We all know sugar can damage our health in so many ways and this is why many of us choose to slash our daily sugar intake by eating and drinking more healthily.
Entering into a sugar detox program has many benefits but is the advice we’re being given accurate? Cutting out refined sugars is the obvious solution but some people suggest eliminating fruits that contain naturally occurring sugars and carbohydrates that contain both simple and complex sugars is also necessary to lessen our sugar intake. But is this true or by cutting out all types of sugars causing an imbalance in our diet?
We think sugar is the devil. Is it true?
When we hear the word sugar, we think sweet and this association in our mind can cause us to believe that cutting down on fruits is necessary for a low-sugar diet.
But are naturally-occurring sugars such as fructose really as bad as processed or refined sugars? And are we actually restricting ourselves by eliminating them from our diet in the name of health?
Naturally-occurring sugar and refined sugar are actually the same
All sugar is made up of two components – fructose and glucose – and this applies to anything from chocolate cake to bananas. In other words, the molecular structure of all sugars is the same.
Our bodies process sugars by sending it from the blood stream to the pancreas which then releases insulin – a hormone that acts as your body’s sugar regulator. From there it’s either converted into energy or stored as fat in the muscles, liver or fat cells. Eat too much sugar and your body will start calling for more insulin release and over time can cause insulin resistance. This means it’s unable to efficiently convert sugars into useable energy. Of course, this can commonly lead to diabetes and other health problems.
Although the sugar content is the same, fruits are still healthier for us
Despite the sugar structure being the same whether it’s a doughnut or a strawberry, the way our body processes fruit sugars is different to refined sugars.
Fruit is nutritionally valuable
First (and most obviously) fruit contains more than just sugars. They are packed full of vitamins, antioxidants and water that are beneficial for a healthy working body. This is comparable to products containing refined sugars that are pretty much nutritionally void, high in saturated fats and offer no extra benefits.
Fruit’s high fibre changes the way our body digests sugar
The second benefit of fruit is its fibre content. This is significant because the presence of fibre allows our bodies to break down the sugars in a more efficient way. Fibre slows down the digestion of glucose which means the body has more time to use the sugar as fuel rather than storing it as fat and not creating the sudden spike in insulin that can crash and cause low-sugar levels. This is beneficial because it won’t form the common cravings we get from sweets and treats.
Fruit has less sugar by volume
The third reason why fruit can’t be fully equal to a slice of cake, is that fruit contains less sugar by volume in comparison. If you’re comparing 100g of strawberries to 100g of cake then cake will win in the ‘most-sugar’ competition.
Want to replace whole fruit with fruit juices? They are not the same!
This is where people can get confused because they will choose to drink orange juice or other fruit juices because they assume it’s healthy and the same as eating the whole fruit.
The problem with fruit juices is that they’re pretty much a concentrated source of fructose but with all the nutritional stuff taken out. That wonderful fibre that helps digest the sugars more efficiently is found in the skin and pulp of a whole fruit but the majority of it is removed from the juice you drink. This means the sugars get absorbed by the liver at a faster speed so basically acting as refined sugar does – spiking your insulin and mostly storing it as fat in your cells.
Studies have found that a glass of fruit juice contains the same amount of sugar as a glass of Coca Cola  and as a liquid form with no nutrition present, it can cause havoc for your health.
Sugar is a necessary part of our diet!
Yes, while sugar has got a bad reputation over the years this is only due to the rise in refined sugar products and our increasing consumption of them. In fact, a study found that eating fruit on a daily basis actually decreased the risk of diabetes in women  as well as heart disease .
Sugar is a necessary part of our diet and there’s a reason why it occurs naturally in the foods we eat – it’s essential in providing our cells with energy in order for them to function properly. Therefore, eating naturally-occurring sugars such as fructose (or even lactose found in milk) will provide you with a healthy amount of sugar with the exception of fruit juices. Consuming sugar with fibre in fruit will be digested in the right way and allow your body to work effectively.
Featured photo credit: Unsplash.com via pexels.com
|||^||BMJ Journals: How much sugar is hidden in drinks marketed to children? A survey of fruit juices, juice drinks and smoothies|
|||^||Science Direct: Fruit and Vegetable Consumption and Diabetes Mellitus Incidence among U.S. Adults|
|||^||The Journal of Nutrition: Fruit and Vegetable Consumption and Risk of Coronary Heart Disease: A Meta-Analysis of Cohort Studies|