Slow and Steady vs. Fast Burst when Consuming Sugar
There’s a lot of focus on added sugars, particularly regarding snacks for kids. We get the message that added sugar is bad, but do we know why?
At the heart of this answer is the speed at which a body will process the sugar.
Added sugars are processed quickly by the body resulting in a huge surge in blood sugar. In response to this burst of blood sugar, the pancreas produces a large amount of insulin. The liver is the only organ that can digest fructose, so when it becomes overworked, it simply converts the rest of the sugar into fat.
After the fast sugar rush, blood glucose levels drop quickly (sugar crash) leaving in its wake feelings of hunger and irritability and craving for more sugar.
Compare this to the impact of natural sugars found in fruits. Natural sugars are accompanied by protein, fiber, minerals and vitamins that the body requires to metabolically function and stay healthy. They are processed more slowly to maintain a healthy blood glucose level.
So what exactly is added sugar? A fairly common added sweetener is rice syrup. It sounds relatively healthy because rice is good, right? Rice syrup is made by cooking rice and subjecting it to natural enzymes, which separate out the natural protein and turn the rice's starches into sugars. The sugars produced are glucose, maltose, and maltotriose. The sweet liquid produced is then boiled and reduced down into a syrup.
This illustration breaks down the process:
And this illustration shows the types of equipment needed to make rice syrup: