Has anyone else noticed how there is more and more criticism on sugar lately? No health magazine goes without an article about how sugar affects health and sugar-free recipes are booming. Some experts state we should not consume any sugar, others say that it all depends on the amount and type of sugar you consume. How bad is sugar really?
The truth about sugar
First of all, doing research about the influence of sugar on health I found so many articles promoting different messages – a lot of them without any type of scientific resource. This is quite characteristic for this point in time where one diet hype follows the other and it is easy to get confused by all the different information available. Instead of choosing to stick to one expert’s opinion, I’ve tried to find the bullet points that most of them share.
- Too much of one thing is never good for your health. This goes for sugar, as well as for fat, protein, vitamins, and minerals, everything really. To the question ‘What is too much?’ is impossible to give one correct generalizing answer;
- The amount of sugar one person needs, is not the same as another person needs. This depends on your own body and lifestyle. There is one important remark to sugars that holds for everybody;
- Naturally occurring sugar in fruits en vegetables are different from artificial sugar that is often added to cookies, bread, sauces, and even chicken;
- Fruits and veggies contain relatively small amounts of natural occurring sugar. Plus, it delivers important vitamins and minerals, along with water and fibre that slow the release of sugars into the bloodstream and prevent insulin spikes, which is often claimed to cause diabetes. On average, most experts are aiming at 2 to 3 portions of fruit a day (not taking certain types of popular diets into account but based on opinions of a variety of nutritionists);
- Artificial simple sugars are lacking nutritional value, fibres and water, and have a different effect on your body than naturally occurring sugars. Experts recommend eliminating this type of sugar completely. If you feel this is not the best thing for your mental health, you might need to take that into account;). To find out which products all contain these simple sugars, you should read labels;
- Anything that ends with ‘ose’ is a form of sugar. This includes maltose, lactose, dextrose and fructose. For this too it holds that not all sugars are equally bad for you. Another common hidden sugar is syrup, often found in cereal bars.
- Be aware that artificial sugar replacements are not always as great as they seem. In general: if a product has ingredients that you cannot pronounce, it is probably not very healthy for you. Common sense and moderation is key;
Don’t get frightened by all the different opinions and information on health issues that is out there. Do your own research and most of all, listen to your own body.