How This Helps

Everyone knows that eating an excessive amount of sweets is not suitable for our health. There are many forms of sugar. Some of these are harmful to us, some can be acceptable, and some can even be helpful to our health. However, this is generalized information, and we should be aware of what is fake sugar, real sugar, and which is good for our health and which one is not. What is better for us: real sugar from sugar cane with empty calories or artificial sweeteners with zero calories? How can we define what is real sugar and what is fake?  Let us have a closer look so you can decide whether you should choose fake sugar (artificial sweetners) or real sugar.

Start with carbohydrates basics first

Carbohydrates basics

All foods containing sugar or fiber are a part of this carb food group. Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, dairy, legumes, and legumes are all part of this. These foods are crucial to our health, as they provide much of the energy, vitamins, and minerals we will need for our health.

Cane sugar, soda, syrups, white bread, candy, and some other foods sweetened with processed, added sugars also contain carbohydrates. These options, however, provide us with minimal nourishment. They are often thought of as empty calories because they offer a whole lot of energy without plenty of nutrients, and frequently consuming these foods can promote weight gain and chronic diseases.

Carbohydrates are essential macronutrients for athletic performance. The body pulls from both fat and carbohydrate stores during activity. Carbohydrates are the preferred source, as it provides more energy per unit and at a faster rate than fat. 

See: Honey And Diabetes

Processed vs. Natural carbs

Is it best to choose carbs that contain natural sugars or even more processed choices such as sports drinks or energy bars? It depends on whether you are feeling before, during, or after a workout.

Before or after a workout, select natural, healthy carbohydrates: fruit, vegetables, whole grains, dairy, beans, and legumes. These foods will supply your body with slow-digesting carbohydrates to help replenish your glycogen stores. Enjoying these carbohydrates as part of a well-rounded, balanced meal will make certain you get the other nutrients you need for general wellness.

If you are engaging in high-intensity endurance workout, which needs refueling mid-workout, processed carbohydrate options are actually perfect. Sports drinks, gels, and gummies that have been designed especially to be consumed while exercising comprise simple carbs your body is able to metabolize quickly, providing you with the rapid energy that you need during the race. Sports nutrition products need much less nourishment than complex carbohydrates and provide more energy in a more compact package, decreasing the danger of an upset stomach as you're training.

See: Herbs That Lower Blood Sugar

Real or fake sugar

Real vs. fake sugar

All of us love sweets, but because they are filled with added sugars, if we go for sugar-free choices? Fake sugar in the kind of artificial or non-nutritive sweeteners provides little to no calories, and it can be produced from natural or synthetic sources. These sweeteners have grown in popularity since the discovery of the health issues related to excessive consumption of added sugars. This was the food business's way of maintaining sales of candy treats as individuals became more health-conscious. But are the promises of artificial sweeteners also good to be true?

Non-nutritive sweeteners normally contain many additional chemicals, and while the preliminary study suggests they're safe for consumption, we need more information to assess the safety of using these products long-term. Additionally, relying on artificial sweeteners will reduce an individual's sensitivity to the taste of sugar and raise their cravings for sweet foods.

Adding a bit of natural honey or sugar to sweeten particular foods or enjoying a reasonably sized portion of a candy treat is a better way than frequently consuming highly processed products containing artificial sweeteners. And if you are an active person, your body needs carbohydrates to fuel your workouts, so artificial sweeteners are unnecessary, and little quantities of real sugar should not be an issue. The main thing is to select the ideal carbohydrates to fuel your degree and type of action.

See: Functional Medicine for Type 2 Diabetes

Artificial sweeteners to avoid

Fake Sugars to Avoid

In 2016, there was a research study published in the Journal of American Medical Association (JAMA) that aimed to unveil the truth that in the 1960s, the sugar industry sponsored a group of scientists at the Harvard University to blame fat and not sugar for being the leading cause of heart disease and obesity.[1] Following this, for 50 odd years, millions of people kept on suffering from unhealthy levels of gain in weight and disease progression due to the prescribed low--fat diet, but no restriction on the consumption of sugar. 

Now that there is the availability of more accurate information on the harms of consuming fake sugars, a greater part of the population is making a conscious effort to avoid excessive intake of sugar. 

Check out below the typical fake sugar we should altogether avoid.

1. Refined Sugar

Refined sugar is perhaps the most harmful sugar that we consume daily. Refined sugar is the raw form of sugar (derived from sugar beets or sugarcane), which has undergone some kind of refining process to remove the molasses. The resultant is the white and granulated sugar that we commonly use as table sugar. 

Doctors and researchers alike advise people to remove all forms of refined sugar from their diets for a variety of reasons. Consumption of refined sugar is known to worsen nearly every disease known to mankind.[2] This also includes mood disorders, gastrointestinal disease, neurological conditions, hormonal and immune dysregulation, obesity, cardiovascular disease, and even cancer.[3] [4] [5]

Research has shown that foods with a higher glycemic load are directly linked with having higher levels of hsCRP (which is a marker of inflammation) in the bloodstream. [6]

 

2. High Fructose Corn Syrup

High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) should be restricted as much as possible. HFCS is a fake sugar that is derived from corn syrup. Most experts firmly believe that added sugar and HFCS are some of the critical factors behind today's obesity epidemic in the world. [7] [8]

Add sugar and HFCS are also closely linked to many other severe health conditions, such as heart disease and diabetes.[9], [10]

The main reason why HFCS is considered to be harmful to our health is that it contains excess levels of fructose. Due to its high fructose content, HFCS is metabolized differently than other carbs, and this also contributes to increased liver fat, increasing the risk of fatty liver disease. [11]

 

3. Aspartame

Aspartame is one of the most popular fake sugar that is available on the market to be used as an artificial sweetener. There are high chances that either you or someone known to you has consumed an aspartame-containing diet soda sometime or the other. Findings from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that one-fifth of all Americans have drunk a diet soda on any given day. [12]

The fake sugar aspartame is made up of aspartic acid and phenylalanine. Both these ingredients are naturally occurring amino acids. When you consume products that contain aspartame, the body processes aspartame, and part of it gets broken down into methanol. So basically, when you are drinking beverages that contain aspartame, you are merely increasing the production of methanol in your body. 

As of 2014, aspartame was the most significant source of methanol in people's diets, and methanol is known to have a direct link to causing autism.13

There is also a link between the consumption of aspartame and a host of other ailments, including:

 - Depression

- Headaches

- Cancer

- Weight gain

- Lupus

- Alzheimer's disease

- Multiple sclerosis (MS)

- Seizures

- Dizziness

- Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)

- Congenital disabilities

 

See: Low Sugar Diet Plan to Control Blood Pressure and Obesity

Real sugars you can have in moderation

Let us move on to look at some real sugars that you are considered safe to consume but in moderation. 

1. Honey

Honey renders a wide range of health benefits, but of course, it should be had in moderation as it can also raise your blood sugar levels, given that the primary components of honey are fructose and glucose. 

You can also find trace amounts of several vitamins and minerals, but you would need to eat a significant amount of honey to fulfill your daily requirements of these vitamins and minerals. 14

Good quality honey is also known to contain many important antioxidants, including organic acids and phenolic compounds like flavonoids.15

Antioxidants have been associated with a lowered risk of strokes, heart attacks, and many types of cancer as well. They are also known to boost eye health.16

 

2. Maple Syrup 

Pure maple syrup functions like honey and is considered to be healthy in small amounts, although this is only true if it is consumed in its raw, unprocessed form. 

Maple syrup is known to contain many phytonutrients and antioxidants that help fight inflammation in the body. Maple syrup provides a decent amount of minerals, particularly manganese and zinc. However, it also contains a lot of sugar, which is why it should be consumed in moderation. 

The active compounds in maple syrup have also shown to help slow down or reduce the growth of cancer cells and are also known to slow down the breakdown of carbohydrates in the digestive tract [18],[19]. However, there is a lack of substantial data from human studies to prove these benefits of maple syrup.

 

3. Fruits

Fruits are perhaps the best source of real sugar you should be having. The primary sugar found in fruit is fructose. One serving of fruit contains approximately 2 to 40 grams of sugar, depending on which fruit you are taking. 

Given the total density of health-boosting antioxidants, phytonutrients, and many vitamins and minerals that fruits contain, the real sugars found in fruits are good to have for both adults and children.

See: Strawberries nutrition health benefits

Summary

Try to follow a rule of thumb: opt for pure, whole, raw, and natural forms of sugars whenever possible. Pay attention to nutrition labels when you buy food items to avoid excessive intake of sugar. There are many types of sweeteners available on the market today, so be careful of what ingredients they contain. Always ensure to check the nutrition labels before buying a sweetener. Fake sugar can be found hiding in places where you least expect, including sauces, bread, salad dressings, and snack bars.

See: Ayurvedic Treatment for Prediabetes & Diabetes Type 2

References

1. Kearns, C.E., Schmidt, L.A. and Glantz, S.A., 2016. The sugar industry and coronary heart disease research: a historical analysis of internal industry documents. JAMA internal medicine, 176(11), pp.1680-1685.

2. Yudkin, J., 1972. Sugar and disease. Nature, 239(5369), pp.197-199.

3. Mayberry, J.F., Rhodes, J., and Newcombe, R.G., 1980. Increased sugar consumption in Crohn's disease. Digestion, 20(5), pp.323-326.

4. Stanhope, K.L., 2016. Sugar consumption, metabolic disease, and obesity: The state of the controversy. Critical reviews in clinical laboratory sciences, 53(1), pp.52-67.

5. Yang, Q., Zhang, Z., Gregg, E.W., Flanders, W.D., Merritt, R. and Hu, F.B., 2014. Added sugar intake and cardiovascular disease mortality among US adults. JAMA internal medicine, 174(4), pp.516-524.

6. Griffith, J.A., Ma, Y., Chasan-Taber, L., Olendzki, B.C., Chiriboga, D.E., Stanek III, E.J., Merriam, P.A., and Ockene, I.S., 2008. Association between dietary glycemic index, glycemic load, and high-sensitivity C-reactive protein. Nutrition, 24(5), pp.401-406.

7. Lustig, R.H., Schmidt, L.A., and Brindis, C.D., 2012. Public health: The toxic truth about sugar. Nature, 482(7383), p.27.

8. Bray, G.A., Nielsen, S.J. and Popkin, B.M., 2004. Consumption of high-fructose corn syrup in beverages may play a role in the epidemic of obesity. The American journal of clinical nutrition, 79(4), pp.537-543.

9. Bantle, J.P., 2009. Dietary fructose and metabolic syndrome and diabetes. The Journal of nutrition, 139(6), pp.1263S-1268S.

10. Malik, V.S., Popkin, B.M., Bray, G.A., Després, J.P., Willett, W.C. and Hu, F.B., 2010. Sugar-sweetened beverages and risk of metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes: a meta-analysis. Diabetes care, 33(11), pp.2477-2483.

11. Faeh, D., Minehira, K., Schwarz, J.M., Periasamy, R., Park, S. and Tappy, L., 2005. Effect of fructose overfeeding and fish oil administration on hepatic de novo lipogenesis and insulin sensitivity in healthy men. Diabetes, 54(7), pp.1907-1913.

12. Cdc.gov. (2019). [online] Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/databriefs/db109.pdf [Accessed 29 Dec. 2019].

13. Walton, R.G. and Monte, W.C., 2015. Dietary methanol and autism. Medical hypotheses, 85(4), pp.441-446.

14. Ajibola, A., Chamunorwa, J.P. and Erlwanger, K.H., 2012. Nutraceutical values of natural honey and its contribution to human health and wealth. Nutrition & metabolism, 9(1), p.61.

15. Gheldof, N., Wang, X.H. and Engeseth, N.J., 2002. Identification and quantification of antioxidant components of honeys from various floral sources. Journal of agricultural and food chemistry, 50(21), pp.5870-5877.

16. Khalil, M.L. and Sulaiman, S.A., 2010. The potential role of honey and its polyphenols in preventing heart disease: a review. African Journal of Traditional, Complementary and Alternative Medicines, 7(4).

17. Abou-Zaid, M.M., Nozzolillo, C., Tonon, A., Coppens, M. and Lombardo, D.A., 2008. High-performance liquid chromatography characterization and identification of antioxidant polyphenols in maple syrup. Pharmaceutical Biology, 46(1-2), pp.117-125

18. Apostolidis, E., Li, L., Lee, C. and Seeram, N.P., 2011. In vitro evaluation of phenolic-enriched maple syrup extracts for inhibition of carbohydrate hydrolyzing enzymes relevant to type 2 diabetes management. Journal of Functional Foods, 3(2), pp.100-106.

19. González-Sarrías, A., Ma, H., Edmonds, M.E. and Seeram, N.P., 2013. Maple polyphenols, ginnalins A–C, induce S-and G2/M-cell cycle arrest in colon and breast cancer cells mediated by decreasing cyclins A and D1 levels. Food Chemistry, 136(2), pp.636-642.

See: Acupuncture treatment for diabetes type 2

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