Oh Sugar! The bittersweet truth.

Suffer from the dreaded sweet tooth? That’s right, we say “suffer” because most people see it as a curse. Sugar is often referred to as the devil, yet many fail to know that there are multiple types of sugar, and when consumed, each one has a different influence on our health. Let’s find out more.

What is sugar anyway?

When people hear the term “sugar”, they automatically think of the white crystalline substance we put in our morning coffee or used when baking a cake. But strictly speaking there are different forms of “sugars” which is by the way, simply another term for carbohydrates.

Simple sugars (monosaccharides), consist of one single sugar molecule. Glucose, Fructose and Galactose belong to the simple sugars. If you string together two monosaccharides you get disaccharides, whereto i.a. our white granulated sugar (saccharose) belongs. And finally, there are also polysaccharides, which are simply long chains of monosaccharides.

Why is this important for you to know? Because the type of sugar you consume and, of course, the amount of sugar you consume, has a direct influence on your health and your weight.

The shorter your carbohydrates chain is, the faster it gets metabolized. And we are sure you have already heard that this fast digestion causes an immediate increase of the blood sugar level, which your body tries to normalize immediately. Resulting in large amounts of insulin being released in order to decrease the blood sugar concentration straightaway. This pattern, namely the strong fluctuation of blood sugar concentration with extreme ups and downs of insulin spikes, is responsible for the fatigue after a meal and cause severe health problems in the long term (like diabetes type 2).

For this reason you should try to eat only a minimum amount of the simple carbs (which are found in large amounts in white flour, in pastries, pasta, pizza, breakfast cereals, sugary juices, honey etc.) and focus on complex carbs (from veggies and unrefined cereals).

Why excess sugar consumption makes you fat:

All carbohydrates you consume, are broken down through digestive processes into glucose molecules – the form required to produce energy. Only glucose can be stored in your liver, your muscles and your fat tissue. And here comes the important part: there is a limited storage capacity for glucose. All carbohydrates which are consumed beyond your energy requirements will be directly converted into fat and also stored as such. Therefore not only the type, but also the amount of sugar is important for your overall health.

Let’s recap:

Sugar is not all the same and therefore not all inherently bad. We use sugars as an energy source and your brain, your muscles and your kidneys depend solely on carbohydrates as a source of energy. The key to a healthy handling of sugars is to eat them in the correct form through healthy foods and, of course, in moderation.

Here are the most common sugars alternatives explained.

Take part of the discussion

  • Rob Dutch

    Thank you for finally bringing the sugar threat to the table. Most of the story is accurate. One important correction needs to be made, however: there us there is absolutely no need for the body to consume any carbohydrate. We can perfectly live without them. Thereare many inspiring examples, such as the Finnish couple rowing across the Pacific Ocean only on a very low carb and high fat diet: https://www.dietdoctor.com/across-pacific-ocean-without-sugar-junk-carbohydrates