A spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down. But does the sugar we eat also contribute to our requirement for medication?

The sugar industry would have us believe sugar does not contribute to diabetes, heart disease, obesity, hypoglycaemia or nutrient deficiencies.

I'd like to believe them but I don't.

Sucrose is an essential natural substance. Green plants absorb water and carbon dioxide and use sunlight to generate sugar, which provides the energy needed for life.

Sugar cane and beet contain sugar in its most accessible form and are refined into a commodity that sweetens up our daily drabness.

No longer just a source of fuel, sugar has become the equivalent of an addictive drug.

We abuse it when needed and, as our intake of sugar and refined carbohydrates has increased, so have all the above-mentioned diseases. Coincidence?

In the UK, the average intake of sugar is now around two pounds perperson, per week, although some people eat much more.

Sugar, like other refined carbohydrates is "fast-releasing" it provides a sudden burst of energy, followed by a slump and the desire for another sugar fix.

Nutritionists worry that the perpetual use of fast releasing starches upsets the hormonal status quo and leads to mood and energy swings , obesity , poor immunity, fatigue, fungal infections and other unpleasant symptoms.

The roots of serious degenerative diseases can also often be traced to chronic high-sugar consumption.

We can't even escape the sugar trap by choosing honey, molasses or maple syrup.

These are highglycaemic and still provide a concentrated form of sweetness which has similar effects on the body.

Artificial sweeteners contain the potentially harmful substances aspartame and saccharin, as well as malto-dextrins and dextrose which affect insulin levels and may encourage weight-gain.

To wake up from a sugarinduced lethargic stupor, stay clear of overly-refined and processed foods.

Slow-releasing foods provide sustained energy (fresh fruit and vegetables, beans, pulses, nuts, seeds and wholegrains) so you are less likely to crave and binge.

Also include small amounts of lean protein, essential fats and added nutrients to support glucose management.

Exercise and the avoidance of sugar, stimulants and stress are important, too.

Can't satisfy your inner sweet tooth, no matter how hard you try? Don't despair there is a viable alternative.

SlimSweet is an all- natural sweetener, derived from a fruit of the kiwi family, from southern China.

It is a very low-glycaemic fructose with zero calories, which does not significantly elevate insulin or blood sugar levels, or stimulate fat storage.

SlimSweet tastes like sugar but is sweeter, so only tiny amounts are needed.

It is available in 80g tubs, each containing 160 servings.