We all hear that sugar is bad for us. But have you ever wondered why it is bad? How much is too much? What about all the natural sugars, are they bad for you too? So I am going to try to break it down for you today.
First What Is Sugar?
Sugar isn’t just the granulated sugar that you add to your favorite cookie recipe. Or the stuff you add to your morning coffee. Scientifically, there are many types of sugars, and all sugars are types of molecules. They are basic biological molecules that our bodies use in many ways. Most common sugars are:
- sucrose (this is the sugar you think of)
To get a little bit more indepth, sugars fall under the macronutrient carbohydrates. Starches, fibers, and simple sugars are all carbohydrates. Different types of sugars digest differently. Most sugars are broken in the body into simple sugars, but the more complex, the slower it digest. So a food that has more starch will break down slower.
Difference between added sugar and natural sugar
Added sugar, like granulated or brown sugar, and high fructose corn syrup are made up of half fructose and half gulcose. In fact, if a product has added sugar, you can almost guarantee that you are getting fructose. And while some fruits and vegetables have fructose in them, they are in very small amounts. Mass production of refined sugar is when people started eating fructose in large amounts.
Most natural sugar is made up of glucose. Glucose and fructose are metabolized very different in the body. Every cell in the body can utilize glucose. But only the liver can metabolize fructose. So what happens to the liver when you overload it with fructose? It turns excess fructose to fat, which can cause fatty liver disease. High consuption of fructose has also been linked to serious health problems like:
- insulin resistance which causes type II diabetes
- Increase uric acid levels in the blood leading to gout and/or high blood pressure
- leptin resistance which contributes to obesity.
So if sugar is naturally occuring, then how can it be bad for you?
The truth is, there is a huge difference between added sugar, like granulated sugar, and natural occuring sugar. Added sugars doesn’t come with additional nutrients. Fruit and vegetables have natural occuring sugar caused by photosynthesis, which converts sunlight into sugar, which hleps them grow. But fruits and vegetables also contain a wide range of other beneficial nutrients, like fiber, vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients. They also contain soluble and insoluble fibers, which slows the release of the sugars into your bloodstream. Fiber also helps with better digestion. It has also been proven that fiber helps feed the good bacteria in your gut. So along with the natural sugar, you are getting added benefits.
Fruits are low density food. It would be hard to overeat fruit, and you would have to eat such a large amount to reach harmful levels of fructose. Our modern day diets have given sugar a bad reputation. Sugar isn’t bad for you, what kind of sugar you eat is. So the next time you have a craving for something sweet, reach for something that is sweetened in nature, and you won’t have anything to worry about.