Natural VS Synthetic Sugars: How Do We Digest Them?

Sugar is a naturally occurring compound found in plants, fruits, vegetables, and animal products. These sugars are referred to as natural sugars. Synthetic or complex sugars are made by those guys in laboratory jackets and are often formed by combining natural sugars.

What’s important is that depending on which type of sugar you consume; each is digested differently and can directly impact our health. Sugars in their simplest form don’t need to be broken down before your body can use them. They’re absorbed directly into your bloodstream, primarily through your small intestine. However, complex sugars must be broken back down into their simple form before they can be absorbed.

Synthetic or Complex Sugar Types

Sucrose

Better known as table sugar- the type we would use in our tea and coffee and often added to most desserts. Sucrose is made from glucose and fructose. It is first extracted from the sugar cane or sugar beet.

Hang on – table sugar comes from a plant? So it must be somewhat healthy to eat right?

Not necessarily. Without delving too deeply into the mind-boggling science behind sugars, sucrose is a complex sugar. It’s made up of two parts so it’s hard to digest. 

In fact, the two parts glucose and fructose don’t work well together at all. Glucose increases the amount of fructose that is absorbed into the body when we eat. So, the excess of fructose ends up piling up an excess of fat compared to when the two sugars are eaten separately.

This is why consuming too much sugar causes problems like high blood pressure, inflammation, weight gain, diabetes, and heart attacks.

Glucose

Glucose is the body's preferred source of carbohydrate sugar. If you are interested in sports, you may be familiar with the term. It’s often the glycogen stores that need to be replenished after strenuous exercises like running. Glucose is the type of fuel your body is asking for to restore these glycogen levels. It does this by raising blood sugar levels quicker than other sugars which stimulate the release of insulin.

Consuming glucose-rich carbohydrates (such as bread and potatoes) in moderation is beneficial because it allows your body to control your blood sugar levels.

Fructose

Fructose = Fruit Sugar.

It is found naturally in most fruits, vegetables and honey. It can also be extracted from these natural sources to make added sugars or create sucrose. Out of the three sugars, fructose tastes the sweetest but least impact on your blood sugar.

Like glucose, fructose is absorbed directly into your bloodstream. It’s not as wild as glucose, raising your blood sugar levels at a more gradual pace and does not appear to immediately impact insulin levels. This makes fructose foods safe to consume in moderation. For example, snacking on a banana.

Be careful not to overdo it though. Just because fructose naturally occurs in fruits doesn’t mean you can go and eat 10 bananas with no negative consequences. (We know some of you out there would try) Your liver has to convert fructose into glucose before your body can use it for energy, so eating too much around your other meals can raise the risk of metabolic syndrome, fatty liver disease and increase blood triglyceride levels. Like all sugary foods, moderation is key!

Lactose

Yes- dairy has its own type of sugar! Milk sugar, also known as lactose, is found in most animal milk and dairy products. It’s another complex sugar that is naturally formed but made from glucose and galactose. Because it is a natural complex sugar, it is easier for us to digest than sucrose and can be found in processed foods as well as in pills and medications.

Some people's bodies are unable to break down lactose into its component sugars resulting in lactose intolerance. Something that currently affects around 30 to 50 million Americans. It is nothing to worry about, but the great thing about vegan products is that they are perfect for someone that struggles with this kind of intolerance.

Conclusion 

It’s known that sugar can have negative health effects on our bodies including acne, weight gain, and heart disease. From this list, you can see that there are some healthy sugars alternatives that are a better alternative to the not-so-healthy table sugar. These sugars contain a higher nutritional content than standard table sugar and have way more vitamins. Consuming a diet high in whole foods and low in processed foods is the best way to avoid added sugars.

At MiiRO we love Stevia because it’s a natural sweetener so we can feel free to heavily indulge in all those stevia sweetened goodies. Stevia has no negative effects on blood pressure, so we really can let loose and go sweet crazy. 

Ultimately, choose the sugar alternative you enjoy the most. It’s about feeling your best at the end of the day.

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