Let’s talk about sugar. Just about everyone says that it's bad for you, but what are the facts behind that? Even fruits and veggies contain sugar; does that mean you really shouldn’t be eating them? How does sugar affect your body? Let’s break this down. The important thing to remember is that sugar is nearly as essential for your body as oxygen is. If you had no sugar in your body, you wouldn’t be able to move your muscles, due to a lack of energy-producing glucose. Without this, your heart wouldn’t beat, your lungs wouldn’t take in oxygen, your brain wouldn’t be able to function, etc. So, instead of trying to remove all sugar from your diet, you should be removing all bad sugar. There is a definite distinction between good sugar found naturally in fruits, vegetables, milk, and grains, vs the added sugar that is found in nearly all processed foods.
These days, everything from vitamin water to beef jerky contains added sugar (sugar that was not naturally a part of the food or beverage, but was instead added during processing and production.) This added sugar isn’t natural, no matter how companies label it and try to convince people that it is. If you extract sugar (fructose) from an apple, and add that to a protein bar, that bar has added sugar. But if you cut up the whole apple instead and place it inside of the bar, without adding any refined sweeteners, that bar is naturally sweetened. Your body will process the apple’s vitamins, nutrients, and fiber along with the apple’s natural sugar, and your body will benefit from it.
On the other hand, if you eat anything loaded with added sugars, whether that sugar is called “brown rice syrup", "fruit juice concentrate", "brown sugar", "corn syrup", "cane sugar", "glucose", "dextrose", "sucrose”, or a host of other names, it will have a negative effect on your body. First, the sugary food touches your taste buds, and they send signals to the reward center of your brain, making it release dopamine, which in turn makes you feel pleasure, giving you a temporary high. This chain of events is what makes added sugar addicting... just like alcohol, nicotine, and other drugs.
Once inside of your body, the sugar seeps into your bloodstream, causing your pancreas to secrete insulin, in order to get the sugar to the cells that need it. This would normally level out your blood sugar, but many processed foods contain so much added sugar that it can’t be used all at once. The excess sugar is converted into fat and stored in your body. Over time, with a diet high in added sugar (daily sodas for instance), your body stores up more and more fat - not just around your middle, but in and around vital organs like your heart and liver. This is where things get very serious; this buildup of fat can lead to diabetes, heart disease, liver disease, cancer, and many other health issues.
Although this is a simplified explanation of the dangers of added sugars, you can see why knowledgeable doctors are warning people to stay away from these processed sugars, and instead satisfy a sweet tooth with fresh, whole fruit or unprocessed, raw honey.
Bottom line: don't do away with the benefits of whole fruits in your bid to implement a sugar-free diet!