What You May Not Know about Sugar
There was a time when a little sugar was an ordinary part of ordinary family’s food. We’d have some on our morning cereal, a couple lumps in our morning coffee. Kids would get an ice cream cone after the Saturday matinee. Most folks would have dessert after Sunday dinner: pie, cake or a cookie. That was about it. No big deal.
Now, a mere half-century later, we are battling a wild and untamed ‘sugar monster’ that has all but taken over our very lives. Cunning and addictive, sugar is everywhere. Hidden or visible, it is in practically everything we eat!
Most of the sugar we eat is sucrose, a molecule of equal parts glucose and fructose.
Beet sugar accounts for about 98% of the sugar consumed in the US. It comes from GMO seeds.
Cane sugar is not GMO, as it is propagated from stem cuttings or sections of the stalks, not seeds.
Table sugar and commercial sugar are processed from both beets and cane. There are many kinds of sugar.
Raw sugar is not processed. The Non-GMO Project has listed sources of safe, natural, non-GMO organic sweeteners, including sugar.
Sugars in nature are an integral part of foods like fruit, melon, squash and even some greens. As such, they are digested and utilized as food. It is difficult to get too much sugar by consuming natural foods.
When we use the word “sugar,” we are usually talking about “added sugar,” like in soft drinks, cereals, baked goods, ice cream, yogurt, and in most processed foods, plus the sugar we add to our coffee, tea, and lemonade. However, added sugar is not in natural food form, so is NOT digested and utilized as food.
This form of sugar has NO nutritive value. It is a pure and concentrated chemical. It is quickly digested producing calories (a measure of energy). But this is not “natural” energy. Its metabolic pathway closely resembles that of cocaine.
And why are we adding sugar to everything? Some say that it is because foods lose flavor, texture, and appeal as nutrients are removed during processing, Adding sugar to processed foods makes them taste better… and sell better. (and is addictive.)
Most of the added sugar we eat is “hidden,” meaning we are not aware of eating it, like a quarter of a pound of sugar we get in a 32-oz soda. You would never just eat that much sugar with a spoon, but it’s easy when it’s dissolved in food or a drink.
High fructose corn syrup, HFCS, is now the most common sweetener in the food industry. It has replaced sugar in most of our processed foods, including virtually all soft drinks as it is sweeter and cheaper than sugar.
Commercially processed fructose is NOT utilized by the body like the fructose or sucrose in food. Instead of quick energy, fructose is turned into fat and toxins in the liver. When the liver becomes overloaded, it “leaks” its soft, fructose into the bloodstream where it settles in vessel walls or wherever ever it can find a “home.”
Knowing this, you can imagine that HFCS causes more significant health risks than pure sucrose sugar. Even when used in moderation, it is a significant cause of diabetes and obesity, and most likely heart disease, cancer, and dementia.
Here’s another problem: this unnatural chemical energy from added sugars including fructose creates a rush of hormones that start a positive feedback loop in the body which encourages more consumption. That’s how addiction works.
As is the case with all addictive substances, not everyone falls prey. But, many do.
Wealth and power are addictive as well. The sugar industry is no more your friend than is the tobacco industry.