There is a lot of misleading nutrition information about simple carbohydrates, also known as sugar, and as a result some people avoid foods that contain this nutrient. The reality is that simple sugars are absolutely necessary for the body to function properly. Glucose, a simple sugar, is the brain’s preferred source of fuel and adequate intake helps individuals stay focused and can even provide a calming effect. Regardless, you may have heard someone say it does not matter if it is sugar from fruit or a soda, it still acts the same in my body and thus he or she avoids simple carbohydrates whenever possible. The truth and good news for us is that not all simple sugar sources are created equal and thus they do not function the same way in the body. When the body consumes a simple carbohydrate or any food for that matter our blood sugar rises and to counteract this rise a hormone called insulin is released to help sugar leave our blood and get into our cells. This mechanism helps bring our blood sugar back to an acceptable level.
Different types of simple carbohydrates promote different blood sugar spikes thus result in varying levels of insulin surges. For example, when you consume a soda, your blood sugar spikes, creating a surge of insulin which can also promote fat storage. When you consume fruit which has fiber and other vitamins and minerals or milk which contains protein your blood sugar is not only less effected but will rise more steadily thus avoiding a surge of blood sugar and insulin. A steady rise and fall in blood sugar is ultimately more healthy for your body. Also, when blood sugar rises rapidly as is the case with soda or candy, it also falls very quickly and this can lead to increased cravings for energy rich foods that tend to be high in fat and sugar. Bottom line; be sure not to avoid foods just because they contain sugar. Aim to consume several quality sources of sugar such as skim milk, Greek yogurt & fresh or frozen fruit daily.
Research Assistance Provided by: Sarah Volling