Recent media was full of face wrinkling ‘news’ that sugar is toxic. That left many people who have always believed a spoonful of sugar makes a lot of things better – suffering. Unnecessarily we should add, so let’s get a little perspective.
Lead is toxic, which surprises no one. So is water – in the right quantities. Yes, water. In the last couple of decades of ultra endurance events – triathlons, ‘double-century’ bike rides and ultra marathons – we found that athletes consuming only water during these events diluted their sodium balance in the blood so much that they became seriously ill. By contrast, athletes who consume fluids containing sugar actually perform longer and better.
One important oversight is what exactly do we mean by ‘sugar’. All fruits and vegetables that grow above the ground in their natural state – apples, oranges, tomatoes, for instance – have sugars bound up with fiber, minerals, vitamins and antioxidants. Eating lots of these ‘sugars’ has been shown in thousands of studies from all over the world to be really good for you!
The sugars in pastries, sodas and lots of other stuff that comes in brightly colored packages just isn’t the same stuff, and it’s hardly news that too much of that is not good for health. The sugars in fruits and veggies are complex, unrefined and healthy; the sugars in pastries and sodas are simple, refined and less healthy – but not toxic.
But that’s not the biggest problem, anyway. Few people will be aware that most of the calories in a seemingly wholesome bran muffin are fat calories. Or that it takes a lot more fat calories to leave you feeling ‘satisfied’; that’s why you don’t stop with just a few potato chips. Or that one rounded tablespoon of peanut butter has the same number of calories – nearly all fat – as about three apples.
Apples, full of all those sugars [the complex ones] keep the doctor away!