Belief #3 – Sugar is toxic
Are you considering a “sugar detox”?
Are you attempting to “go off sugar”?
Are you “addicted” to sugar?
Do you feel that sugar is “toxic”?
I cannot tell you how much of my nutritional education and work has been devoted to all of the above. And I cannot think of a personal health pursuit of mine that has not been rooted in attempting to eliminate “sugar” from my diet and life. Why is it so hard? Why do I ALWAYS fail with sugar?
The majority of my education, lower, higher, and continuing, have been rooted in answers. I was taught to listen, remember, recite, and replicate. I was inexplicably never taught to question. As a science major, I now find that baffling.
Over the last few years, I’ve spent almost the entirety of my educational, professional, and personal time, questioning. I question EVERYTHING! And that’s precisely what brought me to an incredibly important nutritional question, “What is sugar?”
What is Sugar?
We’ve been conditioned to think of sugar as this…
When it’s MUCH MORE ACCURATE to think of it like this…
Paraphrasing the Royal Society of Chemistry, from just 3 elements, carbon, hydrogen and oxygen, molecular compounds like monosaccharides (e.g. glucose) and disaccharides (e.g. sucrose) are formed. They are often called sugars.
The term “sugar” is most commonly used to refer to sucrose or table sugar. Technically, however, the term sugar refers to the simple, water-soluble molecules: monosaccharides and disaccharides.
Among the monosaccharides, there are glucose, fructose, galactose, xylose, and ribose.
Sucrose, which is glucose + fructose, is a disaccharide.
(C) Carbon, (H) Hydrogen, (O) Oxygen These 3 elements account for 98% of the human body by atomic percent
Where are edible “sugars” formed and found?
Elmhurst College Virtual Textbook clearly notes, “Sugar or more specifically sucrose is a carbohydrate that occurs naturally in every fruit and vegetable. It is the major product of photosynthesis, the process by which plants transform the sun’s energy into food.”
John E Lunn, Max Planck Institute of Molecular Plant Physiology states, “Sucrose (sugar) is one of the main products of photosynthesis and the most common transport sugar in plants.”
Glucose, Fructose, and Sucrose (sugars) are the carbohydrate molecules found in foods like melons, berries, beets, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, broccoli, even the beloved kale. Fruits and vegetables = sugar. Oh My!
Another dietary source of sugar is lactose, found in milk, which is a disaccharide of glucose and galactose. Also maltose, malt sugar, which is a disaccharide of two glucose units. The larger digestible carbohydrate molecules, polysaccharides, are found as starch. Starch is a long chain of glucose molecules, found in foods like wheat, rice and potatoes.
Monosaccharides and Disaccharides, the sugars, and polysaccharides, like starch, are carbohydrates.
Carbohydrates are one of our 3 macronutrients.
What is a macronutrient?
According to the University of Illinois McKinley Health Center, “Macronutrients are nutrients that provide calories or energy. Nutrients are substances needed for growth, metabolism, and for other body functions. Since “macro” means large, macronutrients are nutrients needed in large amounts. There are three macronutrients: Protein, Fat, and Carbohydrate.”
Table sugar is an isolated source of a macronutrient (carbohydrate).
Do I use (or Have I ever used) isolated sources of other macronutrients with positive results?
This isolate (of fat) is considered to be very healthy.
And this isolate (of protein) is also considered to be very healthy.
And this isolate (of micronutrients) is considered to very healthy as well.
But this isolate (of carbohydrate) is considered a lethal drug!?!?!?!?!?
What role do sugars play in the human body?
The Royal Chemistry Society strictly states, “(The single sugar) Glucose is the most important carbohydrate fuel in human cells.”
Iowa State Human Sciences says, “The roles of carbohydrate in the body includes providing energy for working muscles, providing fuel for the central nervous system, enabling fat metabolism, and preventing protein from being used as energy. Carbohydrate is the preferred source of energy or fuel for muscle contraction and biologic work.”
New World Encyclopedia cites, “Glucose and its metabolites are also used to assist in the generation of the five-carbon (pentose) sugar ribose for the synthesis of nucleotides, the building blocks of the DNA… The addition of sugar chains may function to assist proteins in folding into their characteristic three-dimensional structure, to enhance the stability of proteins and membrane lipids, or to act as recognition sites for specific chemicals.”
What about Fructose?
According to Encyclopedia Britannica, “Phosphate derivatives of fructose (e.g., fructose-1-phosphate, fructose-1,6-diphosphate) are important in the metabolism of carbohydrates.”
Glycogen is the storage form of glucose (glucose is kind of a big deal). An inability to store glycogen is associated with diabetes. Glycogen is stored in either the muscles or liver. Fructose not only can greatly replenish hepatic glycogen (liver stores of glycogen), but can be highly stimulating of the synthesis and storage of glycogen. Glucose and Fructose are botanically found together, they chemically bond together, and work quite well together, biologically and physiologically.
Can I “go off” sugar?
All living cells contain sugar. Sugar provides energy for all cellular processes. Sugars provide building blocks for DNA, as well as, structural and functional support to fats, proteins, and each cell of the body. You aren’t addicted to it. You require it.
Have you ever heard, “dose determines the poison”? Toxic is not an element, it’s an amount. Everybody needs sugar because everyone’s body uses sugar. Some people may generally need less, while others may generally require more. And everyone’s needs will change from day to day, to some degree. But no one’s body functions without it.No entity is inherently poisonous, including sugar. Sugar is not toxic.
Detoxification (and elimination) are organismic, organ system, glandular, and cellular processes. Detoxification is one of the integral and on-going process of life…that requires sugar. You don’t detox from sugar. You detox with sugar.
Table Sugar is simply and sweetly carbohydrate, isolated. Food oil, protein powder, and multivitamins are all isolated nutrient sources. And along with a wide range of lesser processed and lesser refined macronutrient food sources, I use fat, protein, and multivitamin isolates all the time. In some form or fashion, I use each of them everyday. But each day my requirements are different.
I now guiltlessly and healthfully use sugar, too. But like fat, protein, vitamins and minerals, I only use so much, because I only need so much. How much might you need? How might your needs change?
Sugar doesn’t have to make you feel bad, and you don’t have to feel bad about sugar. Be willing to find out how much you need.
How might you know? Be experimental. If you’re hungry for sugar, try a bit of the kind you’re craving.
How might you measure your results? Through your response. After having a bit of carbohydrates, ask yourself, “do I feel better…or do I feel worse?”
Hopefully now that you understand a bit more about the science of carbohydrates, you can be experimental and not feel as bad as I once did…every time I had a carbohydrate.