What sugars are bad for you, what are good? How does your body break them down? What choices should you be making?
Did you know 1 can of 340mL soft drink a day can lead to 6-7kgs of body fat gain?! Or that the average 8 year old child has had more sugar than the average person did in the lifetime one century ago?? How do these choices we make affect our body composition and long term health?
So what sugars are good?
Glucose – is sugar in its simplest form and when consumed 80% of glucose in broken down and used for energy in the heart, muscles, lungs etc. Only 20% of the glucose is sent to the liver for processing and any remainder is to be stored as fat. Glucose is really important for our day to day activities and our body can only store so much within these organs. Glucose is found moreso in our wholegrains and vegetables. Make sure you are consuming a varied amount of wholegrain and vegetables throughout your diet to give your body the energy it so readily needs!
What are the sugars to avoid??
Fructose on the other hand is a completely different story. There are two kinds of fructose – the natural one and the processed one. Natural fructose is found in fruit, vegies and honey and food products that should be consumed daily, this is broken down quite easily within the body. However, the second kind of fructose (the processed one) only the liver can break down this fructose. If processed fructose is consumed in excess the body basically freaks out and cannot break down the fructose fast enough to use for energy. It is like having 10 soccer balls thrown at you at once. There are only so many you can catch and throw away. The rest go into the goal. The same goes with the liver – there are only so many fructose molecules the liver can break down in one time to use for energy. If it cannot – it will store the fructose as fat within the liver.
This results in increases insulin resistance, non alcoholic liver disease/fatty liver; or could be a reason as to why you have high results on a liver functioning tests.
So where do you find refined fructose – almost everywhere. Start reading your food labels. The majority of processed foods contain high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), like soft drinks, juices, baked products, some breads, flavoured yoghurts, cakes, lollies, chocolates, canned foods and sauces.
So try and cut out all the HFCS products and also increase the FIBRE in your diet – (found in fruits and vege/wholegrain products/legumes/oats). Fibre decreases the rate of fructose breakdown, which allows the liver to pick up the fructose molecules at the right rate rather than being bombarded and storing it as fat!
Lastly there is Sucrose; which is cane sugar or table sugar and its composition is 50% glucose and 50% fructose. Even though it is half glucose, the other half will be a struggle for your liver to digest! So be wary about how much white/brown/raw sugar you do add to your cooking or even food you buy!
My biggest tip is check your food labels – look through what you have stored in your cupboard, just because it doesn’t say sugar, does not mean it does not contain fructose or sucrose of some kind! Look for ingredients such as fuctofuranose, D-arbino-hexulose, fruit sugar, levulose. Most things that end in –Ose are a sugar of some kind! Think about what you are feeding your family, even if you feel you are fine, what options are you giving your kids or friends? Are these options really going to increase their longevity in life or open them up to lifestyle diseases?