First of all, the title of this post is a fantastic song. Secondly, hi 🙂
In case you haven’t heard it:
As amazing as Def Leppard is, this isn’t the focus of my post aujourd’hui. I wanted to talk about real sugar and clear the air about all the different kinds of them floating around out there today.
There are three main simple sugars (aka important carbohydrates) that we are most familiar with: sucrose, glucose and fructose. These days, sugar has gotten a bad reputation, mostly due to the big wig food companies adding a ton of bad sugars in the processed food so many people eat to sweeten them and increase flavor, as well as and trick our brain receptors into wanting more of their crap.
However, sugar is found naturally in whole foods – so we do have a silver lining! The issue is that your tongue can’t distinguish between these sugars, so a lot of misinformed people don’t know which is good or bad off the bat, but your body can tell the difference. All sugars provide the same amount of energy per gram, but they processed and used differently throughout our bodies.
So far so good, yes? Just to clarify: sugars are a simple carbohydrate – and carbohydrates are a macro-nutrient that we must intake for our body to function at its best… in the proper amount, that is.
Anyway, let’s move on to the structures of sugars.
Simple carbohydrates are classified as either a) monosaccharides or b) disaccharides.
Monosaccharides, as you can guess from the “mono” prefix, are the simplest and most basic units of carbohydrates, and they are only made up of one sugar unit. Monosaccharides are building blocks for disaccharides, which are basically two linked sugar molecules (or monosaccharides) with a water molecule removed.
What To Know: Fructose and Glucose are monosaccharides, and they are building blocks of sucrose, which is a disaccharide.
I hope I haven’t lost you yet! Now I want to break it down and focus on the three simple sugars; glucose, fructose and sucrose.
Also known as blood sugar, this is your body’s preferred energy source, and the most important monosaccharide. Your body processes most carbohydrates that you eat into glucose in one of two ways: either immediately for energy or to be stored in your muscle cells or liver (as glyocen) to be used later.
For those of you who have diabetes or blood sugar problems, listen up: insulin is secreted primarily in response to elevated blood concentrations of glucose, and insulin is what facilitates the entry of glucose into cells.
Fructose is a sugar that is found naturally in a multitude of fruits and vegetables, but it is also what is added to sugary drinks like soda. Fructose has a different metabolic pathway than other sugars and is not the preferred energy source for your lovely muscles and brain – so stay away from sugar drinks and snacks!
Fructose is only metabolized in the liver and it is more fat-producing that glucose. It also doesn’t cause insulin to be released (where glucose does), so leptin – a key hormone for regulating energy intake and expenditure isn’t stimulated. No bueno.
So basically, when you have high intakes of dietary fructose, concerns will arise because it behaves more like fat in the body rather than other carbohydrates.
You all most likely know sucrose as table sugar; it comes from either sugar cane or sugar beets. Sucrose is also naturally found in fruits and vegetables. When you consume sucrose, an enzyme beta-fructosidase separates sucrose (remember, it’s a disaccharide) into its individual sugar units, also known as the monosaccharides glucose and fructose, where both sugars are taken up by their individual transport mechanisms.
When you have sucrose and it has been broken down, your body will respond to the glucose in its normal manner, but at the same time, fructose is finding its way into your body. Your body will use glucose as its main energy source with all the excess coming from fructose, but if it is not needed, then the fructose starts becoming fat, which is further stimulated by your body releasing insulin due to the glucose.
… PHEW! So that was a lot. I hope I didn’t melt your brains. I’m no scientist myself, so I tried to break it down as best I could in the simplest manner. I hope this helps all of you get a slightly better grasp on the sugars, and which you should best try to avoid *cough fructose*
Enjoy your weekend, my dears!