Sugar. Is it really as harmful as it is said to be?
We are used to calling different types of low-molecular-weight carbohydrates sugar. The most famous of them are glucose and fructose. The white crystals in the sugar bowl are sucrose, consisting of glucose and fructose in a one-to-one ratio.
Sucrose, glucose, and fructose are naturally found in vegetables and fruits. In addition, they are used separately and together to improve the taste and texture of different products — cookies, chocolate, and ready-made breakfasts.
Why did people decide that sugar is harmful to the body?
Actually, glucose is a valuable nutrient for our body. Most energy transactions in the body take place with its participation. Our brain, for example, feeds primarily on glucose, so we simply can't function without sugar at all.
The problem is that we began to abuse sweets. Scientists found that this had a bad effect on people's health — heart attacks, strokes, diabetes and some other diseases were observed more often in sweet tooths than in other people.
But modern research shows that the connection is not always direct.
Is sugar blamed for weight gain?
It is impossible to gain excess weight by consuming fewer calories than you spend. At the same time, the ratio of carbohydrates, fats and proteins in the diet doesn't play a big role. If you fit into your calorie allowance, there will be no problems with maintaining a normal weight.
However, sweet foods are usually high in calories and give a short feeling of satiety, so it is easy to gain extra calories. It turns out that sugar contributes to weight gain, but is not its direct cause.
Is sugar a drug?
No. Scientific data don't support the hypothesis that sugar causes physiological dependence.
Some scientists put sugar on the same shelf as drugs because the same neurobiological mechanisms work in our brains when we consume it. For example, the production of dopamine in rats fed sugar. But dopamine is involved in a large number of pleasant activities for us: love, listening to music, reaching the goal, or waiting for a win. The fact that sugar activates the production of dopamine doesn't make it a drug.
There is another important difference between drugs and food. Regular use of drugs increases their cravings and causes addiction. That is, each time a person must consume more of the substance to get the same pleasant effect.
With sweets, the situation is reversed. Behaviors similar to addiction are observed only with restrictions on the use of sugar or any other food. For example, when a person goes on a strict diet, it often leads to overeating. And it isn't a matter of dependence, but of a normal physiological desire to make up for the lack of carbohydrates.
Yes, negative emotions and obsessive thoughts about finding a source of carbohydrates while lowering blood glucose can be similar to those that occur in addicts when the drug is reduced in the blood. But the same can be said for people who are isolated from other basic needs — sleep, sex, breathing.
And what should we do?
When a product is demonized, people try to drastically limit its consumption. At the same time, the desire to eat sweets doesn't disappear, which drives a person into a state of psychological discomfort. Sooner or later, restrictions lead to breakdowns, overeating, guilt, and even eating disorders. So the answer is moderate consumption. Then the need to please yourself with sweets will be satisfied, and the body will be happy and healthy.