I’m not a fan of any sort of dietary methods that label a food as being either healthy or unhealthy.
I look at foods and nutrients like I look at tools. The value and benefits they potentially bring depends upon your ability and need to use them. Any tool can be both very useful and completely worthless depending upon the application just as any food or nutrient can be healthy or unhealthy depending upon your ability to use it.
Sugar tends to be on that ever growing list of foods that people claim is bad for us. To me, if sugar is really that bad then we must not have much need for it, but anyone with even a shred of nutrition and exercise science knowledge knows that’s not the case at all.
Simply put, you live off sugar. It’s the only fuel source you can run on. Ask any diabetic and they will tell you that a lack of sugar in the blood can cause a number of bad effects all the way up to death. To put it bluntly, sugar keeps you alive and healthy.
Does that mean you need it in your diet? Hell no! But rest assured even if your diet is 100% free of sugar your body will make it from the other foods you eat. You can’t run off of fat, until you convert it to sugar. You can’t live off of protein, unless you chop off that nitrogen atom and then convert it into sugar. And all of those folks who claim that whole wheat and complex carbs are nothing more than complex forms of sugar are 100% correct. All of those whole wheat breads and high fiber cereals are turned into sugar, just like anything else you eat.
Some will say that something that’s 100% pure sugar is devoid of nutritional value but I highly disagree. Since when is the nutritional value of a food based just on it’s vitamin and mineral content? All of the vitamins and minerals in the world won’t keep you alive, let alone healthy, unless you have some sort of calories to convert into simple sugars to run off of.
Sugar is the most pure and refined source of fuel you can consume as a human being. It’s like high octane fuel for your body. Sugar is to other, more complex sources of calories, what rocket fuel is to crude oil. Maybe the term super food isn’t right, so I’m going to start calling it super fuel instead.
Super foods are great, because they deliver a whole lot of nutritional value, including something you can convert to sugar. But sometimes what you want is pure, refined rocket fuel.
There’s also a lot of folks saying that we humans didn’t evolve with a lot of sugar in our diet and thus, can’t handle the sugary high carb diets that seem to plague our modern society. I’ll certainly agree we didn’t evolve a digestive tract that can easily handle a box of milk duds and a jug of soda at the movie, but our ancestors had diets very high in sugar.
Just think about the latest dietary trends all based on natural types of foods. As the recommendation goes, if it didn’t grow in a field or walk around don’t eat it. Just one look at such a diet screams sugar city! All of those fruits and vegetables don’t get their calories from proteins and fats. Almost all of their calories are from the most direct result of photosynthesis which are simple sugars. You could argue that such plants supply fiber rather than sugar, but once again we’re just back to more complex forms of sugar. That whole ripening process that fruits go through is simply the breakdown of fiber into sugar. That’s why fruits are sweeter and juicier when they are ripe. All of that fiber broke down into sugar. Sure you can argue that’s there’s a lot less sugar in an apple than a candy bar, and you would probably be right, but it’s simply another point made for the case that it’s the quantity that’s the issue, not the sugar itself.
And then you have things like meat, but where do you think the calories in the protein and fat came from? Those animals got it from those plants that were almost entirely sugar. So fat and protein came from sugar, and it will turn back to it once we need to use it for fuel.
Now don’t get me wrong and start thinking I’m suggesting people start eating more sugar because it’s a super fuel. Remember, it’s only healthy if your body has a use for it. In today’s society it’s a good bet that most folks are eating more sugar, and calories in general, than they need. Most of us are filling our fuel tanks with high octane while just sitting on the launch pad every night watching TV. Cut back on it, but not because it’s bad but simply because you’re fuel tank is topped off and you keep trying to put more of it in. However it’s equality irresponsible of me to blindly suggest that you should eat less sugar just as it would be for me to suggest you eat more of it. Sure, it would be safer to assume you should eat less, but do you want to base your dietary well being on assumptions and guesses or something a little more accurate?
The great thing about sugar is that it’s potent. It has an effect, either positive or negative, that is easier to be aware of than say vegetables or fish oil supplements. Therefor it’s easier to dial in just how much you should eat in your diet. Play around with the quantities you eat and their sources. Your physical reactions will tell you everything you need to know. If you feel good then rock on. If you crash or feel bad then cut back. Just like all modern medicine, sugar can both hurt or it can heal. The effect is in the dose and you’re the only one who can figure out just how much you should consume of Nature’s most potent super fuel.