Sweet misconceptions towards sweet preferences

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Sugar undoubtedly has been getting a bad reputation lately and has been blamed for everything to do with obesity, heart diseases, kidney diseases and many more health issues. Is it the truth or is it a lot of what we hear as misinformation? 

Of late, the sugar industry appears to have been fueled with the question whether the flagged health issues would make any impact on the consumption of sugar nationwide. However it seems that misconceptions about sugar is turning into health experts’ next scapegoat, so a stalwart of the Indian sugar industry found that there’s no better time to clarify the biggest myths about sugar. 

Speaking at the Annual Convention and Sugar Expo 2019 which happened on 29th and 30th May 2019, Mr.Narendra Mohan, Director of National Sugar Institute schooled the delegates on how people have been living with misconceptions of sugar saying that, “In this era of revolutionization, the present generation’s preferences towards food consumption have changed to a greater extent. Nowadays, the trend is that consumers want healthier food with “clean label” food commodities with shorter list of ingredients and minimal processing. 

The exponential drift in consumer’s sweet preference has led many of them wanting reduced-sugar products with clean-label and greater taste thereby creating a huge challenge for industries. Environmental conscious and socially responsible food consumer’s expectation for firm’s ethical conduct, food quality and anxieties over food risks are all increasing. At the same time, consumers want to make a difference with their purchases. This has resulted in an abundance of food standards, certifications and labels with claims concerning socially responsible production characteristics, graphic origin, organic status and other attributes, as firms try to position their products in the market for high value foods. 

He added by emphasizing one the various misconceptions associated with sugar

Artificial sweeteners are better than sugar
Although artificial sweeteners like Stevia, Truvia and aspartame (as found in diet sodas) have fewer calories than their sugary counterparts, research shows that participants who drink diet soda are twice as likely to be obese than those who do not. A study published in the National Library of Medicine found that saccharine – an artificial sweetener – is more addictive than cocaine. Another study published by the American Diabetes Association found that diet soda drinkers were 67 per cent more likely to develop diabetes that non-diet soda drinkers. 

Sugar causes cavity
The most cavity causing food is crackers and brads, not candy. When we eat something with sugar, bacteria that naturally reside in your mouth consume this sugar as well. Bacteria’s waste product is acid, so after we have a meal, they excrete acid. Acid decalcifies or demineralizes tooth enamel by taking away its structure, creating decay. 

Eliminate sugar from your diet entirely
We all need sugar, that’s the basic block of what runs our bodies. It’s necessary to survive. Sugar is toxic in any form, regardless of calories or weight. That said, eliminating all sugar from our diet would be almost impossible. Fruit, potatoes and other starchy foods all have high glycemic indexes, so one has to eliminate all of them before their sugar intake was whittled down to nothing. 

Sugar causes diabetes
The main reason why people think that eating sugar would cause diabetes is probably due to historical diet advice. The reason may also be due to the colloquial name for diabetes mellitus, which is ‘blood sugar’ or as it is, said “too much sugar in the food”. 

Evidences showing that sugar have any unique attribute that results in the development of diabetes are barely convincing. What does predispose a person to diabetes is genetics, being overweight and leading an unhealthy lifestyle such as not doing enough physical activity and poor eating habits. Avoiding sugar will not stop a person from getting diabetes. According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive Kidney Diseases, a person is more likely to develop diabetes if he/she is overweight, as extra fat leads to insulin resistance.  If you have a family history of diabetes, the best way to avoid developing diabetes is to be physically active; having good eating habits and avoids weight gain. 

Sugar causes weight gain or obesity
This is one of the most debatable topics over the social media and elsewhere. As we eat our carbohydrates, insulin is released. This insulin regulates blood sugar level by allowing it to be stored in the liver, muscle and fat cells. It is also said to hinder fat burn and promotes fat storage. Fiction says that sugar increases insulin, this stops the fat breakdown and thereby leading to weight gain and obesity. While the fact is that insulin increases only in response to a meal, the changes associated with the fat gain or fat breakdown happens only in the hours after a meal. It is said that a breakdown of fat exceeds the storage of fat during our sleep and in between our meals. Therefore, it is concluded that regardless of amount of sugar intake, only those diets allowing calorie deficit (i.e. expending more energy than we can take in) will result in weight loss.

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