Sugar. SUGAR. Of all the things I wish were guilt free, sugar is at the top of the list. Unfortunately, we now know that not only is probably not the best thing for you, it is practically poison and addictive. So what's a girl to do who just wants to eat healthy and not need a dietician certification to do that?
Let's talk sugar. What it is, where it is and what your body does with it. And, most importantly, do you have to give it up entirely?? I'll do my best to not be too science-y!
What is sugar? It is a carb made of hydrogen, carbon and oxygen in specific amounts (thank you, www.exploratorium.edu). It occurs naturally in some foods and is added to other. There are types of sugar - fructose, glucose, sucrose, galactose, lactose, and maltose. Each type is processed a little bit differently by our bodies, but by and large, our bodies convert sugars to glycogen. Glycogen is stored in our muscles to be used as fuel. If we don't use it...yep, turns to fat.
What do the types mean?
Fructose - this is referred to as the fruit sugar and is most commonly found in fruit, most root vegetables and honey.
Glucose - this circulates in our bloodstream as blood sugar (those of you familiar with diabetes are nodding your head) and for our purposes, is what our body converts other sugars into.
Sucrose - this is table sugar and what most of us think of when someone says "sugar". It is refined from beet sugar or cane for human consumption.
Galactose - referred to as the milk sugar. Galactose and glucose make lactose.
Lactose - The sugar (combo) in milk.
Maltose - It is found "in germinating seeds as they break down their starch stores to use for food". Malts, malted milk balls, etc are all made from malt sugar, maltose.
Think about these types for a second. Glucose is what your body breaks the other sugars down into to use as fuel (glycogen). OK. Fructose, lactose and galactose are naturally occurring. Sucrose and maltose require science (processing) to come about. So if you are into natural food, you'll want to cut out sucrose and maltose.
When you eat sugar (of any kind), your blood sugar spikes (glucose, remember?) then crashes after your body makes insulin and the sugar is processed into glycogen (SIMPLE explanation). Also, when you eat sugar, the part of your brain that is activated (ooh, sugar, that tasted good) is the EXACT same spot that is activated when you do cocaine. COCAINE. There has been a ton of research lately showing that sugar is practically as addicting as drugs. And most of the sugar in our diet has no redeeming nutritional value.
How could sugar have redeeming value? When it is naturally occurring, in a fruit or vegetable and eaten in appropriate amounts with lean proteins, other healthy carbs and healthy fats. The most important part of that sentence is APPROPRIATE AMOUNTS. Just because fruit is healthy for you doesn't mean you should only eat fruit. You'd be eating WAY more sugar than necessary, getting practically no protein, other types of carbs or healthy fats.
Bottom line - try to cut out added sugar. Basically, if you can't grow it or raise it and eat it without needing a factory to make it, don't eat it. And of course, we all know the sugary treats are not good for us. I make homemade cookies. Their homemade, how can they be bad?? Because they have a cup of refined sugar in them! Stick to naturally occurring sugar in healthy amounts and you'll be good!