Here’s a riddle. What’s sweet, sweet and…. sweet? We consume it everyday, kids love the taste of it and it can mostly be found in your favourite hot drink.
The answer is SUGAR! We have it so often but have you ever wondered what it is?
What’s sweet to you?
Sugar actually refers to a group of simple carbohydrates. And most food contains carbohydrates, which will then be broken down into simple sugars by our body, to provide us with energy needed for our daily activities,
The sugars in simple carbohydrates consist of glucose, sucrose (table sugar) and fructose.
Fructose, usually found in fruits, vegetables, honey and commercial sweeteners is the sweetest of them all.
The ones we add in our coffee or tea is sucrose. It can be from sugar cane or sugar beets and they exist in different forms, for instance, icing sugar, sugar syrup or rock sugar. But none of these sugars have been proved to be healthier than the rest.
Those are simple carbohydrates, but there’s also complex ones, which comprise starch, found in potatoes, rice, wheat, and corn; and glycogen, found in meats such as livers or muscles.
Complex carbohydrates take longer to digest and break down into simple sugars for use in our body.
Sweetness: a warm and fuzzy feeling!
Whether complex or simple, carbohydrates are finally digested into simple sugars and make their way into your bloodstream via your intestines. These sugars will then transported to the cells of your muscles for use as energy.
The energy (read: sugar) you can’t use will result in your liver transforming them into fats, as an energy store for future use. And if you don’t use those energy stores, why, you just keep on piling on fat, especially around your abdominal area!
That’s why less sugar means more health, and too much sugar (carbohydrates) can result in more than a bursting waistline.
The key chemical that controls blood sugar levels in your body is insulin, an essential hormone needed to convert sugar, starches and other food into energy.
Some people develop a condition in which their body is unable to produce or properly use insulin, resulting in failure to transport glucose into cells, thus increasing blood sugar levels (a condition known as hyperglycaemia). The result is diabetes mellitus.
One of the common symptoms of a diabetic is increased levels of sugar in his urine - the sugar is not removed by the kidneys because they are unable to remove the high amounts of sugar in his blood.
Diabetes can cause serious problems. It can result in chronic illnesses such as blindness, kidney failure and heart disease, as glucose cannot reach cells in critical places like your eyes or extremities.
Diabetes is a serious condition that warrants immediate attention. You might have diabetes if you:
The trouble with diabetes is the complications that can develop.
Left to its own devices, the most common diabetes known as type 2 diabetes can result in kidney failure (requiring dialysis or a kidney transplant), nerve damage, blindness, and poor healing of wounds, which can lead to gangrene and hence amputation of limbs.
The icing on the cakeDiabetes is often part of metabolic syndrome, a combination of medical deficiencies that increase your chances of developing cardiovascular disease, hypertension, strokes, and of course, full-blown kidney failure.
You are likely to have metabolic syndrome if you have abdominal obesity, elevated blood pressure, glucose intolerance or insulin resistance.
Treatment for all the above will first involve exercising more, eating less carbohydrates, and losing weight.
You might think a life without sugar is not much of one.
But there are replacements. Artificial sweeteners (or what is called ‘pseudo-sugar’) utilise very small amount of the composite required to produce the necessary sweetness in your mouth. As they do not overload your body with empty calories but instead help with diabetes control and weight loss, they are generally a good choice for you.