Sugar, in the refined form that most of us consume it, has long been reviled as a villain that promotes ill health and obesity; to say nothing of tooth decay. So, is sugar really all that bad for us, and if so why?
Sugar – The Good
The body needs sugar for a number of essential processes. It is the basic fuel for the body and gives it the energy to perform all our daily tasks. Sugar is also necessary for the brain to function properly. Because sugar is actually required by the human body for functioning, we have evolved to love that sweet taste and even new born infants will display a marked preference for sweet over bitter.
Sugar – The Bad
So if sugar is necessary for us, why then does it get so much bad press? Well sugar becomes bad for us when we consume it in greater quantities than we need.
The body needs glucose or sugar but far less than most of us actually consume. When we consume a surfeit of sugar, which the body doesn’t need, it then gets stored in the body as fat and results in health problems as well.
Also the form in which we eat sugar is bad. It wouldn’t be so bad if we obtained sugar from natural sources – fruit for example have sugar in them; the kind of sugars that are good for us since they are complex carbohydrates. However the refined sugar that most of us drink or eat is just that: sugar and nothing else. Sugar is often described as empty calories because all that sugar has is calories, without any kind of other nutrition. So it is give you an energy burst, but nothing else really. That energy burst soon dies down leaving you feeling deflated. And if you don’t use up that energy, it gets stored as fat.
Sugar – The Ugly
Now we come to why sugar in excess is really so very bad for us. Most of us may not realize how much sugar we actually consume in a given day – the morning beverage, your breakfast cereal, sodas, desserts, they all add up to far more than we need.
This excess sugar not only makes us fat, it ages us before our time. It rots our teeth, and can even contribute to osteoporosis. Sugar is addictive and causes a sugar craving and urges us to binge on unhealthy things. It contributes to diabetes, heart problems and even cancer.