Does this mean that sweet things are bad for you? Do we need to avoid sweets?
WHAT ARE SUGARS?
Sugars are carbohydrates that are usually made up of one or two carbohydrate units (for example sucrose is made of glucose and fructose units joined together). There are sugars which usually don't taste sweet, like lactose, the sugar in milk.
The problem with sugars is that they are absorbed very quickly into the blood as they require no, or very little, processing (called a high glycaemic index). This leads to a spike in the production of insulin, which can have a number of negative effects.
Glycaemic index can be a bit misleading though, as having a food item with a high glycaemic index in combination with another type of food will affect its absorption. It has been suggested that sugar can cause diabetes and a bad cholesterol profile. This has never been conclusively proven.
High sugar intake has been associated with obesity, which is itself associated with diabetes and a bad cholesterol profile. One prevailing myth is that honey, molasses, and maple syrup are better than sucrose (table sugar). Honey actually has a higher caloric content than table sugar and has a lot of glucose. So it's not really a better option.
Also, many believe sugars cause hyperactivity, but this has never been scientifically proven, despite the fact that it seems to happen in our personal experiences.
One of the problems with foods with sugar added is that they tend to discourage healthier food choices, foods rich in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and essential oils. They tend to have what is referred to as empty calories.
This certainly contributes to their perceived unhealthiness. But it seems sugars were meant to have the completely opposite effect as foods that are naturally sweet are usually healthy, for example fruits. In fact, naturally sweet things aren't usually poisonous.
High sugar intake may lead to cardiovascular disease, dental caries etc, so moderation is key.
Dr Douglas Street is a general practitioner and has private practices at Trinity Medical Centre, Trinity Mall; 3 Barnett Street, Montego Bay; and Omega Medical Centre at Plaza de Negril, Negril. Send feedback to email@example.com.
One of the problems with foods with sugar added is that they tend to discourage healthier food choices. They tend to have what is referred to as empty calories. This certainly contributes to their perceived unhealthiness.