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Is It Necessary To Have Sugar?

 

Most of us label sugar as the biggest evil today. We try our best to eliminate it from our diets and feel guilty whenever we ocassionally give in. But did it ever occur to you if these white crystals that were once an inseparable part of our daily diets, may not be that big an evil as they are touted to be? Well, the question did occur to us and we started digging further…

You’d be surprised to know that World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends having 6-12 teaspoons of sugar every day, much contrary to what most nutritionists and health experts believe.

Let us first distinguish between different kinds of sugars, artificial sweeteners, sugarcane extracted crystallized sugar and natural sugars (sugar we get from our foods and fruits).

Crystallized sugar: This is the sugar we consume on a daily basis. We add a spoonful in our milk, tea, coffee, desserts and often foods like dals and subzis.

Artificial sweeteners: These are sweeteners like stevia, saccharin, sucrose and aspartame, most commonly renamed as “sugar-free” substitutes for dietary sugar.

Natural sugars: All vegetables, seeds, fruits have natural sugar content in them. These vary from food to food and are often the safest kind of sugar to be consumed.

In India, we most commonly consume sugar which comes from sugarcane, and hence, is actually beneficial for us. However, the processed and packaged foods which contain sugar extracted from high fructose corn syrup, is the dangerous kind and should be avoided as much as possible.

According to nutritionist Shalini Singhal, we don’t require sugar. “Our body processes glucose from sugar but the same glucose can be extracted from starch, protein and fats that we consume, when required by the body. One should focus on including high fiber diet, which has complex carbohydrates.”

The theory of not consuming sugar has been given in many diets such as GM diet to reduce weight. But this negatively affects our body since our body needs glucose to generate energy.

In her blog, Rujuta’s gyan, celebrity nutritionist Rujuta Diwekar has spoken about the many ways in which we end up consuming sugar unknowingly in the form of processed foods like juices and flavoured yoghurts. Her blog reads as follows: Sugar to India is as ancient as Yoga and Ayurveda itself as it firmly occupies the position of being one of the panch amrits of nectars of life.

According to Rujuta, sugar is not dangerous but rather the way it is consumed has changed in recent years.

While there are many health experts that argue that sugar is the biggest diet evil due to its long term damaging effects, a major part of this debate cropped up in 2016. The debate spoke about which is a bigger evil: fat or sugar. While many theories argued that fat can be burnt in the body due to high metabolism rate, sugar on the other hand, can lead to health issues which cannot be controlled so easily.

Some common health problems caused by sugar are obesity, dysfunctional metabolism, liver damage. Excess sugar can even affect your insulin and leptin resistance. Therefore, the consumption of sugar is not the issue, but rather the quantity in which it is consumed.

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