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Sugar Myths

Мифы о сахаре

Sazar is the household name for sucrose (C12H22O11). Cane and beet sugar (granulated sugar, refined sugar) is an important food product. Regular sugar (sucrose) refers to carbohydrates, which are considered valuable nutrients that provide the body with the necessary energy. Starch also belongs to carbohydrates, but its absorption by the body is relatively slow. Sucrose quickly breaks down in the digestive tract into glucose and fructose, which then enter the bloodstream.

Glucose provides more than half of the energy costs of the body. The normal concentration of glucose in the blood is maintained at the level of 80-120 milligrams of sugar in 100 milliliters (0.08 ~ 0.12%). Glucose has the ability to maintain the barrier function of the liver against toxic substances due to the participation in the formation of the so-called paired sulfuric and glucuronic acids in the liver. That is why ingestion of sugar or the introduction of glucose into a vein is recommended for some liver diseases, poisoning.

Sugar is blamed for almost everything - from diabetes and obesity to diseases of the heart and blood vessels, kidneys and other organs, and even strokes. But is it really that bad? Can it be that these tiny, sweet crystals do nothing but harm? Or maybe a lot of what we hear about sugar is just misinformation? Let's deal with some obscure questions about our favorite sugar.

1. People can easily limit their sugar intake.

Ok, we decided to eat less sugar. No problems. We will simply stop eating desserts, and we will refuse the donuts that our work colleagues offer us.

But hey ... Why is it so hard? Are we children who have no willpower?

The fact is that sugar is an addictive substance. Animal studies show that sugar promotes overeating, is addictive, and increases appetite. In addition, regular sugar intake makes it easy to get used to other substances.

When they began to study people who use fructose (a form of sugar), it turned out that the center of reward in their brain at that moment was glowing. But, as in the case of narcotic substances, subjects were forced to consume more and more sugar over time so that the center of reward in their brain shone as brightly as at the very beginning of the experiment.

Another study shows that sugar can be far more attractive than the effects of regular drugs like cocaine. This seems a little ridiculous, but a possible explanation for this, scientists say, is that people in the past had an evolutionary need to eat high-calorie foods and sugar.

2. Added sugar is bad

In 2014, the American Association of Cardiology recommended that Americans reduce their sugar intake from 20 teaspoons (80 grams) per day to 6 tablespoons (24 grams) for women, and up to nine tablespoons (36 grams) for men.

And especially the group of researchers was concerned about the so-called “added sugar”. Added sugar is part of our food at the stage of its preparation. It can be part of chemically prepared foods and drinks (such as high fructose corn syrup, for example), or it can be a natural substance, such as honey. Experts worry that sugar in such products has no nutritional value, and it gives only one thing - an excess of calories.

However, you should not completely remove all added sugar from your diet. Yes, sugar may not have nutritional value, but it can improve the taste of other foods that contain nutrients, such as the taste of yogurt or whole grain cereals.

So if you cannot force yourself to eat a cup of healthy yogurt without adding a pinch of sugar, then sugar should be added. Fortunately, in most cases a little sugar is required to add a satisfactory taste. This is why it is better to buy products without added sugar and add sugar to them yourself than to buy products already sweetened by the manufacturer.

3. Artificial sweeteners are healthier than sugar

Many health-conscious people prefer artificial sweeteners to sugar, sincerely believing that this is the best option, since such sweeteners do not contain calories.

Yes, you really consume fewer calories, replacing sugar with artificial sweeteners, but they can hardly be called healthy foods.

The Nutrient Control Commission believes that artificial sweeteners are safe. At the same time, experts say that the long-term effects of sweeteners have not yet been studied.

In addition, there are many studies whose results cast doubt on the benefits of sweeteners. For example, researchers at Yale University found that if you eat artificially sweetened foods that are low in calories, it may lead to the fact that you later want to eat foods high in calories. This can happen on the same day, and the effect is especially pronounced if you ate artificially sweetened foods when you were very hungry or very tired.

Artificial sweeteners do not signal to the brain that the body is receiving energy like regular sugar does.

In addition, many people who use artificial sweeteners consciously eat a little more during the day. Because they feel they can afford it. After all, in the end, they did not get the extra calories by throwing a sweetener in their coffee, so now you can eat an additional portion of potatoes or a hamburger.

So it may turn out that eating regular sugar is much more beneficial without replacing it with sweeteners.

4. Organic raw sugar is healthier than refined sugar

Raw sugar looks very attractive, it has a light caramel hue, and in shape it resembles a nugget. This organic sweetener, which is less perfect than refined sugar, is found in many healthy foods, so it probably should be good for us.

This is actually not the case. Both raw sugar and refined sugar are obtained from sugar cane, although refined sugar can also be obtained from sugar beets.

Raw sugar is obtained when sugarcane juice is boiled only once. As a result, a certain amount of molasses remains in the product, due to which its golden color appears. Refined sugar is the result of repeated boiling of sugarcane juice. Boiling removes all impurities from it, and its color, therefore, will be white.

Some proponents of raw sugar claim that the molasses left in it contains valuable nutrients that our body can use. But most experts believe that these are only residues of nutrients, and their amount in raw is so small that it simply can not have a significant impact on our health. So, although the two types of sugar mentioned above are processed differently, they are almost identical in composition.

5. Sugar-free diets are the healthiest

So we eat too much sugar. At the same time, both artificial sweeteners and raw sugar turn out to be no better than the good old refined sugar.

So maybe the answer is extremely simple, and you just need to remove all the sugar from the diet? Maybe. Here it is very difficult to do.

Technically, in order to eliminate all sugar from the diet, you only need to eat such food into which sugar was not added either during its preparation or afterwards. But if your so-called “sugar-free diet” simply means eating foods labeled “sugar free”, then nothing good will come of it.

Products whose labels loudly declare that they are “sugar free” are usually not. Because although sugar was removed from there, it was replaced with an artificial sweetener. It can be anything: sugar alcohols, sorbitol, mannitol, or some other low-calorie sweetener, for example, saccharin or sucralose.

Unfortunately, many of these alternative sweeteners still contain a huge amount of carbohydrates and / or calories. And the same sugar alcohols, if taken orally in large quantities, can cause abdominal pain and diarrhea. Experts believe that the most sensible strategy is to eat unprocessed foods, adding as little sugar as possible.

6. Do not eat too much sweet fruit

It makes no sense to deny: fruits contain sugar. Many of them. Think about how you bite a fresh, juicy peach or pear. Think of sweet juice and an explosion of taste in your mouth. Is this so bad for you?

Not. Indeed, fruits contain a lot of sugar. But this is natural sugar, it is fructose, which is much more useful than refined sugar. Plus fructose is not the only thing found in peach or pear. In addition to fructose, fruits contain fiber, antioxidants, vitamins and other nutrients that will be very beneficial for your body and will help your body fight diseases, stabilize blood sugar levels and much more.

In addition, fruits are considered low-density foods, which means that by eating them you will quickly feel full. And this is good, because if you are full, you will not eat too much fruit, plus you will not be tempted to switch to something else that is not so healthy (for chocolate cookies, for example). So eat fruits and don’t worry about anything.

7. Sugar causes tooth decay

Did your dentist tell you in your childhood that sugar destroys your teeth? He was right, but only partly. If your teeth come in contact with sugary foods and sugary drinks, this can lead to tooth decay. But this will happen only if all these sweet substances are on the surface of the teeth for a long time. In addition, prolonged action of other products, such as fruits, bread or oatmeal, can lead to tooth decay.

Even healthy vegetables can destroy teeth, and that’s why.

A substance called plaque leads to tooth decay. It begins to form on the teeth at the moment when you eat or drink something. If you do not get rid of plaque, it will eventually destroy the enamel on the teeth and create tiny holes in it, under which then cavities will appear. So the best way to prevent tooth decay is to brush your teeth after eating. Even a regular rinse with water can be helpful. And if you ate foods that can easily get stuck in your teeth, such as raisins, popcorn or raspberries, then thorough brushing and flossing of your teeth with subsequent rinsing is simply necessary.

8. Sugar causes hyperactivity

Which of the parents did not hear that if their baby eats too much sugar, then from this he can become too inflated and hyperactive?

And that often seems true. Just watch how the children at someone’s birthday eat cake, sweets and drink them with cola, and then a wild screech and running around begins.

But have you ever thought that it is possible that the fact of the holiday affected them so, and not sugar?

There are many extensive studies of the relationship between sugar levels and hyperactivity, and not one of them has revealed this relationship. More recently, a group of specialists analyzed several reputable studies, and came to the conclusion that sugar in the diet of children does not affect their behavior.

Another study is interesting, published in the Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, in which a survey was conducted of mothers who believed that their children were “sugar-sensitive”. Mothers were asked to evaluate the behavior of their children after drinking soda. The mothers of boys who drank soda with sugar believed their sons were more active than boys who drank soda with an artificial sweetener. The catch was that without exception, all children were given soda with an artificial sweetener, which implies that the basis of "hyperactivity" is more likely to be human perception, not sugar.

9. Sugar leads to obesity

Many people believe that sugar is inextricably linked to obesity: sweets, cakes, ice cream, etc. If you are fat, you think, this is because you eat too many sweet desserts.

At the same time, people who know a little better in nutrition often warn against over-eating starch-containing foods (potatoes, rice, and other cereals) because your body converts starch into sugar, which leads to extra pounds.

The problem is that it is not.

If this were so, then people who eat a lot of rice (for example, Japanese) and people who eat a lot of pasta (for example, Italians) would be the thickest people in the world. But you know what? They are one of the most slender.

And here's the thing. If you eat a lot of sugary foods, such as cakes and cookies, and drink it with sodas and juices, you will gain weight. But this is because you are absorbing too many calories, and not because you are only full of sugar. And if the total number of calories you have absorbed is within normal limits, then sugar will never create rollers of fat on your sides, and will not turn your stomach into a kind of jelly.

10. Sugar causes diabetes

The most common sugar myth is the myth that sugar causes diabetes. Most likely, the reason for this error was that the blood sugar level of diabetics is far from normal, because they are forced to carefully monitor sugar intake. In general, there is no connection between sugar intake and diabetes. There is only one exception, which will be described below.

There are three main types of diabetes!

Type 1 diabetes develops when the pancreas is unable to produce insulin. Insulin is a hormone that extracts sugar from the food we eat and allows it to penetrate our tissues, where the body uses sugar as an energy source. If the pancreas does not produce enough insulin, or insulin does not work properly, diabetes occurs.

Type 2 diabetes. As a rule, it occurs in overweight people, people leading a sedentary lifestyle and sitting on a high-calorie diet, and the source of these calories can be anything, not just sweets.

Some pregnant women may also have gestational diabetes. It occurs when hormonal changes during pregnancy interfere with insulin production.

So what is there with the above exception to the general rule on diabetes and sugar?

People who regularly consume large amounts of sugary drinks (sugar-sweetened soda, fruit drinks, etc.) may well earn type 2 diabetes. Of course, many people who are hungry for sugary drinks are also overweight and eating a lot, and all this can also cause type 2 diabetes. However, the study shows that those who just drink a lot of sugary drinks, but at the same time actively move and eat healthy food, are also very likely to get diabetes.

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