It’s no secret that eating copious amounts of sugar won’t help you to achieve your summer body, but does this mean you should cut your fruit intake in order to reduce the amount of sugar you’re ingesting? The molecular structure of sugar remains the same whether it comes from refined sugar or natural sugar, but this doesn’t make both kinds of sugar equal. We explore the difference between refined sugar and natural sugar to help you choose between that bowl of strawberries or that extra cookie.
How does refined sugar affect the body?
Have you ever wondered why your skin still looks dull, inflamed and full of blemishes, despite religiously sticking to your skin care regime? It could be down to your love affair with sugar. The spike of insulin you experience when you consume sugar causes inflammation throughout the body and also breaks down collagen, paving the way for wrinkles. Sugar is also behaves like an osmotic diuretic, causing the skin to become dehydrated and produce more oil- causing an increase in breakouts.
If you consume too much refined sugar, you’ll exceed your liver’s glycogen stores, causing the body to convert the excess glycogen into fatty acids and deposit them around the body, causing weight gain. It’s easy to over-indulge on refined sugar due to the fact that it’s incredibly addictive. When you consume sugar, there’s a surge of dopamine in the brain- similar to the effects of taking recreational drugs. The body will then continually seek out sources of refined sugar in order to release more dopamine into the brain- this is why you’ll find yourself craving sugary foods when you’re feeling down. The surge of dopamine also counteracts the body’s digestive hormones, making it more difficult to feel satiated after consuming refined sugar, making you more likely to overeat- it’s a vicious circle.
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When the bloodstream has too much glucose in it, the body stops burning fat and starts to burn the glucose in the body; causing insulin resistance, a slowed metabolism and can lead to type 2 diabetes. Insulin also plays a key part in the regulation of cell growth within the body and if the levels of insulin are constantly elevated from the over-consumption of sugar, there can be a rapid growth of cells within the body; leading to cancer.
Natural sugar vs Refined Sugar
Refined sugar can be found in most processed foods, including; cookies, cakes, yogurts, cereal and soft drinks, whereas natural sugar is found in unprocessed foods such as; fruit, honey and dates. The problem with refined sugar is that it is added to foods in copious amounts and offers absolutely no nutritional value, making you more likely to overeat. Refined sugar is quickly broken down by the body, causing spikes in blood sugar levels, meaning that you won’t feel full- even if you just ate 1000 calories worth of sugar.
Natural sugar can be found in small quantities in unprocessed foods like fruit, alongside an abundance of nutrients, water and fiber- making you less likely to gorge on these foods, thus, consuming less sugar. The fructose and fiber in fruit is also harder for your body to break down and digest, so you actually use up energy to digest these foods and feel full in the meantime.
In order to reduce your consumption of refined sugar, there are a few easy food swaps you can make:
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- Get your chocolate hit from natural dark chocolate instead of your usual sugar-filled chocolate bar. Dark chocolate is a lot richer than milk chocolate, so you’ll need a lot less to satisfy your chocolate cravings!
- Infuse your water with fruit instead of sipping on fizzy drinks and juice
- Swap your sugary cereal for oatmeal, which will keep you satisfied right up until lunch time- without those 11am hunger pangs!
- Swap your processed peanut butter for the natural no added sugar variety.
- Just craving sugar mid-afternoon? Step away from the vending machine and reach for a piece of fruit or handful of nuts to satisfy your cravings.
You may want to limit the amount of refined sugar in your diet; but adding it to your skincare regime can leave you with gorgeously exfoliated, radiant skin- check out the range of sugar scrubs at SkinStore.