Sugar- Don’t you love it?
Sugar has been in the bad books for quite some time and with increasing awareness of maintaining a good health and staying fit, more people keep sugar at bay. However, this brings us to several questions like: –
Is sugar really bad?
Is sugar dangerous?
Is sugar a culprit?
Is sugar the major cause of Type 2 diabetes?
So, before we discuss these questions at length, let us first understand the operating mechanism of our body. The food that we eat converts to glucose when it gets digested. This glucose acts a fuel for our body and helps us in our daily functioning. Further, we must understand that sugar is present naturally in all foods that contain carbohydrates like grains, fruits, vegetables and dairy products. These foods are digested by our bodies slowly; thus, the sugar present in such foods offers a consistent supply of energy to our cells.
The Sugar Basics
Sugar is a source of energy for our body, but having too much of it is not good for our health. Our body processes all sugars in the same way, converting them into glucose, which is used for energy. However, to get long-lasting energy, it’s better to eat complex sugars found in whole grain products.
When we consume too many simple sugars, like those in soda or sweets, we get a quick energy boost or a “sugar high,” but it fades quickly, making us feel tired and sluggish afterward. To avoid consuming too much sugar, we need to be smart about our food choices and opt for healthier options like whole grains.
It is true that diets high in sugar have been associated with a higher likelihood of developing heart diseases and elevated blood pressure levels. This is because sugar acts as a pro-inflammatory substance, raises triglyceride levels, and increases the risk of atherosclerosis, which refers to a condition where fats accumulate and clog arteries. Additionally, a connection exists between high sugar intake and the development of Type 2 diabetes due to increased insulin resistance in the body.
Shweta Rathore’s Suggestions
- Be smart in your cereal selection. Many cereals in the market have high levels of concentrated sugar from dried fruit. You can instead opt for fruit-free wholegrain cereals or oats.
- Be mindful of sauces. Adding too much sauce to your dish can easily increase your sugar intake, as they often contain several teaspoons of sugar per serving. Consider using herbs and spices to enhance the flavour without the extra sugar.
- Reduce fruit juice consumption when possible. Whole fruits are more nutritious since they contain natural sugars along with fiber, which is absent in fruit juices.
- Do not skip meals. This can aggravate sugar cravings.
- Imagine as if sweetened drinks are synonymous to liquid candy and try to avoid them.
- Every item in your plate is meant to be enjoyed. Carbohydrates, proteins, sugars are all essential for your body and the only catch is the consumption quantity. So, avoid demonizing any particular nutrient, because they are all essential to look at the overall diet for a healthy lifestyle.
- The sugars present in fruits, dairy products, and vegetables are sourced naturally and are recommended as part of a balanced and healthy diet. On the other hand, sugars extracted from their original sources and added to processed foods should generally be avoided.
- Overconsumption of sugar is linked to various health issues, including weight gain, heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, liver disease, kidney disease, gout, aging, depression, and dental problems in children.
- It is essential to note that all forms of sugar (white, brown, coconut, jaggery, honey) contain the same 4kcal per gram, and their nutritional content is minimal.
- If you aim to reduce sugar intake, do it gradually, control portion sizes, and take time to understand the reasons behind your cravings for sugary drinks or snacks. Work on addressing these reasons over time.
To avoid excessive sugar intake, carefully inspect the ingredient lists of food products for added sugars (keep in mind that natural sugars are also good to an extent). So, next time when you pick any packet from the store, check for “-ose” at the end in the ingredient list. For example, when you find names like fructose, glucose, galactose, lactose, sucrose, maltose, be assured that the food items contain sugar. This will help you assess if you need additional sugar in your diet routine or you are consuming it in excess.
Also, do not focus extremely on low-fat diets and being “anti-sugar” because the main rule of staying fit is that every body is different and you need to identify what works best for you! Sugar is a culprit or a much-needed friend will always depend on the quantity of your consumption.
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More power and love from my end.