Reduce Added Sugar for Better Gut Health

by Ashleigh Feltham,  Accredited Practising Dietitian and Accredited Nutritionist

Everything you eat and drink impacts the health of your gut and microbiome. Food technology is always evolving, and the food industry continually develops new products. These products are formulated to taste as delicious as possible to make you want to buy more. One way they do this is with added sugar.

The number of products with high levels of sugar is growing and the side effects are more than just a broader waistline and higher blood sugar levels. Added sugar also negatively impacts the health of your gut microbiome.

High blood sugar and overconsumption of added sugars has a negative effect on the gut barrier. Excess sugar reduces the ability of the gut barrier to properly transport or restrict the different molecules that enter the gut. This negatively affects the gut microbiome and the ability of the immune system to function optimally.

added sugar

For optimal health, the World Health Organization recommends no more than ten per cent of your daily intake and no more than five per cent of your total energy consisting of added sugars.

When doing your weekly grocery shop, try these strategies to help reduce the amount of added sugar in your cupboard.

  1. Select mostly whole foods like vegetables, fruit, lean meats and alternatives, and wholegrains.
  2. Look for the nutrition panel and compare like-products. Aim for foods with less than ten grams of added sugar per 100 grams and no more 15 grams of added sugar per 100 grams. You will find the amount of added sugar per 100 grams below the total carbohydrates in the panel.

For a healthier gut, feed your gut microbiome. An adult requires between 25 and 38 grams of dietary fibre each day for good health. In Australia, more than 50% of children and 70% of adults are not meeting their adequate intake of dietary fibre. Inulin, a highly fermentable prebiotic fibre, is a prebiotic fibre that gut microbes love.

Take home message:

For a healthy body, you need a healthy gut microbiome. Select foods with no or little added sugar, and feed your gut with adequate fibre in the form of inulin. This helps with maintaining a healthy body weight, stabilising blood sugar levels and ensuring a healthy gut microbiome.



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  2. Fayet-Moore F, Cassettari T, Tuck K, McConnell A, Petocz P. Dietary Fibre Intake in Australia. Paper I: Associations with Demographic, Socio-Economic, and Anthropometric Factors. Nutrients. 2018;10(5):599. Published 2018 May 11. doi:10.3390/nu10050599