It’s R U OK Day tomorrow, Thursday 10 September, the national day of action for people to check in with their peers, family and friends to see if they’re ok.
Twenty per cent of Australians aged 16-85 experience a mental illness in any year, and almost half (45) Australians will experience a mental illness in their lifetime – however, excessive sugar consumption and its impact on mental health is often overlooked.
Multiple studies show sugar can lead to depression and other mental health issues, and given the growing body of scientific evidence, Keira Rumble, certified nutrition expert and owner of Krumbled Foods, is calling upon the Food Standards Australia New Zealand for more transparency when it comes to sugars in food packaging and labelling.
Keira, who is passionate about the danger of hidden sugars after becoming addicted to it in her early 20s, says, “The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends we should limit our added sugar intake to just six teaspoons per day, but the average Australian consumes between 14-16 teaspoons of added sugars a day.
“Overconsumption of sugar triggers imbalances in certain brain chemicals, which can lead to depression, anxiety, feeling lethargic, addiction, weight gain, heart issues, headaches and energy fluctuations.
“It can even increase the long-term risk of developing a mental health disorder and schizophrenia in some people.
“Unfortunately, many sugars are hidden, and food packaging and labelling is misleading. It’s time to change the packaging and labelling so that everyone knows exactly what they are eating.”
When an injury cut short Keira’s professional skiing career she put on weight, became insulin resistant, was on her way to becoming diabetic and struggling with her mental health. She realised that the healthy snack bars and protein bars she was turning to after her diagnosis were, in fact, loaded with hidden sugars.
In the end, she decided to make her own, resulting in Beauty Bites – Australia’s first fully functional collagen bars, low in sugar, designed to support skin, nail, hair and gut health from the inside out.
“Sugar spikes your insulin, but it's that crash that you really don't want as it can lead to energy fluctuations, poor mood, weight gain, heart issues and headaches,” she says.
“Sugar can also impair the body's metabolic function, breaking down collagen and elastin in the skin, which can lead to inflammation breakouts and acne, but most people don’t realise how much sugar they’re consuming.
“If a product label says 25 per cent less sugar, it doesn't actually mean there is a small amount of sugar in it – it just means that it's less sugar than another product or what the product previously contained.
“Food labelled ‘all natural’, is also often high in sugar. Beauty Bites only have 2.8 grams of sugar per serve, but
some snacks and bars can have up to 36 per cent, or 18g of sugar. That’s equivalent to nearly four teaspoons sugar – and there are 39 grams in a can of Coca Cola!
“It’s time food labelling and packaging was more transparent.”
Keira’s Five Hacks To Be Aware Of When Buying ‘Healthy’ Snacks:
1) Be cautious of your sugar content!
2) Look out for hidden/natural sugars like dates, coconut sugar etc.
3) If you are buying a protein bar or snack bar, look at the back of the label in the nutritional panel. You want more protein than sugar.
4) Look out for claims like ‘25% less sugar’* – this doesn’t necessarily mean that there is less sugar in it and it is reformulated.
5) Look at the amounts per serve! There are some “healthier” chocolate blocks out there, but you can easily eat the entire block in one sitting, when in fact, the recommended amount may be 1-2 squares.
6) The most important thing is to not stress and don’t be overwhelmed. If you are trying to make a conscious decision to reduce your sugar intake, take a little bit longer reading what exactly is in the product and keep an eye on the sugar content before you buy it!
Certified nutrition expert Keira, 29, recently launched Beauty Bites, Australia's first and only collagen bars to combine 5 illuminating and age-defying ingredients designed to help support glowing skin, healthy hair, stronger nails and gut health. Unlike many other protein bars, which can contain as much sugar as two cinnamon donuts, Beauty Bites, loved by the likes of Ricky Lee Coulter and Olympic World Hurdler champion Sally Pearson, are low in sugar and taken in a convenient, single daily dose to help people look and feel beautiful from the inside out.