Oh! SUGAR YOU ARE A TASTY POISON

Tempting desserts which people can’t resist and on top of that the offers we get of extra quantity is cherry on the cake. In fact not only desserts many other food products consists of invisible sugar. Sugar is highly addictive, horribly devitalizing, unfortunately omnipresent, and delicious. All of us are aware that sugar is harmful for us but to what extent will be described in this blog.

People have so many questions in their mind regarding sugar intake like :-

  • Despite being non diabetic is sugar still bad for you?
  • Fruit has sugar! Is fruit bad for you?
  • Are certain kinds of sugar better or worse for you?

Well, I will be answering them in this blog. Let’s begin with different forms of sugar.There are different forms of sugar, starting with simple sugars (called monosaccarides) like glucose, fructose, and galactose. Then there are also more complex forms (called  disaccharides) like sucrose, maltose, and lactose.

  1. Glucose–  It naturally occurs  in plants and fruits. Our bodies can utilize glucose as energy or can convert it into glycogen (essentially: liver and muscle fuel). Our bodies can actually produce glucose when needed.
  2. Fructose-  It is present in fruits. It also occurs naturally in sugarcane sugar and honey, and is incredibly sweet.
  3. Sucrose- It is found in the stems of sugar cane, that can be found naturally alongside glucose in certain fruits and other plants.
  4. Lactose- It is a form of sugar found in milk.

Are we aware of the hidden sugars present in food? Let me put a light on this part as well by listings those food items which contain hidden sugar :-

  1. Ketchup And Sauces– Try to be mindful of your portion size when consuming ketchup and remember that a single tablespoon of ketchup contains 1 teaspoon of sugar. Any kind of sauce contains added sugar for balancing out it’s flavor.
  2. Low Fat Yoghurt- Like many other low fat food products, low fat yoghurt contains added sugar to enhance it’s flavor. It’s better to choose either full-fat or Greek yogurt. Avoid yogurt that has been sweetened with sugar.
  3. Fruit Juice- I agree that fruits contain vitamins and minerals but fruit juices are low in fiber and high on sugar. It’s best to choose whole fruits over fruit juices.
  4. Sports Drinks- These can be often mistaken for healthy drinks but they are designed specifically for athletes to hydrate them during intense periods of exercise. For this reason, they contain high amount of sugar that can be quickly absorbed and used for energy. Unless you are an athlete, you must not opt for sports drinks, keep yourself hydrated with water during exercise.
  5. Chips- Yes, chips contain a good amount of sugar to balance out the taste, try to cut them out from your diet as they have high amount of salt, sugar and fat as well.
  6. Iced Tea- It is available in various flavors, but they are usually sweetened with sugar which is actually not required. Therefore whenever you want to have tea go for either regular tea or iced tea which doesn’t contain added sugar in it.
  7. Protein/ Energy Bars- Protein bars are popular as they increase the satiety value but they which can help in weight loss. The con of this bar is that it contains a good amount of added sugar. Always read label before purchasing energy bar.
  8. Soup- We hardly associate soup with sugar but commercially packed soups consists of lots of ingredients in which added sugar is also there. To check for added sugars in your soup, look at the ingredients list for things like sucrose, high fructose corn syrup, barley malt, dextrose, maltose and other syrups. if it’s the first ingredient mentioned on the product, the higher its content will be. See manufacturer’s list small amounts of different sugars, as that’s another sign the product could be high in total sugar.

Added sugar is not an essential nutrient in your diet hence try to avoid them. One can have them in small quantity but not that frequently. Best way to avoid consuming hidden sugar is to cook food at home as you will know what all it contains.

Now you must be wondering fruits also contain sugar what about them?

Fruits do contain sugar in the form of fructose (in it’s natural state) but they are also a good source of vitamins, minerals, fiber and antioxidants. Generally fruit will cause less of a blood sugar spike as compared to nutrient void table sugar or high fructose corn syrup. Try to avoid fruits having high glycemic index/load to avoid sugar spikes.

Let’s talk about different types of sugar

There are 5 different types of sugar which are listed below :-

Types of Sugar
  1. White Granulated Sugar- It is the pure form of sugar extracted from sugar cane. It’s 99.9 per cent sucrose, refined from the natural sugars that occur in the sugar cane but with all ‘impurities’ such as mineral ash and polyphenols completely removed.
  2. Caster Sugar- It has the same composition as granulated sugar but the size is small so that it gets dissolved easily.
  3. Icing Sugar- It is a powdered form of white sugar.
  4. Raw Sugar- It is made from sugar cane juice and is yellow in color. Nutrition wise, it is virtually identical to white sugar, has 99% of sucrose, few minerals but not enough to give a great health advantage over white sugar.
  5. Brown Sugar- It contains 95 per cent sucrose and 5 per cent molasses, which adds a lovely toffee flavor and moistness but doesn’t add great nutritional benefits over white sugar.

Sugar is sugar whether white, brown or raw. Nutritional value of different types of sugar is similar despite of their different colors and flavors. They are all sources of sucrose /glucose/ fructose/ combinations of these three but lack vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Therefore, one must limit consumption of sugar and added sugar.

You don’t need to avoid sugar completely for good health, but it’s sensible to cut back on foods that are correspondingly low in nutrition and easy to overeat – soft drinks, pastries or sweets, for example.

Adverse effects of sugar

Rising obesity levels and prevalence of Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus are major concerns in the healthcare section caused by excess sugar intake. Here is why you must address your sugar habits :-

  1. It might lead to Diabetes– There are two main types of diabetes – Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes.

With Type 2 diabetes, though we know sugar doesn’t directly cause Type 2 diabetes, you are more likely to get it if you are overweight. You gain weight when you take in more calories than your body needs, and sugary foods and drinks contain a lot of calories.

So you can see if too much sugar is making you put on weight, then you are increasing your risk of getting Type 2 diabetes. But Type 2 diabetes is complex, and sugar is unlikely to be the only reason the condition develops.

  1. It Can lead to heart disease- Chronically high insulin levels cause the muscle cells around each blood vessel in arteries to grow faster than normal, leading to high blood pressure. Evidence suggests that high-sugar diets can lead to obesity, inflammation and high triglyceride, blood sugar and blood pressure levels — all risk factors for heart disease.
  2. Can lead to fatty liver- A diet high in sugar, and fructose, a common sugar-like food additive, triggers your liver to store fat, which can lead to non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.
  3. Can lead to depression- Consuming a lot of processed foods, including high-sugar products such as cakes and sugary drinks, has been associated with a higher risk of depression.
  4. Can cause weight gain- Consuming too much added sugar, especially from sugary beverages, increases risk of weight gain and can lead to visceral fat accumulation.
  5. May increase your risk of cancer- Consuming excessive amount of sugar can cause weight gain which significantly raises your risk of cancer. Furthermore, diets high in sugar increase inflammation in your body and may cause insulin resistance, both of which increase cancer risk.
  6. Might accelerate the skin aging process- Wrinkles are a natural sign of aging. However, poor food choices can worsen wrinkles and speed the skin aging process. Advanced glycation end products (AGEs) are compounds formed by reactions between sugar and protein in your body. They are suspected to play a key role in skin aging. Consuming a diet high in refined carbohydrates and sugar leads to the production of AGEs, which may cause your skin to age prematurely.
  7. Drains your energy- Food products that are loaded with sugar but lacking in protein, fiber or fat lead to a brief energy boost that’s quickly followed by a sharp drop in blood sugar. Having constant blood sugar swings can lead to major fluctuations in energy levels.
  8. Negatively impact dental health- Eating too much sugar can cause cavities. Bacteria in your mouth feed on sugar and release acid byproducts, which cause tooth demineralization.

Always remain healthy by being cautious about your diet and never be a big sugar guy!

Author

Dt Garima Kapoor
Dt. Garima Kapoor, Dietitian