Many people associate the word “sugar” with negative health effects. From childhood, we are often warned about the perils of consuming too much sugar and the potential damage it can cause to our bodies. However, it is important to understand that not all sugar is created equal, and our bodies do need a certain amount of sugar to function optimally.
To clarify, when we talk about sugar, we are referring to both naturally occurring sugars found in fruits, vegetables, and dairy products, as well as added sugars found in processed foods and beverages. Our bodies require sugar, specifically glucose, as it is the primary source of energy that fuels our brain and muscles. Glucose is obtained through the breakdown of carbohydrates, which are found in various foods we consume daily.
It is essential to differentiate between natural sugars and added sugars because they have different effects on our body. Natural sugars are accompanied by fiber, water, and other beneficial nutrients, which help slow down the absorption of glucose into our bloodstream. This means that when we consume fruits or vegetables, the sugars are released gradually, providing a steady source of energy without causing major spikes in blood sugar levels.
On the other hand, added sugars are typically found in processed foods such as sodas, candy bars, cakes, and cookies. These sugars are often stripped of any beneficial nutrients and are quickly absorbed into our bloodstream, leading to a rapid increase in blood sugar levels. This sudden spike in glucose can be problematic as it puts stress on our pancreas to produce insulin, a hormone responsible for regulating blood sugar levels. If this cycle of spiking and crashing blood sugar levels becomes chronic, it can lead to insulin resistance, weight gain, diabetes, and other metabolic disorders.