Thursday, 5 February 2015

3 Myths About Sugar



Sugar has certainly been given a bad reputation in the press lately. In fact, in has been blamed for just about everything including obesity and diabetes to heart disease, stroke and kidney disease. But is it really all that bad? Is there nothing redeeming about those sweet, tiny little granules of fun? Or is a lot of what we hear misleading?

1. Added Sugar Is Bad For You - The American Heart Association (AHA) suggest that 'added sugars' are particularly worrisome. Added sugars are sugars or syrups that are tossed into our food and drink during processing or preparation. They can be natural (e.g., honey) or chemically manufactured (e.g., high fructose corn syrup). They're troubling because they don't provide any nutrients, only excessive calories. And they're in more products than you might think e.g. ketchup. Sugar may not have any nutritional value, but it can enhance the flavour of foods that do provide important nutrients, such as whole-grain cereal or yogurt. So if sprinkling some sugar over a cup of healthy, plain yogurt is the only way you'll eat the yogurt, it's worth it to add the sweetness. Luckily, in most instances all you need is a small amount of sugar to achieve a satisfactory taste. That's why it's better to buy the no-added-sugar version of the product and add a little sugar than to buy the "regular" or fully sweetened version.

2. Artificial Sweeteners Are Healthier Than Sugar - Many health-conscious people favour artificial sweeteners for their food, figuring they're a better bet because they don't contain any calories. It's true you're avoiding calories when you stick with artificial sweeteners, but the jury's out on whether they're healthier for you. The FDA deems artificial sweeteners safe, but experts say their long-term effects still aren't known. Further, there are numerous studies that raise red flags. For example, one study performed by researchers at the Yale University School of Medicine found that if you eat artificially sweetened foods that are low in calories, it may cause you to down high-calories foods later in the day, especially if you ate the artificially sweetened stuff when you were tired or hungry. Artificial sweeteners don't signal "energy" to the brain the way regular sugar does. Additionally, many people who rely on artificial sweeteners knowingly eat a little more throughout the day because they feel like they can afford to do so. After all, they've saved calories by opting for Splenda or Equal in their coffee or plain yogurt, so it's fine to have that extra hamburger or serving of potatoes. In the end, it may be best to simply eat less real sugar than swap it out for artificial sweeteners.

3. Sugar Causes Diabetes - One of the more prevalent sugar myths is that it causes diabetes. This misconception likely occurs because diabetics' blood sugar levels are often out of whack, so they have to watch their sugar intake. But in general, there is no direct cause and effect between sugar consumption and the development of diabetes with one exception. There are three main types of diabetes. Type 1 diabetes develops if your body's pancreas can't make insulin. Insulin is a hormone that takes the sugar from the foods we eat and allows it to enter our tissues, where our body can use it as fuel, or energy. If your pancreas is making insulin, but it's not enough or the insulin doesn't work properly, you'll have Type 2 diabetes. Type 2 diabetes typically occurs in people who are overweight, inactive and eat a diet high in calories from any source, not just sweets. Some pregnant women develop gestational diabetes when the hormonal changes from pregnancy affect the way their insulin works. So what's the exception to the sugar-diabetes linkage? People who regularly down lots of sugary drinks (sugar-sweetened soda, fruit drinks) are more likely to develop Type 2 diabetes. Of course, many people who guzzle sugary drinks are overweight and eat poorly, two factors that can cause Type 2, but studies show even those who are trim and eat healthily are more likely to develop diabetes if they're also drinking lots of sugary drinks.

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