Sugar – Should we eliminate it from our diet?

Posted on June 29, 2017 by Fiona Chia

Sugar
  • We need sugar!
  • Added sugar = extra calories with no nutrients
  • Excess sugar = Diabetes
  • Continue reading to find out more!

Sugar in all forms is a simple carbohydrate that the body converts to glucose and use for energy. However, they affect the body in different ways. The effect of sugar on the body and overall health depends on the type of sugar consumed. We need sugars in our diet to supply us with readily available energy to fuel our muscles and keep our brain active. The problem is that many processed foods have added sugar, which gives us energy in the form of calories but no additional nutrients – also known as empty calories.

When we consume sugar, our body has two options to deal with it. One is to burn it for energy, which is the most ideal, but most of the time it gets converted to fats to store into fat cells – especially in excess. A high intake of sugar can cause our blood sugar level to shoot up rapidly, giving us the feel-good ‘high’ followed by a sudden plunge, which leaves us to feel tired, irritable and crave more sugary foods. It is a vicious cycle that contributes not only to weight problems but also health concerns like diabetes and heart diseases.

When we have too much sugar in our bloodstream, it signals our pancreas to release a hormone called insulin to deal with all the excess. Insulin helps to regulate the level of sugar in our blood by allowing glucose to be absorbed by cells. The more sugar there is in the bloodstream, the more insulin needed to be released. This adds an extra burden to insulin – it may stop working as it should and cells may become resistant to it. This is also known as DIABETES.

Foods that have surprisingly high sugar content are actually low-fat foods. Normally perceived to be healthier, usually contain more sugar than its standard equivalent. Food companies make their ‘healthier’ options more palatable by replacing fat with sugar. Fat-free salad dressings are often laden with sugar because; in order keep the flavors after eliminating the fats, food manufacturers primarily use salt and sugar. Similarly for tomato sauce and barbecue sauce because they are not only high in sodium but also high in sugar. Multi-grain cereals and energy bars may offer health benefits but are also culprits of containing high amounts of sugar.

There are several substitutes you can use instead of sugar to give flavor to your foods. Instead of adding table sugar, use natural spices or herbs flavoring. Spices such as cinnamon and nutmeg will naturally sweeten the food and reduce cravings. We can also use fruits as a natural sweetener! Instead of getting fruit yoghurt – which may have used fruits concentrate high in sugar, mash in your own fruits to sweeten and give flavors to the food.

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