Can we separate the sweet truth from blown-out fiction about sugar? Nutritionist Romer Estrada gives us the FYI on the saccharine pleasure we can’t seem to cut out from our diets.
It is, with great irony, that sugar is sought-out exponentially because of the pleasure it brings to our fragile senses but at the same time, massively vilified and ostracized due to the bad raps that we have “learned” about it.
Of course, the common knowledge is that too much sugar consumption may lead to various health concerns. Nonetheless, various reports that were blown-out of proportion or gravely misinterpreted have turned sugar into the most diabolical food item that should be avoided at all cost. But apparently, to no avail for most of us.
So, are the rumors true or not? Here are some of the common saccharine questions that I have heard from my clients:
Note however that the kind of sugar we will tackle is the regular table sugar that we know.
1. Sugar causes diabetes, right?
We can’t say that this is entirely false. Too much sugar intake plays a factor in the development of diabetes, together with the overall caloric consumption. Therefore, eliminating sugar from your diet without considering cutting back on the huge amount that you eat will still make you predisposed to being overweight or obese– the parts of the statistics which are at higher risk of contracting diabetes.
2. What can you say about sugar being a cancerous ingredient?
Same with the question about diabetes, the link is indirect and is only a part of the risk factor of being overweight and obese. As of now, direct correlation between sugar and cancer has no proof. However, same with diabetes, being overweight and obesity pose higher risks to cancer.
3. Is sugar addictive?
Yes, and that’s when sugar becomes dangerous to us. In fact, recent studies show that sugar can be as addicting as other illegal substances such as cocaine when consistently consumed in liberal amounts. The reason is that sugar activates the “pleasure” neurotransmitter called dopamine in our brain. As consumption of added sugar becomes a habit, dopamine is also becoming more “desensitized” which will make you crave for more. Therefore, the lesser your dopamine response, the more sugar you will need to feel pleasure. And the more sugar you consume, the more calories for your body and eventually, the higher possibility to result in either item 1 or 2, or both.
4. Brown sugar is healthier than white sugar, no?
If we are going to consider marginal advantages, then yes. But since it’s only marginal, the “healthier” claim is insignificant. A teaspoon of brown sugar is only a calorie shy than white sugar. Minerals such as calcium, iron, magnesium and potassium may be present in brown sugar because of the molasses content, but the amounts are too small to give you any benefits at all. Therefore, it’s just basically a battle of which among these varieties is tastier over the other.
The take away lesson here is that too much of a good is a bad thing. Sugar has its flaws, and these flaws can absolutely jeopardize your health. But is it entirely bad? Definitely not. So if you want to enjoy sugar for the rest of your life, learn how to say no when you already had your fair share.