that sugar is bad for your gut because it feeds the ‘bad’ bacteria that can cause digestive issues. Well, the good news is that’s not the whole picture. Dietitian Dr Sarah Schenker explains:
- It’s all about moderation: ‘In fact, sugar is mostly absorbed by our body before it reaches our gut bacteria – as long as we don’t eat too much. So a moderate amount of sugar is unlikely to cause you any significant digestive issues. Try to limit added sugar to around 7tsp per day and remember it can be found in sauces, bread and drinks as well as cakes and puddings.
- Watch the alternatives: ‘It’s not necessarily better to reach for sugar alternatives. More research is needed but some studies have shown that, when eaten in excess, certain types of artificial sweeteners can negatively impact gut health - so they still need to be used sparingly. And while other studies have shown honey and maple syrup to have some benefits for gut health - the breakdown of sugar in them is broadly similar to white sugar, so they also need to be eaten in moderation.
- How do you take your sugar? ‘Highly processed foods such as cakes and biscuits, can be high in fat as well as sugar and it’s the fat content that’s often the trigger for digestive issues rather than sugar itself.
- Track your symptoms: ‘If you think sugar might be triggering digestive issues, the best way to establish how much and which type of sugars your gut can manage is by keeping a track of your symptoms.’