Why sugar is not toxic

Why sugar is not toxic

on Wednesday, 10 December 2014. posted in nutrition

Sugar in excess is not great for your health, and I personally don’t eat a lot of added sugars in my day. But does this mean I buy into the ‘sugar is toxic’ saga? No!

I get asked about this topic a lot, and I think it is important to understand that yes, we could all do with eating less sugar, but we can’t blame just one nutrient for our obesity problem. So thought I would share some knowledge with you.

A short explanation of where this came from: Yes, it is technically correct to say that glucose (sugar) unregulated in the blood stream is toxic. But you CANNOT say this without an explanation … because when blood glucose is high in a healthy person, it does not stay high! Your insulin levels take care of this and it does not cause any problems. It is how the body is designed to work. A healthy person WILL NOT have blood glucose toxicity from eating sugar in the diet.

High blood glucose (or sugar toxicity as some like to put it!) happens when the body has too little insulin or when the body cannot use insulin properly. This can happen in people with diabetes or metabolic syndrome. Insulin is a hormone that regulates blood glucose when you eat and helps turn it into energy for the body to use. In cases like diabetes when the body cannot make enough insulin, it is taken by injection or an insulin pump. But in healthy people without this unfortunate problem, blood glucose toxicity does not happen.

So you can see that it is completely irresponsible to say that ‘sugar is toxic’ without explaining the role of insulin preventing toxicity.

Yes, added sugar is not great for you and I don’t condone eating lots of processed food or sugary treats, but you already know this! I also know this. I also know that fatty processed foods are not great for our health. So I choose not to make a habit of eating processed food products, be it potato chips or meat pies, skittles or doughnuts. But, when I do consume something with sugar in it, I don’t stress! I don’t let it worry me because I know all the ‘sugar is poison’ is just hype, and I continue with my normal balanced eating. It is not healthy to look at a type of food as ‘bad’ or ‘toxic’, as this can cause cravings, binging and disordered eating.

In fact, I eat sugar every day! I eat around 2 pieces of fruit, I have some milk, some plain or Greek yoghurt. Sometimes it is in food when I eat out, or when I’m low on time like pre-cooked meals, soups or sauces. There is even some sugar in vegetables. Some times I have a little jam or honey. I am not scared of sugar, it is in lots of healthy foods.

It’s not hard to tell that lollies, mars bars, cakes, biscuits, and processed (packaged) foods & sauces are not great for your health. They often have just as much fat in them as sugar! And obviously sugary soft drinks & beverages aren’t very healthy either, they just add unnecessary calories to your day.

But the bottom line is that sugar is not toxic, and we can’t naively blame just one nutrient for our obesity problem. We could all do with eating less sugar, but obesity is from over consuming food in general. Don’t over eat, eat mostly fresh whole foods, especially vegetables and you can sometimes enjoy a little sugary, or fatty indulgence, and still be very healthy.

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