How sugar impacts your diet and health

What sugar do to your body

Sugar and your genes

It’s no secret that too much sugar is bad for your body but if you’re looking to cut down on your sugar intake, it’s important that you know the specifics.

“Free sugar” is the most common type of sugar that you’ll find and is what the majority of us consume too much.

Free sugars can be found in:

    • Fizzy juices, candy bars, cereal, or flavoured yoghurts. Sugar which is found in products like these is typically added by the manufacturer.
    • Syrups, fruit or vegetable juices, smoothies, and honey. Although these are natural sugars, they are still considered as free sugars.

Don’t worry – sugars that you find in milk and fruits are considered as natural sugars and aren’t as bad for you as free sugars. However, these natural sugars are still taken into account in your daily sugar consumption (otherwise known as your “total sugar”).

Be aware that to many sugars in your diet can put you at risk of insulin resistance, which can contribute to the development of type 2 diabetes as well as your genetics.

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How much sugar you should consume

According to government research, to live a healthy lifestyle your daily calories should be made up of a maximum of 5% sugar – no more. To put this into perspective:

      • Adults shouldn’t consume above 30g of free sugars daily
      • Children between the ages 7 and 10 shouldn’t consume above 24g of free sugars daily
      • Children between the ages of 4 and 6 shouldn’t consume above 19g of free sugars daily

Although there has been no publicised research in regard to free sugar consumption for children below the age of 4, it’s recommended that you avoid feeding younger children any sort of foods that contain free sugars or that contain sweeteners.

You will find free sugars in cakes, chocolate bars, fizzy drinks, and biscuits – these are the types of foods that you should try to avoid if you’re cutting down on your free sugar consumption.

One can of Coca Cola, for example, contains as many as 9 sugar cubes which is way above the recommended limit for an adult. As we mentioned before, the sugars that are found in dairy products, fruit, and vegetables are natural sugars and you don’t need to cut down on these to become healthier – just be aware that they do contribute to your daily sugar consumption.

Reducing sugary drinks

Looking to kick off a healthier diet and lifestyle? Start by cutting down on your free sugars. Below we have put together some helpful tips to help you get started.

– Rather than drinking fruit juice or fizzy drinks with your meals, have a glass of water or milk instead. Although milk contains the same level of sugar, drinking milk over other drinks will significantly decrease your saturated fat consumption.

– If you’re relying heavily on smoothies and fruit juices for a healthy diet, it’s time to cut those down. Although natural, the sugars in these drinks are still a form of sugar and too much of them is bad. Limit these drinks to about 150ml each day and instead focus on changing your diet.

– Fizzy drinks are terrible for your health but if you prefer to drink those over water, try mixing together sparkling water and squash. The same delicious fizzy drink without the unhealthy ingredient of free sugar.

– Many people like to mix sugar in with their tea or coffee, and sometimes their cereal. If this sounds like you, start cutting down the amount of sugar that you add to your drinks until you’ve completely eliminated it.

Reducing sugary foods

– Jam, Nutella, marmalade – each of these can be delicious when spread on a slice of toast, but they’re full of sugar. Instead, try some sliced fruit or cream cheese.

– When you’re doing your grocery shopping take a quick look at the nutrition label on each of the products that you pick up. Specifically, look at the sugar indication and try to buy foods which have less added sugar.

– Do you enjoy cooking and baking at home? Try cutting down the amount of sugar that you add to your recipes. You don’t have to completely remove sugar from the recipe but a significant reduction will have a noticeable impact on your health.

– When pouring yourself a bowl of cereal, try throwing in some sliced fruit. This is a good idea for those who have been adding sugar to their cereals as the fruit will add some natural sweetness.

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