Sugar in the body: are all sugars the same?

Sugar in the body

It’s a Friday evening, you’re tired after work and you can’t wait to get home and relax to the max! On your way back from the office you get a sudden craving after those Friday yummies, and you stop by the grocery store. With the intention to just “get a few snacks” you end up making it rain over at the candy aisle. Sugar. The first thing we crave when we’re hungry and the last thing we want after a big meal. It’s said that sugar is as addicting as cocaine, and well if you’ve ever been a major sweet tooth, I think you can agree. Not that I’m assuming you know all about cocaine addiction, but you know what I mean…

Sugar in the body

That sugar isn’t the most healthy thing you can eat, most of us already know. And if you didn’t know, or have been denying it, well, this should be your smack in the face wake up call. But why is sugar unhealthy and what does it do in our body? Keep reading to find out, and you probably want to keep your hand away from the candy bag while you’re at it.

Insulin and diabetes

Sugar spikes our insulin and blood sugar which is what affects our bodies first, and fast. Since sugar is easily absorbed by our intestine it shoots straight up in our blood and makes us go crazy. By fast, I mean fast! You know those roller coasters which goes up slowly about 80 m high up in the air, and then just drops you? Yes, like that kinda fast. Or like a bunch of buff Fast and Furious guys racing their hearts out. Ever felt jittery or even a bit sick after too much sugar? Or the classic one where kids are bouncing off the walls? Well, that’s the insulin and blood sugar going on roller coasters and drag races in your body.

When this happens frequently, you are at a higher risk for type 2-diabetes, which usually is the first disease we associate with sugar. What diabetes essentially is, is when the pancreas has gone too sick and tired of making so much insulin after each sugar spike, that it no longer can regulate and maintain normal insulin levels, and that’s why you as a diabetic need to take insulin shots to stabilize your blood sugar.

sugar in the body

Premature aging

If poor health wasn’t bad enough, sugar is also the worst thing for our beautiful faces as well. Sugar loves to pick a fight with our healthy cells, and unfortunately, they are stronger and knocks our cells out of the park, leaving us with damaged cells resulting in gloomy, wrinkled skin, and overall aging of our whole body. Take care of your cells people! Sugar does also include alcohol, people. Don’t forget that…

Different types of sugar

A lot of people like to lump sugar into just one category, and that category is called “unhealthy, get the fudge out” (literally, get the fudge out). If you’re sweet, you’re unhealthy (strictly food speaking. If you’re a sweet human being, you’re wonderful. Keep being sweet.), meaning that they put both candy and fruit in the unhealthy box and ditch fruits altogether. This, my friends, is a major mistake!

When we talk about sugar we call them either disaccharides or monosaccharides. This probably sounds like straight-up tooth fairy language, so to put it in simpler terms, a disaccharide is made up of two monosaccharides, and needs to get broken down by the body before it gets absorbed. A monosaccharide is a molecule in its simplest form, that doesn’t require to get broken down before absorbed into the body, which makes it easier for the body to absorb it. So, a disaccharide needs to get broken down into a monosaccharide and then get absorbed into the body, a monosaccharide just gets absorbed. Got it? Kinda?

Sucrose

This is the type of sugar that we find in most of our favorite processed foods. All those naughty treats that we love such as candy, ice cream, soda, cupcakes, and a lot of cereals and bread. Sucrose is basically the fancy science word for sugar, that white normal table sugar you can buy at the store.

Sucrose is made up of both fructose and glucose meaning that sucrose is a disaccharide. It’s made up of two monosaccharides (glucose and fructose).

Glucose

You’ve probably come across any of these expressions such as “glycogen storage”, “low glucose levels”, or “the brain runs on glucose”. And to make it simple, glucose is the sugar that we find in most carbohydrates. Bread, pasta, potatoes, rice, noodles, bananas, I mean you know what carbohydrates are. Glucose is a form of energy that our body and brain require to function, and is the type of sugars our body prefers. So yes, you could eat a bag of candy for that glucose spike, but you could also eat a whole grain avocado toast for a steady glucose spike while getting fiber, vitamins, and minerals. You see the difference?

Fructose

As the name kinda implies, fructose is naturally found in fruit, and we can also call it fructose for “fruit sugar”. Fructose is the sweetest for out of the three and is why it’s mostly used for sweet processed foods such as sweets and candy. Ever heard of the ingredient high-fructose-corn-syrup? Well, that’s the aftermath from processing fructose and what ends up in our candy.

sugar in the body

Processed sugar and natural sugar

So, since we can find sucrose, glucose, and fructose in a lot of stuff, both whole foods and processed foods, it’s easy to understand why people draw the line and ditch all sugars. That’s why we see the whole “low carb” diet trend going around, since every carb contains sugar, and sugar is unhealthy and makes you fat. But, this is not true!

The sugars we want to stay away from are the processed sugars. The guys who are derived from our natural whole foods to make up this sweet additive that gets sprinkled on everything we eat and drink. A lot of big brands love to sneak in processed sugar into their products to make us addicted and hooked on their products. Even the most unharmful products, like cereal, “healthy” granola, yogurts, “freshly squeezed” juice, ketchup, whole grain bread, just to name a few of all the items sugar is sneaked into. Yes, we actually live in a world that cruel.

What does this mean for you? You need to become the boss, take control of your grocery situation, and become the food label reading police. If one of the first three ingredients are sugar, NEXT! Most likely you’ll be able to find a way better option of the same item with less, or without sugar.

And then we have our natural, healthy sugars which occur naturally in a lot of foods. Fruits, vegetables, root vegetables, whole grains, these are the things you want to eat and should be eating. Whole foods provide us with a lot of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and gut-loving fiber which are essential to our body. Not to mention that our brain and body needs natural sugars to function properly, plus it makes our skin more radiant and keeps us looking fresh as fudgy budgy for longer.

So please, say it with me, fruits are HEALTHY. They are sweet, they are filled with fructose and natural sugar, but they are healthy! Eat them every day. And if you’re wondering about the insulin and blood sugar spikes from fruit, wonder no more! Thanks to all the fiber it slows down the spikes, making the insulin steady and chill. Our pancreas loves that. He’s not good with stress management.

sugar in the body

Alternatives to sugar

Now you might be thinking, jisses woman, are you telling me to stop eating my favorite sweet treats? What about my sweet morning tea? Birthdays? How am I supposed to bake a cake without sugar? Slap some fruits in there!? Don’t worry, I’ve got you. And no, I’m not going to tell you something like “you’ll get used to not eating sweet baked treats”, or “dark chocolate is just as yummy as milk chocolate” because let’s be real, it’s not the same thing.

In baked gods:

  • Dates: Not the ones you get on Tinder, but the edible dates you can buy in the grocery store (if only dating was that easy, huh?). Mix them up in a food processor and add them as a natural sugar to your cakes and treats.
  • Bananas: It might leave a bit of a banana taste, so if you’re not into that, then don’t use bananas as your replacers. Mash them up and add them to whatevs.
  • Agave and honey: If you’re strictly vegan then toss the honey out of the window. Agave and honey are as natural as it gets when it comes to that real sweet goodness of nature. It’s already a liquid and you don’t need much of it at all.

In drinks (coffee, tea, I mean even cocktails if you please).

  • Agave or honey

Snacks:

  • Fruits.
  • Dried fruits.
  • Raw treats.
  • Baking your own cakes: You can find so many recipes only for brownies, cakes, cookies, whatever you might think of that uses real whole ingredients. Black bean or sweet potato brownies? Yes, they are a thing, and no you actually won’t notice the difference. If you want me to post a sweet recipe, leave a comment below on what, and I’ll try to “whole food” it.
  • Dates in cacao powder (this is so darn delicious I promise you).

Obviously, snacks will be the toughest part so let’s get real. You are allowed to eat sugar. You can eat donuts, you can have a bag of candy, you can do whatever you want, and I want you to do it! Life isn’t about restrictions, it’s about balance. It’s definitely healthy to keep the processed sugar intake low, but if you are craving a twinkie or a pint of Ben & Jerry’s, eat it!! It’s also healthy to feed your craving, enjoy it, and then get on with your life.

Now, go ahead and have a sweet ass with your sweet ass!

Sources:

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/sucrose-glucose-fructose#absorption-and-use

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6215768/

https://www.rd.com/health/wellness/what-sugar-does-to-your-body/

Natural and Added Sugars: Two Sides of the Same Coin

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