Sugars

Sugars belong to a group called carbohydrates, which is responsible for supplying energy in our body. It is the main source of energy for us, so when we eat foods that are carbohydrates we get energy to be able to move around.
The main sources of carbohydrates are rice, potatoes, pasta, and bread. However, I’d like to talk to you about the sugars that are added to our diet, which we may not notice or are unaware of their presence or name on the packages.

Fruits are an excellent source of carbohydrates. Sugars are also present in milk, dried foods, mayonnaise, ketchup, and there are also sugars added to tea or cola or diet cola. There’s a good natural sugar called Stevia, which is from a plant origin and therefore has no known side effects so far, unlike the artificial sweeteners.
The purest and simplest form of natural sugars is glucose + fructose, which is present in honey. Molasses is formed from refining sugar cane or sugar beets and has a different composition. More sucrose, for example. It is important to remember that honey is not allowed for children of less than one year of age, as it may cause a form of poisoning called Botulism, which is caused by certain toxics, that a baby’s body might not be able to deal with.

Why should I eat sugar daily in a certain amount? As I mentioned before, sugar represents the main source of energy, and its stable level in our blood affects our mood. If you eat excess or deficient amount of carbohydrates you’ll find that your mood isn’t stable. That’s why it’s important that your blood glucose level remains stable.
So, when does you mood become unstable? That happens when you eat too much sugar and then you don’t eat it for several hours, and then eat again a lot of sugar. When the time between meals is too long and your intake of sugar decreases you’ll find that your mood fluctuates.
On the other hand, when you eat small meals containing moderate amounts of sugar – such as eating fruits every two to three hours – the blood glucose level will remain normal and stable, and you’ll be in a happier and more relaxed mood.
When we eat too much sugar, more than our body needs, the extra sugar we eat is stored in the liver. And if we consume even larger amounts, the body stores it as fats. That’s why eating sugars in excess will give us a bad mood and will add more pounds/kilograms fat to our body weight.

There are also source of sugars that we may not notice. That’s why I’d recommend that you read the nutrition facts label on your food packages always. If you find any word ending with –ose, like glucose, fructose, maltose or sucrose, these are all forms of sugar.
You will find sugars in honey, white sugar, concentrated food extract. You should be fully aware of your daily sugar intake. So always make sure that you read whether sugars are included in your food.
When reading a label you might find one or five artificial sugars added. Those artificial sugars have the sweet taste but add no calories to your diet. These names are: Saccharin, Aspartame, Sucralose, Neotame and Acesulfame K. If you notice any of these words on the label, then there is artificial sugar added to the food product. The body does not store artificial sugars but seems to respond to their intake by producing more insulin. It is said that because of the high insulin levels one may become obsessed with eating sugars later on. That’s why I’d recommend that you use natural sugars, such as Stevia or honey, to sweeten your drinks.

Some people may not feel well after eating sugars and may even get in a bad mood or become hyperactive. If you experience such symptoms I’d recommend that you consult your doctor to exclude diabetes mellitus, especially if you’re overweight or have a family history of diabetes.
Also, some people may feel sick after drinking milk, containing milk sugar (lactose). After drinking milk they might suffer of discomfort or flatulence – that’s gas forming – this is caused by a genetic condition, mostly prevalent in the Arab countries. About 97% of Asians and Africans might have problems after drinking milk. In this case I’d recommend replacing milk with buttermilk or yogurt, because in these products there is the least amount of milk sugar. If you’d like some sweet taste I’d suggest that you add honey, and that will be fine.

Excessive or deficient sugar intake is not healthy. Always maintain a stable level of your blood glucose and practise regular exercise, so that your body weight and health remain ideal.

I wish you good health!

Alyaa Gad