11/08/2015

Sugar, Friend or Foe?




I knew this would be a tough subject to write about but I wasn't truly prepared for how complex the world of sugar really is. So I took this question the public forums, hoping to narrow down my topic with common misconceptions:
Why is added sugar bad and what do you recommend as the best sweetener/s?

I found it interesting that the word sweetener was automatically assumed to mean artificial sugar substitute rather than the natural flavour substitute I was implying (my poor choice of wording obviously.) Apart from that, the responses I got seemed to support what I had suspected, the anti sugar movement has most people confused.

Our bodies NEED sugar
Glucose is the source of energy for all of our body functions, especially the brain. The only energy the brain can use is from glucose. Glucose is also the primary source of energy for muscles.
Glucose is the most important simple sugar and is metabolised by almost every cell in our bodies.

Sugar is an additive
This could not be further from the truth.
Sugars are naturally occurring in fruits, vegetables and grains. Yes, carbohydrates are sugars.

Sugar is sugar
This is where so much of the confusion lies. Sugars are NOT created equal and different sugars are metabolised differently.

Glucose (or dextrose), as mentioned earlier, is metabolised by almost every cell in the body, it is our main source of energy.

Fructose is metabolised only by the liver and does not trigger insulin release so it is not regulated by our bodies. Fructose also fails to deliver any appetite satisfaction, leading to potential overeating and excessive fat storage.

Sucrose (table sugar in its refined state) is the naturally occurring sugar in cane, beets, fruit and vegetables and is made up of a combination of both glucose and fructose.

So what the hell does this mean?
It would be easy to assume, based on my simple explanations, that fructose is an enemy of the body and should be avoided at all costs, right? But, that would mean an apple a day does not keep the doctor away???

Put simply and without any added explanation, (because there are no consistent study results to support any of the theories at this time) the fructose in fruits and vegetables is metabolised differently to a fructose additive due to the presence of dietary fibre and/or proteins so it is believed not to be detrimental to your health when consuming the recommended daily intake outlined by Nutrition Australia (which is similar to the CDC guidelines if you're in the US).
This belief also supports any and every claim that fresh fruits and vegetables are good for you.

Is sugar bad?
The short answer must be no with a great big BUT.....
Your basic white sugar is sucrose, is essentially the same substance found in fruits and vegetables. The difference is the extra nutrients that are not present in refined sugar alone.
The confusion, overall, comes from over simplifying the facts of an extremely complex subject and the resulting contradictions. ie; sugar is bad but we need it? Fructose is bad but is present in almost all fruits and vegetables?


If you want my opinion, (I'm giving it anyway) Other animals eat to live but humans live to eat.
Sugar is not the enemy, it is our overindulgence that is the problem.

Over the coming weeks, I will be delving into the world of packaged and refined sugars. Which sugars are the best? The answers may surprise you! Hit the subscribe or follow buttons so you don't miss it.

Did you enjoy this article? Do you agree? Think I'm wrong?
Go on, tell me what you think.

The Sugar Files continue:
Part Two - Coconut Sugar
Part Three - Sugar isn't Sugar
Part Four- Rice Malt Syrup