Click here to print this page

Planning Retirement Online

Health Food of the month - Sugar

November 2018


Pile of brown and white sugar cubes
Sugar can come in different forms

Previous Health Foods of the Month...

Pumpkins

Bananas

Gooseberries


 

Diet & Supplements Index

Sugar – nature’s gift of sweetness

It is great when we hear the odd bit of good news...and it was good news indeed when a report came out from a leading American doctor that sugar is good for us...well at least for our brain.

Dr Drew Ramsey is assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York and he agrees with what most of us know, that cutting down on sugar can lower our blood pressure, decrease a risk of heart attack and make us less likely to develop dementia...to say nothing of helping us maintain a healthy body weight.

But Dr Ramsey also says that sugar does offer certain benefits as well including a positive effect on our brain.

He explains that our brain is the biggest user of sugar in our body. Evidently brains use up 400 calories of glucose every day.

“Sugar: It’s loved. Feared. Blamed. But most of all, it’s misunderstood,” he said. “Let’s set the record straight: I’m a physician who specializes in brain health, and I think sugar is a miracle.
“It’s the singular molecule on which all life on Earth depends, the beginning of the energy in our food supply. Your greatest assets: grit, gifts, creativity...all run on it.”

Dr Ramsay believes, however, that of the 400 glucose calories your brain needs every day, only a quarter of this should come from your daily sugar intake...about 30 grams of sugar a day. Seven sugar cubes gives you an indication. The rest of the sugar should come from carbohydrates.

He also points out that while you need sugar, there is a key choice to be made on where you source the sugar from. Fructose is the sugar found in many artificial processed foods and isn’t a lot of use to your body. What you need is natural sugar, the sugar found in honey, maple syrup and fruit.

There are many different types of sugar and this alone can be confusing. There are also various misconceptions. For instance brown sugar is often considered better for one’s health; but while it does contain tiny levels of calcium, potassium, iron and magnesium, these are at such small levels that really there is no difference nutritionally between brown and white sugar.

The common sugar most of us have in our homes for cooking comes from sugarcanes or sugar beet.

Most sugar making processes involve removing the juice from the plant, then boiling and filtering it before it is spun. This produces raw sugar crystals which contain molasses. Depending on the processes after that, you can obtain various brown sugars or completely white sugar when the molasses has been removed completely. White sugars generally come in granular or the finer crystal form called caster sugar although other types are available such as icing sugar or preserving sugar.

Generally the types of sugars can be categorised as follows:
Fructose: found in fruits and honey
Galactose: found in milk and dairy products
Glucose: found in honey, fruits and vegetables
Lactose: found in milk, made from glucose and galactose
Maltose: found in barley
Sucrose: made up of glucose and fructose and found in plants
Xylose: found in wood or straw

Most people love sugar and it can make you happy. This is because the rarest amino acid in our food is tryptophan which is used to help produce serotonin. One of the things sugar can do is to help transport this serotonin into our brain.

Sadly though you can get too much of a good thing! As Dr Ramsey is very careful to point out, while we all need sugar for brain health; we do only need 400 glucose calories a day. Stocking up on chocolate won’t do the trick, and there is clear evidence that too much sugar can not only harm your teeth but also cause numerous health problems.

The following site gives a good summary of the results of too much sugar:
healthline.com/nutrition/too-much-sugar


 


Bookmark This Share on Facebook Receive more like this

 

Latest Articles:

Health food of the month: Barley

field of barley

While barley is still popular in America, here in the UK barley, apart from its use in beer making, no longer features highly in modern life.

This is a shame as it is a super nutritious food that offers all sorts of great benefits.

more

AXA Health:
Food allergy or intolerance?

Allergy or intolerance

Confusion around food allergies and intolerances is not unusual, with many of us growing wary of certain foods we believe might be the cause of unwanted symptoms – leaving them out of our diets ‘just in case’. But should we – are true allergic reactions to food far less common than most of us imagine?

more

White wine might also have health benefits

Glasses of wine

There have been some interesting reports in recent media about the health benefits of white wine and how white as well as red can provide good levels of antioxidants and other benefits.

more

Gene therapy – The future of our health

Gene therapy

Gene therapy is hugely exciting. Whether it will fulfil its promise and in future years produce terrific treatments for many health problems we don’t know but at the moment, although still in its early stages, the results are very encouraging.

more

Back to LaterLife Health Section

Visit our Pre-retirement Courses section here on laterlife or our dedicated Retirement Courses site

Bookmark


Advertise on laterlife.com



LaterLife Travel Insurance in Association with Avanti