Sugar is the generalized name for sweet, short-chain, soluble carbohydrates, many of which are used in food. The table or
granulated sugar most customarily used as food is sucrose, also available as brown sugar or raw sugar. All are refined from cane or beet. In the body, sucrose breaks down into glucose 50 percent and fructose 50 percent. Glucose is essential for our bodies and if our diet does not provide enough, our body can produce it from its fat reserves. But having too much glucose leads to insulin resistance and type II diabetes. Fructose is different and there is no physiological need for it. Fructose doesn’t cause satiety in the brain or lower the hunger hormone ghrelin nearly as much as glucose and hence leads to increased calorie intake.
Sugar contains lots of calories with no essential nutrients and is also bad for your teeth as it feeds the bad bacteria in your mouth. Added sugar is the single worst ingredient in the modern diet. It can have harmful effects on metabolism as a driver of inflammation, a potential cause of cancer.
The problem with sugar and many junk foods is that they, like abusive drugs, cause a release of dopamine in the reward center of the brain, much more than we were ever exposed to from foods found in nature. For this reason, people who have a susceptibility to addiction can become strongly addicted to sugar and other junk foods. The “everything in moderation” message may be a bad idea for people who are addicted to junk food, sugar and fructose, because the only thing that works to resolve true addiction is abstinence.
Sugar is today recognized as being incredibly addictive and detrimental to good health and hence it is definitely worth the effort to avoid sugar and understand and select healthy sweeteners for our diet.
We are today offered a very wide range of ‘Artificial’ and also so called ‘Natural’ sweeteners, as opposed to the earlier chemical or artificial sweeteners, and many new True Natural Sweeteners have also been discovered and are now becoming available.
It is important to remember that although foods containing sweeteners may be lower in sugar, they may actually be higher in other nutrients, such as fat. Examples include ‘sugar-free chocolate’ and ‘skinny ice creams’. The use of artificial sweeteners therefore does not give a green light to eat or drink a product in large quantities.