Sugar. It seems to be one of the most confused topics out there. It has a terrible reputation and people seem to believe it’s evil. More than anything, I believe it’s misunderstood.
What is sugar? Well, nutritionally, sugars are the simple carbohydrates: glucose, fructose and galactose. Glucose is our primary energy source in our bodies and the building block of the complex carbohydrates. Fructose is naturally found in fruits and honey. Galactose is found in dairy products. Those three simple sugars can combine to create the complex carbohydrates:
Glucose + Glucose = Maltose
Glucose + Fructose = Sucrose
Glucose + Galactose = Lactose
Maltose is found in barley. Sucrose is in fruits, vegetables and grains. Sucrose is what also forms granulated sugar. And Lactose is in our dairy products. No matter what the type of sugar, it all breaks down into glucose in our bodies to be used as energy.
Sugar has become a hot topic because of the ever-growing obesity epidemic and diabetes. However, I constantly hear misinformation surrounding sugar. People think sugar-free foods are automatically good for you. They think that if it’s natural it has no calories. Added sugar and overeating have led to chronic problems such as obesity and diabetes. Honey, nectar and other natural sugar substitutes still contain sugar and calories and, in excess, will cause weight gain. They are just alternatives. When a food is labeled “sugar-free,” what it really means is there is no added sugar or a sugar substitute has been used. For example, sugar-free apple sauce: this means sugar has not been added to make it sweeter, but there is still the naturally occurring sugar from the fruit itself. Sugar-free also does not mean calorie-free.
Besides protein and fat, all of our food contains glucose, will raise our blood sugar and does have calories. Whether you are eating table sugar, honey or agave nectar, it is all reacting in your the same way.
I once went to a glass blowing demonstration at a Renaissance Festival. The glass blower spent the entire time lecturing the audience about how he has eliminated all sugar from his diet. False, sir. Otherwise you’d be dead.