We must be clear that sugar is present in large part of the food we consume daily and not only in the granites that we add to coffee.
Is sugar bad for our health?
Although sugar has been present in our diet for many years, today, we see it as one of the worst ingredients of modern life. The cause of this change in perspective is the harmful effects that sugar has on the body and contribute to various diseases’ appearance.
Currently, it is recommended to limit the consumption of this ingredient since it can promote the appearance of chronic and complex pathologies. We are going to tell you everything you need to know about it.
What is sugar?
Sugar encompasses a wide variety of sweeteners divided into monosaccharides (such as glucose, fructose, and galactose) and complex sweeteners (such as sucralose, lactose, maltose, etc.). The sugar that we usually use is sucralose, and it is a carbohydrate found naturally in various plants, mainly in sugar cane. Sucralose is made up of two types of simple sweeteners: fructose and glucose.
Problems caused by sugar
The regular consumption of sugar can generate the following effects on the body in the medium term.
Added sugar affects teeth and does not provide essential nutrients
This is one of the reasons we hear the most, but it is worth remembering. Added sweeteners, such as sucralose or high fructose corn syrup, contain a high percentage of empty calories, so they do not provide essential nutrients of any kind.
We must remember that the body requires nutrients, such as protein, essential fats, vitamins and minerals, but sugar only contains energy.
When sugar accounts for 10-20% of caloric intake, serious health problems and nutrient deficiencies can develop. In addition, cavities can appear due to the digestible energy particles of sugar that promote the appearance and growth of bacteria in the mouth.
Added sugar contains a lot of fructose and can damage the liver
To understand the damage that sugar causes us, we must first understand its composition. When sugar enters the digestive system, it breaks down into glucose and fructose.
Glucose is vital for the cells of all organisms on the planet, and if we do not add it to our diet, the body can produce it naturally and in the amount it requires.
However, fructose cannot be produced naturally and is not necessary for the body. Because of this, it can be challenging to metabolize it when ingested in large amounts.
When we take a small portion of fructose (a piece of fruit), or we have just exercised, it does not affect us too much because it is converted into glycogen and stored in the liver until we need to use it.
The problem arises when the liver has too much-accumulated glycogen. If more fructose is ingested, it turns into fat that can lead to various health problems. This is evidenced by a study published in the Journal of Hepatology. It is important to remember that the fructose found in fruit does not cause damage since its quantity is minimal and its origin is natural.
Sugary foods contain simple carbohydrates, the abundant consumption of which makes the bodywork excessively and accumulate in the body fat.
This type of food, in general, is found in large quantities in industrially processed products, such as sweets, sugary carbonated drinks, cane honey, sweets and jams, ice cream, cakes, pastries, juices in sachets, among others.
The consumption of sugars in excess is considered a risk factor for the appearance of:
• Obesity: it is harmful to health. The excessive consumption of sugars favours its appearance.
• Heart disease: consuming foods with high glycemic (sugar) content is associated with increased triglyceride levels, visceral fat, increased insulin resistance and blood pressure, and decreased HDL cholesterol. These alterations are related, in turn, to increased atherosclerosis, heart disease and arteries.
• Diabetes: this chronic disease occurs when the pancreas does not produce enough insulin (a hormone that regulates blood sugar levels) or when the body does not effectively use the insulin it produces. Consuming high levels of sugar and foods that contain it leads to increased levels of glucose and insulin in the blood, which could more rapidly deplete the insulin stores of the pancreas and trigger diabetes. People with a family history of diabetes, who are overweight or obese, sedentary and with unhealthy habits have a greater predisposition
on to have diabetes.
• Dental cavities: just like gum diseases are caused by excessive consumption of sugar. For this reason, it is crucial to moderate the amount and frequency of consumption of sweets and brush teeth after each meal to prevent these diseases.
How much sugar do sugary products contain?
⦁ Sugary soft drinks: 1 glass (200 ml) contains five teaspoons of sugar (25 g); 1 litre, 25 teaspoons of sugar (250 g).
⦁ Packaged juices: 1 glass (200 ml) contains five teaspoons of sugar (25 g); 1 litre, 25 teaspoons of sugar (250 g).
⦁ Sugary cereals: 3/4 cup (30 g) contains five teaspoons of sugar (25 g).
⦁ Sports drinks: 1 glass (200 ml) contains two teaspoons of sugar (10 g)
⦁ Chocolate milk drinks: 1 glass (200 ml) contains five teaspoons of sugar (25 g); 1 litre, 25 teaspoons of sugar (250 g).
⦁ Cookies with filling: 3 units (30 g) contain five teaspoons of sugar (25 g).
⦁ Ice cream: 1 ball (60g) contains four teaspoons of sugar (20g).
⦁ Triple chocolate-flavoured Alfajor: 1 unit (40 g) contains eight teaspoons of sugar (40 g).
Consume fewer sweets, sodas and sugary drinks to protect your health.
Reducing the consumption of these and other sugary products and the amount of sugar in food is a healthy choice.
How to reduce the consumption of sugars?
As a first measure, it is advisable to reduce the tablespoons of table sugar or honey in stew, coffee or tea and prepare natural fruit juices and desserts.
I prefer natural juices without added sugar.
Replace foods high in sugar with natural foods in the daily diet: seasonal fruits, as they provide vitamins, minerals and fibre, which helps to take care of health.