More about Food Groups: SWEETS
Standard: Consuming more water, fruits, vegetables grains and calcium-rich foods
What is Sugar?
This is the common term used to describe the sweet carbohydrate (sucrose) found in every fruit and vegetable. In our body, sucrose is then broken down into two simple carbohydrates called glucose and fructose. Glucose is the major source of energy for the muscles and nervous tissue of the body. We can produce all the glucose the brain needs by digesting whole natural unprocessed foods.
Natural sugars found in fruits and whole grains, are accompanied by vitamins, minerals, enzymes and fiber. These foods break down slowly into small units of glucose that enter the bloodstream through the small intestine where they are burned gradually as the body requires energy.
Refined sugars have been stripped of all the vitamins, minerals, enzymes and fiber that's needed for proper digestion. This glucose, not accompanied by nutrients, gets directly digested. However, not realizing that this glucose has already been digested, our pancreas secretes insulin to metabolize the glucose. This results in an immediate energy boost, which is then followed by a drop in energy and fatigue. By over-consuming sucrose, you eventually lose the ability to metabolize sugar and keep it in a healthy range within the cells. A normal blood sugar and normal glucose tolerance test, simply means that your pancreas is still healthy enough to shunt a large load of sugar to inside cells. It is within the cells themselves where the sugar does its damage. Dr. John Yudkin of Queens College states that, "All human nutritional needs can be met in full without having to take a single spoonful of white, brown or raw sugar."
How Sugar Affects our Body
Sugar Addiction: The body knows very well how to maintain a perfect balance of glucose unless it is presented with unnatural amounts. Therefore addiction to sucrose or white table sugar occurs when the normal mechanisms that allows your body to produce glucose from complex carbohydrates, proteins and fats, shuts down due to a steady diet of simple sugars. Thus your body becomes dependant on outside sources of glucose, which is usually sucrose or white table sugar.
Degenerative Diseases: Over consumption of refined sugar can upset the balance of calcium and phosphorus in our bodies, which leads to such degenerative diseases as kidney stones, arthritis, hardening of the arteries, cataracts and plaque on the teeth.
Decreased Immune System: Refined sugar can reduce the ability of white blood cells to kill germs. The immune-suppressing effect of sugar starts less than thirty minutes after ingestion and may last for five hours.
Decreased Ability to Learn: Various studies have shown that some children and adults have a more difficult time learning and paying attention after eating excessive amounts of refined sugar.
Energy high and lows: The result of simple sugars being absorbed so quickly into our blood stream is a powerful surge of insulin (energy) followed by a quick drop in blood sugar levels (fatigue).
Mood Swings: The quick ups and downs of blood sugar levels can cause some people to experience mood swings.
Empty Calories: Refined sugar has been stripped of the vitamins, minerals, enzymes and fiber that nature needs for proper digestion. Therefore, the body needs to use the body's stored nutrients in order to metabolize refined sugar. The depletion of these stored nutrients puts stress on the body. That is why sugar is referred to as "empty calories" and is possibly worse than eating nothing at all.
Identifying Sugar in Foods
Food labels list sugar quantities in grams: 4 grams of sugar = 1 tsp. It is very important to pay attention to the serving size when analyzing sugar content of foods
Sweet Snacks with NO added sugar
Unsweetened Apple Sauce
Prepared for HealthTeacher by Lisa Ford