Sugar, as well as salt, is called the “white death” as it is believed to be the cause of various health issues. On the other hand, sugar is a carbohydrate that provides human bodies with energy. Let’s find out if sugar is good for the human body or if it should be eliminated from the diet altogether. Mikhael Lasitenkov, an employee of the Institute of Nutrition RAMS provided the following comments for "MedPulse.ru."
“Sugar is not that simple. Sugar, or sucrose, is a carbohydrate that supplies body with energy. In the process of digestion sugar is disintegrated into glucose and fructose that are later transferred into blood. Glucose is not only an energy source. It also protects liver from toxins, stimulates brain activity and work of digestive, nervous and cardio systems. Therefore, glucose injections are used in treatment of certain diseases.
At the same time, during disintegration process insulin is produced. When we eat something sweet, we immediately feel a rush of energy. Soon, the level of sugar in blood drops and we feel tired and depressed.
If a body receives excessive amount of sugar, the sugar is turned into fat. Many older people like sweets but forget that excessive sugar causes increased level of cholesterol, which in turn causes cardio issues and atherosclerosis. Diabetes is another issue caused by insulin imbalance.
Excessive sugar can also negatively affect hormonal balance, vision, stomach, kidneys and respiratory organs.
Middle-aged people need 400 to 500 grams of carbohydrates on average, and older people need 100 grams less. Carbohydrates include not only sugars but also starch. This means that if you had pasta or potatoes for lunch, a sweet beverage or desert would be excessive.
Besides, sugar that we normally consume is not natural. It is refined at factories where all its nutrients are removed. Therefore, sugar is not easy to digest. It deprives our bodies of mineral salts and vitamins, represses our immune and endocrine system, which in turn causes problems with teeth and bones and other issues.
Recently scientists from Princeton University revealed through experiments on rats that sugar is addictive as it stimulates production of endorphin, hormone responsible for pleasure sensation. When sugar was removed from the rats’ diet, the animals demonstrated abstinence syndrome.
"We cannot be sure that there are people addicted to sugar,” said Bart Hoebel, head of research. “However, the results suggest that there is a connection between drug addiction and abnormal addiction to food, and sugar in particular in this case.”
Most likely those who have a sweet tooth and cannot survive a day without sweets suffer from sugar addiction. Should they completely eliminate sugar from their diets?
Doctors suggest replacing sugar with fructose, a natural sugar contained in fruit, berries and honey. These products also contain vitamins, organic acids and mineral salts. Fructose does not stay in our blood for long, does not cause fat production and does not cause high level of cholesterol. Fructose is available in stores, but it is recommended to consume natural products containing fructose because it loses its beneficial features during chemical treatment.
Another alternative to sugar is brown cane sugar. It is extracted from cane syrup and has a unique taste. This sugar is believed to be better digested, and is also an eco-friendly product.
Finally, there are various sugar supplements like xilitol or sorbitol that taste like regular sugar. Usually they are used by those suffering from obesity. However, sugar substitutes are not for everybody, and for older people they may stimulate the development of atherosclerosis.
It’s your choice. Have a sweet life!