Should we do away with sugar?

Last Updated : 29 October 2010, 11:57 IST
Last Updated : 29 October 2010, 11:57 IST

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The fact is that sugar per se is a source of “empty” calories —  it provides no nutritional value aside from energy,  but it certainly isn’t the dietary villain it is made out to be.

There’s one organ that runs almost entirely on sugar: the brain. The brain needs glucose to function properly. Sugar keeps the brain active. It is fuel for the body to function throughout the day.

The hormone called ‘insulin’ is required for sugar to be used as fuel. Insulin is produced by the pancreas and it helps sugar move from the bloodstream into the cells which require energy.

Diabetes, a metabolic disorder, is not caused by consuming carbohydrates, including sugar. It is caused because the body is not able to produce enough insulin or is unable to properly use the insulin that is produced. Both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes disrupt the body’s ability to convert blood glucose (commonly referred to as blood sugar) into energy. The result is that too much sugar stays in the blood stream and not enough sugar gets into the cells of the body where it can be used as fuel.

The need is to manage one’s diet along with some physical activity.

Myths and facts

Myth 1: Eating sugar causes diabetes.

Fact: Type 1 diabetes is caused due to the destruction of more than 90 per cent of insulin-producing cells present in the pancreas. This is not related to sugar consumption. In Type 2 diabetes, the pancreas produce insulin, sometimes even at higher than normal levels. However, the body develops resistance to the effects of insulin, so there is not enough insulin to meet the body’s needs.

Myth 2: Diabetics can never eat sweets.

Fact: Diabetics can eat a certain amount of sugary food as part of a balanced diet, but they need to control the total amount of carbohydrates they eat. Sweets provide only calories, no nutrition. So, sweets should be limited but not eliminated.

Myth 3: A low-carb diet is good for diabetics.

Fact: Carbohydrates are preferred by the body as a source of energy. Low-carbohydrate diets are often overloaded with proteins and fats. Following a high-fat, high-protein diet over the long term may increase the risks of heart or kidney disease. People with diabetes should adopt a meal plan that helps them in balancing carbohydrate consumption with medication and exercise to control diabetes.

Published 29 October 2010, 11:57 IST

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