Myths about sugar

There have always been myths in the field of nutrition. Also myths about sugar. White sugar has a great weight in our diet. We find it in the table sugar that we use to sweeten other foods and, in addition, it is present in innumerable processed foods, even in the most unsuspected ones.

Lately, voices have grown warning of its negative effects, and it has even been spoken of as a poison. However, there are also those who defend moderate consumption. Who is right? We discover some of the myths about sugar.

Our body needs sugar: one of the most widespread myths

Although the body requires glucose to some extent, it is not true that it needs sugar. It is important to know how to distinguish between glucose and sugar.

Surely, this is one of the myths about sugar par excellence. It is true that our body needs glucose to function. It is the main fuel of our cells and from it they obtain the necessary energy. Also of the brain, the main glucose-demanding organ, from which it needs a constant contribution to function.

The problem is that we are confusing glucose with sugar. The energy substrate that our cells need to function is glucose and not sugar. Glucose, although many do not know it, is present in many foods of habitual consumption: fruits, tubers, legumes, among others.

Further, Our body is prepared to obtain glucose when it is not supplied with food. You can take advantage of glucose stores (which we store in the form of glycogen in muscles and liver) or you can convert other nutrients into glucose. Therefore, sugar is not a necessary or essential food.

Read more What are the different types of sugar?

Up to 50 grams a day are acceptable

The first thing to be clear about is that sugar is a worthless food nutritional, so it is not advisable to make recommendations for consumption. The latest guidelines of the World Health Organization regarding the consumption of free sugars state that:

"The amount of free sugars daily should not exceed 10% of the total kilocalories consumed".

Recently, they have even been reduced to an amount less than 5%. Higher levels are related to overweight and obesity in the general population. In addition, in children, it is related to the appearance of dental problems such as tooth decay.

We remember that free sugars are those that are added in food processing and not those who find in them naturally.

The important thing is to understand that, with this statement, It is not recommended to take up to 50 grams of sugar a day. What is done is to establish an upper limit that should not be exceeded. The added sugar, the less, the better.

Sugar does not cause obesity

Although many have tried to ignore the relationship between sugar consumption and obesity, the truth is that scientific evidence shows that they do have a lot to do.

The relationship between sugar and the obesity epidemic is not another myth about sugar, but it has enough scientific evidence behind it. The problem of obesity cannot be reduced to a matter of energy balance.

It's not just about eating less and spending more. Not even thinking about whether or not sugar is a hypercaloric food. The focus cannot only focus on calories, but on what kind of food the calories come from.

Our body reacts differently according to the type of carbohydrate we eat. It is not the same to drink a sugary soda, than to eat a plate of chickpeas. Although in the end they provide us with the same calories, the physiological reactions that are triggered when we take free sugars can favor the onset of obesity.

While is true that sugar is not the only factor involved in obesity, An excess of sugar and processed foods in the diet is directly related to obesity. It also increases the risk of diseases associated with the latter, such as diabetes, hypertension or certain types of cancer.

The tax on sugary drinks is not effective

In recent years some countries, regions and cities have been implementing different types of measures to reduce the consumption of sugary drinks. One of them is a specific tax that taxes this type of drinks. The reasons for implementing these taxes are several:

  • Reduce the consumption of sugary drinks, with estimates that can reach a 20% reduction.
  • Reduce public health costs derived from health problems associated with a high consumption of added sugar.
  • Do health promotion campaigns among the population with part of the collection of this tax.
  • Make it clear that the Regular consumption of sugary drinks and foods with high sugar levels are not healthy.

The experiences of regions such as California or Catalonia, and countries such as France, Finland, Hungary, Chile or Mexico have been positive. The purchase and consumption levels of this type of drinks has decreased.

This is why the rates on sugary drinks are recommended by the World Health Organization as an effective tool to reduce sugar consumption and prevent the occurrence of some noncommunicable diseases.

Read more How sweet soda drinks harm our body

Myths about sugar: natural alternatives are healthier

Honey, like other sweet ingredients, can be an alternative to replace white sugar. However, its consumption should be moderate

As the bad reputation of table sugar has grown, others have appeared alternative foods to sweeten our dishes :

  • Agave syrup
  • Coconut sugar
  • Brown sugar
  • Honey
  • Fructose
  • Cracking sugar

But … are they really healthier? The truth is that some of these foods They have a lower glycemic index or provide small amounts of some nutrients. But talking about these foods as healthy alternatives can make us fall into the error that they are harmless or beneficial to health.

And if we believe they have benefits, or are not as harmful as sugar, We run the risk of increasing your consumption. They may be good options to stop the consumption of white sugar, but the ideal is to accustom our palate to the natural sweetness of food.

Although it seems risky to think that sugar is a poison, it is also true that It is not an essential food in the diet. So the best advice is that the less, the better.

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