Sugar Explained

A quick primer on sugar. Just white crystally stuff or is there a bit more to it?

You might be thinking about that sweet crystalline stuff that you add to your coffee or tea.

You are correct; its actual name is sucrose. However, there are at least 50 other names for different sugars.

Every carbohydrate (except fibre) gets broken down into sugar to use for energy. You may have heard of glucose, as in your blood glucose level. That is your ‘blood sugar’ level. Glucose is a mono (one) saccharide (sugar). It is this small molecule that we convert in our body to make energy! So yes, we do actually need glucose. It gets transported around your blood for various functions, your brain is super hungry for glucose. What we don’t need is how much we tend to have or the type that we tend to have.

I hear you. ‘I cut sugar out, I don’t add it to my coffee anymore’. But do you still drink chai lattes, fizzy, or eat chocolate, pizza or ice-cream? Possibly. How about some of the less obvious ones. Tomato sauce, white bread, plain milk, orange juice, honey? Yeah, its all sugar eventually. These foods make it easy to consume more than your maximum limit of 5 teaspoons per day for good health.

For context, one tablespoon of tomato sauce has roughly one teaspoon of, what we might call, traditional sugar, that white crystally stuff. One serving of cornflakes has another teaspoon, a teaspoon into your coffee, there’s three. Then at work when you’re tired at 3pm or after dinner because you want ‘something sweet’, someone gets out that gooey caramel chocolate. Just four squares of that will give you more than 3 teaspoons of sugar. And who stops at four? Right there, you have already gone over your quota for just one day.

Why is too much sugar bad for us?

Too much of the wrong sort (refined) can have an addiction-like factor, making you overeat it from either a glycaemic (blood glucose) spike and fall, or a pleasurable dopamine hit. Overeating that sugar can mean an excess of calories, those excess calories can eventually lead to weight gain, obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, dental cavities, an unhappy gut and more. By overdoing calories here, it is also likely that you’re overeating saturated fat, cholesterol and possibly salt as well! It ain't sounding good, is it?

On top of that, it is likely that you’re under-eating valuable nutrients like protein, magnesium, zinc and fibre. Our bodies aren’t happy with that and it can create an inflammatory response, which can worsen joint pain, gut health and brain function, to name a few side effects.

So, how about we all give our bodies a break, allow our digestive systems, detoxification systems and nervous systems to relax and restore itself. Find out how by getting in touch with me now.

Information from this blog has been created by Alyssa at Youtrition NZ using her own knowledge and from various food databases as well as information from:

Canadian Sugar Institute

Sugar Nutrition Resource Centre


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