What is the difference between natural sugars and refined sugars?
Ogars in all their forms are simple carbohydrates that the body converts into glucose and uses for energy. But the effect on your body and your overall health depends on the type of sugar you’re eating, whether it’s natural or refined.
We wanted to explore the difference between these types of sugar as a follow up to our post on whether sugar stimulates cancer growth, which has received many comments. Once again, we turned to one of our oncology dieticians for a trial.
Natural sugars are found in fruit, such as fructose, and dairy products, such as milk, and cheese, such as lactose. Foods containing natural sugar play an important role in the diet of cancer patients and anyone trying to prevent cancer because they provide essential nutrients that keep the body healthy and help prevent disease.
Refined sugar comes from sugar cane or sugar beets, which are processed to extract sugar. It is usually found in the form of sucrose, which is a mixture of glucose and fructose. We use white and brown sugars to sweeten cakes, cookies, coffee, cereal, and even fruit. Food manufacturers add chemically produced sugar, usually high-fructose corn syrup, to foods and beverages, including crackers, flavored yogurt, ketchup, and salad dressing. Low-fat foods are the worst, as manufacturers use sugar to add flavor.
Most of the processed foods we eat add calories and sugar with little nutritional value. On the contrary, fruit and unsweetened milk contain vitamins and minerals. Milk also contains protein and fruits are rich in fibre, both of which keep you feeling full for longer.
The way the body metabolizes sugar in fruit and milk is different from the way it metabolizes refined sugar added to processed foods. The body quickly breaks down refined sugar, which causes insulin and blood sugar levels to rise. Because refined sugar is quickly digested, you won’t feel full after you’ve finished eating, no matter how many calories you’ve consumed. The fiber in the fruit slows down the metabolism, as the fruit expands in the intestines to make you feel full.
But there is a warning. Once the sugar passes through the stomach and reaches the small intestine, it doesn’t matter if it comes from an apple or soda.
How much sugar is actually in your blood will determine how your body uses the sugar. If you already have a lot of sugar in your system, what you just digested will form fat or glycogen, the storage form of glucose used for quick energy. It doesn’t matter whether it’s fast food or fruit.
We eat more refined sugar today than our parents and grandparents did three decades ago, leading to increased rates of obesity among adults and children. Obesity has been linked to some types of cancer, including breast cancer, prostate cancer, uterine cancer, colorectal cancer, and pancreatic cancer. On the other hand, fruits that are high in antioxidants (blueberries, raspberries, raspberries, strawberries, and apples) can reduce the risk of cancer. The fiber in the fruit, which is mainly found in your skin, suppresses the appetite to prevent overeating and weight gain.
Our Oncology Dietitians recommend eating whole foods that are low in refined sugar. Whole foods refer to foods that are not processed, such as fruits and vegetables, or that are not minimally processed, such as whole grains.
The big picture is to be at a healthy weight and make healthy food choices. It’s about eating whole foods, lean proteins, and complex carbohydrates like quinoa instead of white bread and non-starchy vegetables. Focus on consistently making good food choices every day, not on a single piece of cake that you took as a gift.
Learn about the benefits of good nutrition while caring for cancer patients.