Here we are going to discuss as simply as possible, sugar. (Please note this is just the views and all suggestions and research are fully referenced below)
To begin with, below are the different types of sugar and some basic explanations:
Glucose is a carbohydrate, and is the most important simple sugar in the metabolism of the human body. The reasoning behind why is it called a “simple sugar” or a monosaccharide is that it made up of one sugar unit. Glucose is the body preferred sugar source. This can be found in fruit and vegetables.
Fructose is commonly known as the fruit sugar. It is found in fruits and honey.
Galactose is normally found in nature, and most commonly in Milk. When glucose is added to milk, it is known as Lactose.
Below are some examples of some more complex sugars and where they can be found. Two molecules or units of sugar become a disaccharide
Lactose = Glucose + Galactose can be found in Milk and Dairy products.
Sucrose = Glucose + Fructose. Sucrose can also be found in fruits, plants and vegetables. When broken down in the body to its simplest form, sucrose becomes Fructose and Glucose.
Maltose = Glucose + Glucose Maltose. This is found in Sweet potatoes, cereals and canned fruit. Very few foods are naturally high in maltose. When starchy foods such as cereal grains, corn, potatoes, legumes, nuts and some fruits and vegetables are digested, maltose results. When you cook these foods, the maltose content increases. For example, raw sweet potatoes don’t have any maltose, but cooked sweet potatoes contain approximately 11 grams of maltose per cup.
What are Refined Carbohydrates / Sugar?
Refined carbohydrates are forms of sugars and starches that do not exist in nature. They do come from natural whole foods, but they have been altered in some way by undergoing processing to ‘refine’ them. Refined sugars usually come in the forms of crystals, syrups or powders. They are very addictive, taste sweet and can be highly addictive.
Sucrose can also be considered as a refined sugar. It is made from sugar cane and sugar beet, and is commonly known as table sugar that you add to tea and coffee and use in baking.
A number of health risks have been associated with refined sugars if consumed regularly. These are particularly detrimental to health when consumed in liquid form, as we don’t tend to compensate for the calories that we drink by reducing our calorie consumption elsewhere. The result of this can often be seen in weight gain due to overeating, along with elevated triglycerides (fat), and insulin resistance and other indicators of metabolic syndrome, which will be discussed in article three.
Refined sugars have also been found to reduced immune system efficiency through reducing the body’s capacity to fight viruses, bacteria etc. One of the most eye opening effects of sugar is that it has been found to promote cancer growth by ‘feeding’ the cancer. While it is true that cancer feeds on sugar, it actually feeds on the glucose in your blood; not necessarily the sugar you eat. While those two factors are obviously linked, it’s more important to be aware of your own blood sugar control, so that you don’t consume more sugar (or carbs in general) than you can effectively metabolize. After all, you will always have glucose in your blood as long as you’re alive, so the goal is to avoid having high blood glucose over a prolonged period of time, not to eliminate glucose entirely.
There is plenty of evidence that excess refined sugar can be harmful to health, however there is actually no evidence that small amounts of refined sugar in the context of a nutrient-dense, whole foods diet (and active lifestyle) is harmful. The problem is that limiting yourself to small amounts of sugar in a time full of products containing them, can be a difficult task.
Here is a breakdown of Sugar and its nutritional content:
|Nutrition Facts of Sugar||IS THERE ANY?|
|Calories 387||THINK ABOUT THIS?|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 0 g||0%||NONE|
|Saturated fat 0 g||0%|
|Polyunsaturated fat 0 g|
|Monounsaturated fat 0 g|
|Cholesterol 0 mg||0%|
|Sodium 1 mg||0%|
|Potassium 2 mg||0%|
|Total Carbohydrate 100 g||33%||THINK WHEN YOU ARE EATING|
|Dietary fiber 0 g||0%|
|Sugar 100 g|
|Protein 0 g||0%|
|*Per cent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs and daily activities! This also varies for male and females|
There are a number of schools of thought in relation to the nutritional value of sugar and its presence in the human diet. William Duffy argues that refined sugar is lethal when ingested by humans because it provides only that which nutritionists describe as ‘empty’ or ‘naked’ calories. It lacks the natural minerals, which are present in the healthy natural food.
Alternatively, the BBC Good Food Guide points out that it’s not all bad news. Sugar is a carbohydrate found naturally in a host of different foods from lactose in milk to the fructose in fruit and honey. In fact, we need some sugar in our diets to supply ready energy to fuel our muscles and keep our brains active. The problem is that many processed foods have added sugar which supplies energy in the form of calories – and very little else. This means our body has to draw on the nutrients from the rest of our diet to process it and this can affect our health, including our immunity – leaving us more prone to bugs and colds. A high intake of sugar causes our blood sugar levels to shoot up, giving us that feel-good ‘high’ followed by a crashing slump which leaves us tired, irritable and craving more sugary foods. It’s a vicious cycle that may be contributing to our weight problems as well as health concerns like diabetes and heart disease.
Hint: If you are going to eat sugars especially refined sugars, experts suggest that the best time to eat them is immediately after a workout. These carbs give your body a quick energy source.
The current guidelines state that ‘The maximum amount of added sugars you should eat in a day are (7): Men: 150 calories per day (37.5 grams or 9 teaspoons). Women: 100 calories per day (25 grams or 6 teaspoons)’ (World Health Organisation). However, many health experts believe this should be decreased significantly further.
Sugar and Carbohydrates. Which to choose?
Carbohydrates are one of the main types of nutrients. They are the most important source of energy for your body. Your digestive system changes carbohydrates into glucose (blood sugar and we will be discussing in further carbohydrates in a later article and blog
Carbohydrates / Foods highs in sugar and refined sugar (This is not an exhaustive list)
Carbohydrates / food low in refined sugars (not an exhaustive list)
Written by Paul Smith of UK Outdoor Fitness Limited & UK Health and Well Being Limited 2016