Hej and welcome back! Just yesterday I have been talking to someone about sugar and there’s a lot of confusing and conflicting information about how sugar can and should factor into the diet.
For example, are some types of sugar healthier than others? Should all sugars, including fruit, be avoided? Will eliminating sugar help you lose weight, clear up your acne, or alleviate your sleep troubles?
So I hope this weeks blog post will give you some clarity and is helpful! Please enjoy reading:
In their simplest form, sugars are carbohydrates composed of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen. There are three main types of sugars: monosaccharides, disaccharides, and polysaccharides.
Monosaccharides are simple sugars. They include glucose (also known as dextrose), fructose, andgalactose. These sugars are the building blocks for more complex carbohydrates and occur naturally in fruits, vegetables, and dairy.
Disaccharides are made up of two monosaccharides joined together. They include sucrose (glucose and fructose), maltose (glucose and glucose), and lactose (glucose and galactose). These sugars can be found in foods like table sugar, beer, and milk.
Polysaccharides are made up of long chains of connecting monosaccharides. These are often referred to as complex carbohydrates and appear in a wide variety of foods, including whole grains, starchy vegetables, and legumes.
Sugar and Digestion
While the process begins in the mouth, the majority of sugar digestion happens in the intestine. When you eat a monosaccharide, your body can use it for energy almost immediately by absorbing it into the bloodstream. When you eat a disaccharide or polysaccharide, which are more complex, your body must break them down into monosaccharides (usually glucose) before using them for energy.
Once in the bloodstream, glucose can either be used immediately or stored in the body for later. If stored, the liver combines glucose molecules, creating a larger structure that can be broken down easily when energy is needed. If the liver already has enough stored energy, the sugar gets converted to fat for long-term storage.
Continually elevated blood sugar levels may contribute to weight gain, metabolic syndrome, and type 2 diabetes. It can also damage a variety of body organs and systems.
Sugar and Health
In today’s world, sugar is abundantly available from many sources. However, we are still programmed to seek it out, which means that many of us eat more than we need to survive and thrive.
While some sugar in the diet helps our bodies move quickly and can help us stay alert, too much sugar can spike blood sugar and lead to crashes. This spike and crash pattern may contribute to larger health problems, including obesity and heart disease.
Repeated excessive sugar intake can affect health in many ways, including:
- Increased likelihood of memory deficits and risk of Alzheimer’s disease
- Increased blood pressure and triglycerides, which may causecardiovascular disease
- Increased likelihood of dental caries
- Increased risk of asthma
- Distorting the hunger and satiety hormones, causing overeating and increased risk of obesity
- Potential insulin resistance and possibly higher risk of type 2 diabetes
- Disrupting the gut microbiome and negatively impairing immunity
- Promoting inflammation, the underlying cause of many chronic diseases
- Replacing nutrient-dense calories, possibly leading to vitamin deficiencies, even if caloric needs are being met or exceeded
Natural vs. added sugar
Natural sugars exist in fruits and vegetables and typically increase as they ripen. Though you are consuming sugar, you’re also consuming vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber, which, in particular, can help reduce the glucose spike associated with eating sugar.
Sugar is sometimes added to foods and beverages during processing. Foods with added sugar tend to be higher in calories and lower in nutritional value, and they don’t usually offer the additional vitamins, minerals, and fiber that foods with natural sugars offer.
Fiber makes us feel fuller for longer because it’s a more difficult molecule to digest (if our bodies can digest it at all). Without fiber to signal fullness, foods that contain added sugars are more likely to be consumed in excess.
Additionally, these foods are often packaged as snacks or desserts, so they are more likely to be consumed on their own, possibly leading to a more significant spike in blood glucose levels.
Sugar in the wild
Some people believe we should consume little to no sugar, while others believe our bodies need carbohydrates to perform the millions of daily functions required to sustain life. Some people believe that the source of the sugar doesn’t matter because our bodies break it down into glucose either way, while others believe that only naturally occurring sugar is okay. As with other eating approaches, sugar consumption is bio-individual. Still, staying mindful of your intake can be an important aspect of preventing inflammation and disease.
- Sugars: brown sugar, cane sugar, confectioner’s sugar, raw sugar
- Syrups: cane syrup, date syrup, high-fructose corn syrup, malt syrup,maple syrup, refiner’s syrup, rice syrup
- –Oses: dextrose, fructose, galactose, glucose, lactose, maltose, ribose, saccharose, sucrose
- –Ides: disaccharide, monosaccharide, polysaccharide
- Natural sugars: agave, coconut nectar, coconut sugar, date sugar, evaporated cane juice, fruit juice, honey, maple syrup, molasses, monk fruit extract, rice malt, sorghum, stevia, treacle
- Artificial sweeteners: aspartame (Equal), saccharin (Sweet’n Low), stevia (Truvia), sucralose (Splenda)
- Sugar alcohols: erythritol, glycerol, sorbitol, xylitol
I hope you found this blog post helpful! Leave me a comment below – I would love to hear from you.
Now you know what to do but the HOW is the most important isn’t it? And that’s exactly what I do as a Health Coach: I don’t tell you what to do but I help you to find out what works for you and how to get there. Leave me your comment below or simply book a free consultation with me. Hope you enjoyed reading!
As a Health Coach, I am mentoring my clients to create and maintain long-term lifestyle changes to enhance their overall quality of life. In addition to supporting clients with specific goals, I empower my clients to choose health-promoting behaviors that work for them. I raise awareness and offer support as clients move in their own bio-individual ways toward the greater health they want for themselves. My coaching hopefully leads to long-term behavior change, but only because I help my clients do the meaningful work that forms a strong foundation.
How can I help you? Are there any changes you wish for yourself? Is your health the best it could be? You can book your free consultation with me now: