What’s wrong with sugar?

It’s the question becoming more and more common in society as we seek to find ways to better health, less pain, better performance, improved weight, more energy and a diet that is appealing.

 

What is sugar?

But first we need to understand what sugar is. Sugar is a naturally occurring substance produced by all plants and vegetables and is used by the body to create energy. Sugar is the common name for cabohydrates.

 

What are the problems with sugar?

Glucose and sucrose are very easily digested and absorbed by the body resulting in a quick increase in blood sugar. High blood sugar or hyperglycaemia can cause a host of problems for the body including:

  • Increased risk of clots due to the blood becoming more sticky
  • Cardiovascular disease due to pressure on the heart
  • Hypertension (increased blood pressure)
  • Damage to blood vessels
  • Increased systemic inflammation
  • Blurred vision
  • Confusion
  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Increased temperature
  • Increased urination which can long term affect kidney function

Fructose is a lot harder for the body to digest and is taken to the liver for processing. Here it is converted to fat and can be stored by the liver or released into the blood stream.

 

Ongoing high frustose levels can cause:

  • Fatty liver disease
  • Systemic inflammation
  • Insulin resistance
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Obesity

What are the different types of sugar?

Sucrose – a disaccharide is made up of two simple sugars, one of fructose and one of glucose

Glucose – is a monosaccharide, a simple sugar, that is more easily absorbed into the bloodstream sand utilised as energy by the skeletal muscles

Fructose – is also a monasacharide that is processed in the liver and turned into fat before being stored.

Lactose – a disaccharide made up of one glucose and galactose found in dairy. Some people are lactose intolerant and can have severe reactions to dairy consumption.

Maltose – a disaccharide made up of two glucose molecules and is the biproduct of starch being broken down.

 

Are there any sugars that are better for us?

Well that’s a loaded question. It would be nice if we could find a sweet thing that first didn’t cause our body harm and second actually was good for us. Alas no.
All sugars have pros and cons. The best type of sugar is glucose as it creates the least amount of problems however it is still not ideal in large quantities.

The best version of sugars are those naturally produced that are not refined. Here’s a list of best to worst:

  1. Stevia
  2. Honey (preferably raw honey)
  3. Pure maple syrup
  4. Coconut sugar
  5. Raw can sugar
  6. Agave
  7. Brown sugar
  8. Granulated white sugar

 

Now this is a list of best to worst but is important to note that it doesn’t mean go nuts on stevia and honey. They are still largely sugar and will create problems if consumed in large or even moderate quantities

 

What are some alternatives to sugar?

  • Stevia
  • Honey (preferably raw honey)
  • Pure maple syrup
  • Coconut sugar
  • Agave

 

But remember these still get converted to sugar so high amounts in your diet will have the same effects as eating a high sugar diet.

 

What is the difference between high a low glycemic index foods?

High glycemic index foods essentially have more sugars that are absorbed easily and quickly end up in your blood stream leading to hypoglycaemia or high blood sugar.

Low glycaemic index foods have lower amounts of carbohydrate or they are more complex to digest and so a slower feed of sugar goes into the bloodstream. This leads to a more moderate blood sugar level than high glycaemic index foods create. Definitely low glycaemic index foods are the best option. But remember some still contain large amounts of sugar.

 

Is fruit the same as sugar?


In context yes. If you are consuming large quantities of fruit and/ or high glycemic index fruits then effectively you are consuming lots of sugar and a large amount of that is fructose. As we know this can lead to complications. Fruits are definitely better than refined sugars as they have fibre. Fibre helps to slow the absorption rate of sugar and hence reduces the blood sugar issue, but it does not eliminate it.

 

So fruits ok if consumed in reasonable amounts and definitely low glycemic index fruits and in fact low glycemic index foods.

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