Though this isn’t a post about the history of sugar, it’s fascinating and definitely worth a glance at another time. (1) One thing is for certain – this once luxurious splurge is now everywhere. It’s in the majority of available packaged foods and beverages, and even in over-the-counter and prescription medications. Why? And what does that mean for you? We’ll tell ya…
Sugar – A Time & A Place
Contrary to zealot belief, a little bit of sugar can be included as part of a healthy and balanced diet. In order to do this, factors of importance to consider are as follows:
- Type of Sugar – Sugar comes in many forms and is listed under various names as seen depicted in the image on the right. Each one of these contains the same amount of calories per gram (4 calories/gram), yet undergo various types of processing and come from different sources (cane, maple, corn, etc). Some of these sugars are “naturally occuring,” like maple and honey, which means they contain higher amounts of micronutrients like antioxidants and phytochemicals that can benefit your health in comparison to highly processed sugars like high fructose corn syrup, so choosing naturally occuring sugars is important.
- Quantity and Frequency – Sugar becomes a problem when ingested too often and in too high of quantity, both of which contribute to sugar’s link to central focused adiposity (apple shape) and heart disease. (2) This is due to our body’s response to sugar, such as the impact to blood glucose levels, the liver’s process, and overall inflammation. Because sugar is so frequently used to create a desirable taste, texture, and even impact the shelf life of packaged foods, sugar is used and eaten in excess. In fact, according to the National Cancer Institute, an adult man, on average, ingests 24 teaspoons of sugar every day (384 calories).(3) Many of these calories are “empty” in that there’s no nutritional benefit to their ingestion, but are often substituted for more nutrient dense products like lean meats, whole grains, and vegetables.
- Timing of Consumption – Sugar is our body’s preferred source of immediate fuel, which means sugar is best ingested in times of depletion, such as following intense exercise or even in the middle of endurance exercise like running and cycling. Following exercise, sugar is best ingested in combination with protein as your cells need to rebuild and repair any muscle tearing that occurred during exercise.
The Sugar Crash
I bet we all know that feeling of overindulging in Halloween candy, “bouncing off the walls,” but then feeling the post-candy lethargy (aka “the sugar crash”). This is due to our body’s response to ingesting large amounts of sugar. When large amounts of sugar is ingested without protein, fiber, and/or fat to slow down the absorption, our blood sugar quickly spikes, insulin is released, the sugar is rapidly utilized, and we’re left feeling depleted and likely hungry again. Chronic ingestion of sugar in this manner can lead to conditions like type 2 diabetes, where your body becomes insulin resistant and excess sugar in the bloodstream damages cells over time. This is often due to lifestyle choices around food, sugar, and exercise habits.
Sugar & Addiction
Let’s be real here – simply put, sugar tastes good. Sugar, along with salt and fat, make food taste better and stimulates our body to produce “feel good” chemicals comparable to our body’s response to drugs. In fact, recent research has revealed, “Animal data has shown significant overlap between the consumption of added sugars and drug-like effects, including bingeing, craving, tolerance, withdrawal, cross-sensitization, cross-tolerance, cross-dependence, reward, and opioid effects”. (4)
Sugar consumption can easily get out of hand and since it’s difficult to avoid in most prepared food items, it is The Foodery’s Standard to use sugar sparingly in crafting meals. On the rare occasion we do need a sweetener, we only utilize organic sugar, honey or maple syrup and never any artificial sweeteners.
Taking a lesson from history, we believe sugar should still be considered a luxurious indulgence, so we treat it as such and our royal bodies thank us for that.
- Sugar Shock Funnies: Blood Sugar Rollercoaster “Reprinted with permission from health and sugar expert Connie Bennett’s website, www.Connie-Bennett.com. (http://connieb.com/sugar-shock-funnies/)