How you really process sugar
We know sugar is bad for us. More than causing weight gain, sugar triggers inflammation, oxidation and glycation – factors that lead to disease. Different types of sugar can also impact the body differently. If you’re looking to cut out added sugars to your diet, here’s what you need to know about the differences.
Fructose is a type of sugar that is found in fruits, vegetables, and honey. It is also found in abundance in processed foods and drinks in the form of high-fructose corn syrup. Fructose is unique because unlike glucose and sucrose, it is not the preferred energy source for your muscles or brain and is not metabolised in cells but can only be processed in the liver. It is more fat-producing than glucose. A diet high in fructose (especially in high-fructose corn syrup) can strain the liver, increase blood levels of uric acid, and disturb body fat regulation.
Glucose is the simplest form of sugar and a sugar that is most easily metabolised by the body. It is also the body’s preferred energy source. Glucose triggers your insulin response and this insulin signals your cells to absorb glucose for energy. Your body processes most carbohydrates you eat into glucose, either to be used immediately for energy or to be stored in the muscles or in the liver as a fat called glycogen for later use.
Maltose is two glucose units joined together. Made from glucose, it is processed by the body in the same way.
Sucrose is simply common table sugar, made up of 50% glucose and 50% fructose. In the body, fructose and glucose are processed accordingly.
The bottom line:
We can’t escape all sugar. Natural sugars – found naturally in small amounts in whole foods – has its place in some healthy diets such as in moderate low-carb, paleo and keto diets. The key is to check for added sugars – especially for high-fructose corn syrup – and know what we’re really doing to our bodies.