So you know that sugar is something to enjoy in moderation. Yet, you’ve also heard that it comes in all shapes, sizes & disguises. So really – what is the difference?
Sucrose, glucose & fructose are all simple sugars (a form of carbohydrate). Sugar is naturally found in whole foods & is often added to processed foods in order to add sweetness & flavour.
Each of these types of sugars provides the same amount of energy per gram & yet each are processed differently by the body.
Simple carbohydrates are given two different classifications: monosaccharides or disaccharides.
Monosaccharides are made up of a single sugar unit & are the most basic of carbohydrates –thus they are often called simple carbs.
Disaccharides describe a pair of linked sugar molecules. They are formed when two monosaccharides are joined together & a dehydration reaction removes a water molecule.
Both glucose & fructose are monosaccharides. When mixed together, they form sucrose a disaccharide.
Glucose is the body’s preferred source of energy. Glucose is also referred to as blood sugar as it circulates within the blood stream & relies on the enzymes glucokinase or hexokinase to initiate metabolism.
Most of the carbohydrates you eat are transformed into glucose in order to be used for immediate energy or else the body stores it in the muscles or liver sells as glycogen for later use.
Insulin, which helps to facilitate the entry of glucose into cells is primarily secreted in response to elevated glucose levels.
Fructose is naturally found in fruits & vegetables & is added to most beverages such as soft drinks (soda) & fruit-flavoured drinks.
The biggest difference between fructose & other sugars is the way the body processes it. As glucose is the preferred source of energy for the muscles & the brain, fructose is only metabolised in the liver & relies on fructokinase in order to initiate metabolism.
Fructose is also more lipogenic, meaning that it is more likely to be stored in the body as fat than glucose.
Sucrose is obtained from either sugar beets or sugar cane & is most commonly known as table sugar.
Sucrose is naturally found in vegetables & fruits. When you consume sucrose the enzyme beta-fructosidase divides sucrose into individual sugar units: glucose & fructose each of which are processed differently by the body.
The body will use the glucose pulled from the sucrose first as its main source of energy. If excess energy is needed it will be taken from the fructose or – if it is not needed – it will be stored as fat.
The Bottom Line…
While it’s always good to limit ‘unnatural’ (processed food) sugar intake as much as possible – you can now identify which type of sugar you are consuming when you eat processed foods & if it will do you more harm or more good.
The amount of sugar that you consume on a daily basis will affect your sleep-wake cycles, body fat percentage, muscle tone, mood, ability to concentrate & focus, how quickly you age & ultimately how long you live.
This is a cyclical process that once broken can begin to take you on an upward virtuous circle. A positive ride toward greater health, vitality & an optimal state of being.
Remember to check the labels to see which sugars are part of the ingredients. Do your best to avoid ingredients that end in ‘ose’ whenever possible.
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