Sugar, Spice, and Everything Nice

Nutrition Health & Wellness
By: Brooke R. and Olga G. September 28, 2017

Before we know it, the holidays will be fast approaching, and this can mean a slew of things to many of us; a time to gather with our family, sharing gifts with loved ones, and lots and lots of food.

With all of the delicious homemade options available to enjoy, it is certainly helpful to keep an eye on how much sugar we are consuming with every tasty treat we indulge in. Here we dive into sugar, spice, and everything nice so we can better understand all that makes life so sweet!

Simple Sugars 101


  • Classified as either monosaccharides or disaccharides.
  • Monosaccharides are the simplest units of carbohydrates that are made up of only one sugar unit.
  • Glucose and fructose are monosaccharides and are the building blocks of sucrose.
  • Sucrose is a disaccharide that are just a pair of two monosaccharides are joined together and a molecule of water is removed.


  • Body’s preferred energy source.
  • Circulates in the blood, and relies on the enzymes glucokinase or hexokinase to initiate metabolism.
  • Body processes most carbohydrates into glucose, either to be used immediately for energy or to be stored in muscle cells or the liver as glycogen for later use.
  • Due to sucrose insulin is secreted primarily in response to elevated blood concentrations of glucose, and insulin facilitates the entry of glucose into cells.


  • It is not the preferred energy source for muscles or the brain.
  • It is only metabolized in the liver and relies on fructokinase to initiate metabolism.
  • It does not cause insulin to be released or stimulate production of leptin, a key hormone for regulating energy intake and expenditure, therefore it is more lipogenic, or fat-producing, than glucose.


  • Sucrose is obtained from sugarcane or sugar beets.
  • Sucrose is a disaccharide consisting of a mixture of monosaccharides glucose and fructose.
  • Fruits and vegetables also naturally contain sucrose.
  • During consumption, the enzyme beta-fructosidase separates sucrose into its individual sugar units of glucose and fructose. The body will use glucose as its main energy source and the excess energy from fructose, if not needed, will be poured into fat synthesis, which is stimulated by the insulin released in response to glucose.


What is High Fructose Corn Syrup?

One of the primary sources of calories for the American population is sugar, specifically high fructose corn syrup. According to Wikipedia, high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) (also called glucose-fructose, isoglucose and glucose-fructose syrup) is a sweetener made from corn starch that has been processed by glucose isomerase to convert some of its glucose into fructose.

HFCS is widely found in processed foods, baby formulas, and beverages such as soda, sport drinks, and highly pasteurized fruit juices made from concentrate. Due to technological advances in the 1970s, fructose derived from corn has become extremely cheap to manufacture, and you need to use a lot less of it per recipe than sucrose, due to its intense sweetness. Given its industry advantages, it has quickly become a lot more widely used in the manufacturing of processed foods. High fructose corn syrup has become an ideal solution when it comes to slashing cost, however, it has grown to be a detrimental threat to our health.


Sucrose & Fructose Health Risks

Sugar takes a devastating toll on your health. In fact, excessive sugar consumption may be the largest factor underlying obesity and chronic disease in Western civilization. Here is a a list of negative effects it has on your health:

Mood Swings Due to its ability to be digested quickly, sucrose & fructose can spike blood sugar, and is often followed by a sharp decrease. The sudden rise and fall in blood sugar often affects mood, causing sudden swings of irritability and fatigue.

Liver Damage – Unlike glucose; the entire burden of metabolizing fructose & sucrose falls on your liver, where excess sugar is quickly converted into fat and overhauls your liver with it.

Insulin Complications In the case of sugar consumption, a large amount of insulin is produced to transfer the glucose to muscle cells where it can be utilized and burned. Over time, excessive high insulin can result in the damage of insulin receptors, causing high blood glucose. This could eventually lead into developing type 2 diabetes.

Weight Gain – Due to its simple molecular structure, glucose & sucrose are released into the blood faster than they can be burned. Triggering strong sweet cravings, causing people to eat more than needed or initially intended.

Tooth Decay Sugary items that remain on your teeth foster an environment for bacteria to significantly multiply. As the bacteria feeds on the sugar, it is acid-forming which can eventually eat away at tooth enamel, leading to decay and tooth loss.

Other Devastating Complications  As mentioned before, sugar is the primary cause of non-alcoholic fatty liver, and it does not end there. As a byproduct it elevates uric acid, which causes blood pressure to rise, puts stress on your kidneys, and eventually leads to the chronic, low-level inflammation. This inflammation is at the core of most metabolic related chronic diseases.

Sugar Consumption Trends in America Over the Past 300 Years

  • In 1700, the average person consumed about 4 pounds of sugar per year.
  • In 1800, the average person consumed about 18 pounds of sugar per year.
  • In 1900, individual consumption had risen to 90 pounds of sugar per year.
  • In 2009, individual consumption has risen to 180 pounds of sugar per year.
  • In the recent years it has been reported that more than 50 percent of all Americans consume one-half pound of sugar per day.


It is recommended to limit your daily fructose and sucrose consumption to less than 25 grams per day. If you have a sweet tooth craving, try any of the following:

  • Consume a fruit
  • Snack on dried fruits (floss shortly after eating and rinse with water to prevent tooth decay)
  • Have a smoothie, smoothie bowl, or dessert from Raw Republic:

Remember to read labels thoroughly. It is possible that sugar and other health hazardous sweeteners may be hidden in the packaged food you are buying, and before you know it, you consumed more fructose and sucrose that you anticipated.


Sweetener Do’s & Dont’s

Sweeteners that fall under the “Do’s” category are either not harmful, or manageable for your body to process naturally (and in some cases, even come with added benefits).  

Any that fall under the “Dont’s” section points to those harmful additives that can be detrimental to your health.

The ones we don’t mention stay in the unidentified gray area between these two polar opposites.