A while ago sugar was called “the new tobacco” by a UN official. That’s no surprise at all, considering all the dangers and risks a diet high in sugar poses to our health. It is clear that, to stay healthy in the long run, sugar should only be a small part of your daily diet. But can you go sugar-free? Is it possible to eliminate a whole group of nutrients from your diet?
Let’s make it clear: what is sugar?
The term “sugar” can be confusing. When people think of it, they see a white (or brown), granular product that you put in your coffee to sweeten it. But this is only one of the many forms sugar is present in your diet. It’s actually refined sugar (because it’s extracted from a plant source and refined to be as pure as possible). And yes, you caneliminate refined sugar from your diet.
Can you go completely sugar-free?
In short, the answer is “no”. There are many types of sugars that you consume each day, often without even knowing. And I’m not talking about added sugar in your foods, but their natural sugar content.
- Glucose is the simplest form of sugar and the one that’s digested the easiest. The carbs you eat are broken down by your body into glucose, which then is turned into glycogen, the “fuel” it needs to function.
- Fructose is another simple sugar, naturally present in fruits, vegetables, honey. It is processed in a different manner than glucose – by the liver, not the small intestine, like in the case of glucose.
- Lactose is, as its name suggests, found in milk. It’s a complex molecule, formed of glucose and galactose, that has to be broken down by lactase (a specific enzyme) to be absorbed by the body.
To go completely sugar-free, you’d have to not only eliminate refined sugars from your diet, but any other food that contains it. Which means not only no sugar but no plant-based foods in general, no milk and dairy – in short, a diet consisting entirely of lean meat and water. Which works for felines and other predators, but doesn’t work for an omnivore like yourself.
Giving up on refined sugar
That’s a completely different matter altogether. You can – and you should – reduce your refined sugar consumption to the minimum. But you can’t – and shouldn’t even try – to eliminate sugar completely from your diet.