Sugar. There is a lot to do. Proponents opponents. In this article all background information about sugar. You get an answer to what it is exactly, where it is all in, where sugar comes from, whether it is addictive and whether sugar is good or bad.

Sugar, also called sucrose, is a sweet substance that occurs naturally in foods. It belongs to the carbohydrates. Sugar is added as a seasoning to processed products such as soft drinks, chocolate, sweets and pastries. In addition to sugar, syrup and honey are also used to sweeten products. Syrup and honey also contain sugar.

Natural sources of sugar

Sugar occurs naturally in foods such as fruit, corn, sugar cane and sugar beet. There is also milk sugar (lactose) and fruit sugar (fructose). Potatoes and grains also contain sugars in the form of starch. Sugar made from cane or beet sugar is called granulated sugar.

There are different types of sugar. Common are:
Granulated sugar (from sugar beet or sugar cane) 
Glucose syrup (liquid sugar) extracted from, for example, corn, potatoes or wheat 
Glucose fructose syrup (liquid sugar) 
Honey 
Syrups (such as maple and agave) 
Fruit (such as apples and oranges) naturally contains sugar. 
Milk is also naturally present in milk (milk sugar or lactose).

What does sugar do in your body?

Sugar provides energy to get through the day. For example, it ensures that you can think and move. But there are no vitamins, minerals and fiber in it.

Living without sugar

We do not know exactly how much or how little sugar you should or may eat. There are no official opinions on this in the Netherlands. Do you want to watch your weight? Then do not eat it too often and too much. If you want to eat less sugar, look carefully at the label. There are many products to which sugar has been added, even if you cannot easily recognize that on the label. Living completely without sugar is difficult. Sugar also occurs naturally in products such as fruit and milk.

Energy from other products

Energy from sugar is quickly available and can be used for, for example, your brain and muscles. If you want to get your energy from other foods, such as whole-grain products, your body needs longer to absorb it.

Are certain sugars better than others?

Some people think that honey, cane sugar or agave syrup is better for you than regular granulated sugar because it would be ‘more natural’, but that is not true. Granulated sugar is also a natural product, it comes from sugar beet or sugar cane. If you zoom in on all these types of sugar, you will see that they all actually consist of glucose and fructose. 
All sugars contain approximately the same number of calories. Fruit syrup, maple syrup and honey contain slightly fewer calories because it also contains water.

Processing of sugar by the body

All types of sugar (including honey and syrup) are processed by the body in the same way. Sugar is broken down in the gut into glucose and fructose and then absorbed into the liver via the bloodstream. The liver converts fructose into glucose, which is used for energy supply.

Do you get fat from sugar?

You don’t get fat on its own. Eating or drinking too much sugar can contribute to the development of overweight, but if you do not use it too much and too often, you will not get fat immediately. It’s about the balance. Half of all sugar that we get in the Netherlands comes from extras such as sweets, cakes, pastries and soft drinks. And your body doesn’t need that. So a lot of profit can be gained there.

Relationship overweight and sugar

A lot of research has been done into the relationship between being overweight and (liquid) sugar. An example of this, which clearly demonstrates the relationship, is a large study among Dutch children. This showed that children who drank a can of sugary soft drinks every day for a year and a half, gained more weight than children who received a sugar-free drink.

Is sugar bad for you?

You can’t say that. Some people claim that there is a connection between sugar and fatigue or hyperactivity. But this is not scientifically proven. How come it seems that way? If you eat too much sugar, you run the risk of not getting enough other nutrients. This can cause you to get tired or develop bowel complaints such as diarrhea. Children can behave more restlessly. Or it may have to do with the circumstances. At a party, children may already be busier themselves.

Beware of too much fructose

You have to be careful with too much fructose (fruit sugar). Some people experience bowel problems when they ingest more than 50 grams of fructose such as bloating and thin stools. This is especially the case with young children who drink too much apple juice. Apple juice contains a relatively large amount of fructose, around 5 grams per 100 milliliters.

Holes and tooth decay

If you often choose products with sugar, then the chance of holes in your teeth is high. To prevent tooth decay it is best not to eat or drink anything with sugar more than 4 times a day, outside of the 3 main meals. This also applies to other foods, because acids from fruit can also cause tooth erosion.

Is sugar addictive?

No. If you do not eat sugar, you will not get any withdrawal symptoms, such as with drugs, alcohol or nicotine. You also don’t eat more and more to get the same (pleasant) feeling. We also have no greater need for sugar if we have not eaten it for a while. 
Furthermore, having binge eating is sometimes associated with an addiction. Often this is not an addiction, but has to do with boredom or stress. Moreover, during binge eating, not only sugar, but also fat is eaten.

Tips for getting less sugar

Drink preferably water 
Do not put sugar in your coffee or tea 
Do not drink too many fruit juices, because this also contains sugar 
Sugar-rich soft drinks can be replaced by variants without sugar 
Eat fewer cookies, chocolate, candy and pastries 
There is also sugar in the products that you buys. Look on the label when you buy something. 
There are many different names for sugar, which are not all very easy to recognize. Examples are: dextrin maltose, glucose syrup, fructose syrup and glucose fructose syrup.