When we eat sugar, it is broken down and absorbed into the bloodstream. The body uses this sugar as energy and stores any excess as glycogen in the liver and muscles. When stored, glucose is known as a carbohydrate; when broken down and used for energy, it’s known as a sugar. This article will explain why your body needs only certain sugars, what kind of sugars are best for your body, and how to limit sugar intake in order to improve your health.
What is Sugar?
Sugar is a type of carbohydrate that contains hydrogen, oxygen, and carbon. Sugar is found naturally in many fruits and vegetables, but it is also added to many processed foods. While all carbohydrates break down into sugar in the body, the term “sugar” is commonly used to refer to the specific carbohydrates that are broken down into simple, or “simple,” sugars. Most types of sugar are found in sweet foods, but sugar can also be found in some savory foods, such as tomato sauce.
Why Does your Body Need Sugar?
Your body needs sugar to create energy, get nutrients to your cells, and build muscles. Some types of sugar, such as glucose and fructose, are “simple” sugars that are broken down and absorbed quickly. Other types of sugar are “complex” and take a little longer to break down. Sugar is metabolised by your body in the liver and kidneys. When metabolised, it produces energy that fuels your cells and helps them function properly. Your body’s cells also use sugar to create new cells and to repair cells that have been damaged.
The Problem with Sugar and why you should Limit It
If you eat too much sugar, your body will store too much of it as fat. Excess sugar can also cause a spike in blood sugar, which can lead to insulin resistance and the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Eating too much sugar can also lead to weight gain, which can increase your risk for heart disease, type 2 diabetes, tooth decay, and certain cancers. When insulin levels are too high, your cells may not be able to process glucose as efficiently. If you’re at risk for insulin resistance, eating high amounts of sugar can worsen your condition and put you at risk for type 2 diabetes.
How to limit sugar intake
Keep track of your sugar intake to make sure you stay within the recommended daily intake. If you have diabetes, your doctor will likely advise you to limit your daily intake even more. You can keep track of your intake by writing it down or using a food logging app. If you eat processed or pre-made meals, you may need to be extra diligent about reading nutrition labels to make sure they’re not high in sugar. Although it can be difficult, try to avoid sweetened beverages, such as soft drinks, fruit juice, and even iced tea.
What Are Good Sugars for the Body?
Your body needs sugar to function properly, but you don’t need to eat sugar to get it. There are plenty of sweet foods that are low in sugar, such as fresh fruit and vegetables. While table sugar and high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) are often touted as the “bad” sugars, even natural sugars like honey and maple syrup are loaded with calories. Your body’s cells use glucose, not fructose. Glucose is the only type of sugar that can be metabolised by your muscles cells and brain cells. Fructose is metabolized mostly by your liver.
Tips to help you limit sugar intake and improve your health
Eating more vegetables helps boost your intake of vitamins and minerals, and it can also help reduce your sugar intake. Many vegetables, such as broccoli, lettuce, and spinach, contain low amounts of natural sugars. Protein can help reduce sugar cravings and help you feel full until your next meal. Eating more protein will also help you build muscle, which burns more calories than fat. Fiber can help you feel fuller and prevent blood sugar spikes. It can also help your body process sugar more efficiently, which can help prevent or delay diabetes. Water is calorie-free, and it can help you avoid over-consuming sugar from other foods. It can also help reduce your risk of kidney stones, which are often caused by calcium in the urine and are common in people with diabetes. Avoid sugary cocktails, and keep your alcohol intake to one drink per day if you have diabetes. Drinking caffeine can cause you to eat more food. If you have diabetes, caffeine can also increase your blood sugar levels.
Sugar isn’t all bad. In small amounts, it can provide energy and nutrients for your body. However, you should avoid over-consuming it. Instead of eating foods high in added sugar, try eating more fresh vegetables and whole grains. You can also use less sugar when cooking and baking at home. If you have diabetes, maintaining a healthy diet low in sugar can help you avoid complications. It’s important to keep track of your sugar intake and speak with your doctor if you have concerns.