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The importance of sugar in our daily life

Sugar is a type of carbohydrate that is found in many foods, drinks, fruits, vegetables and dairy products. Sugar comes in a variety of different forms, from naturally occurring sugars like fructose found in fruit and honey or lactose found in dairy products to sucrose (table sugar) we add to our tea or coffee or use in baking. 

Sugar is often viewed as a source of empty calories that should be avoided in order to maintain a healthy diet; however, sugar provides sweet taste and enjoyment to foods and drinks and provides numerous functional benefits in food that are often overlooked. A bit of sugar within a healthy balanced diet is OK.

Sugar can be a quick and efficient source of energy for the body
Sugar can provide a relatively quick, palatable source of energy that helps us in times of low energy. Sugar can be particularly helpful for athletes or individuals who engage in high levels of prolonged physical activity and can help improve performance and endurance. 

When we participate in high-intensity or endurance exercise, our bodies also use glycogen, a stored form of glucose in the muscles and liver. Consuming sugar can help to replenish glycogen stores and delay fatigue during times of prolonged exercise.

Sugar can help to regulate mood
Sugar can also affect our mood by increasing the levels of serotonin and dopamine in our brain. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that regulates mood and behaviour, and dopamine is often referred to as the "feel-good" neurotransmitter because it is associated with pleasure, reward, and motivation. The release of dopamine can create a temporary mood boost and enhance feelings of happiness and well-being. This is why many people turn to sugary foods (also called comfort food) as a form of emotional comfort during times of stress or sadness.

Of course, these physical effects can also be obtained from other carbohydrate-containing foods such as fruit and yoghurt, but its OK to enjoy sugary foods with emotional comfort like lollies and chocolate to help you feel good from time to time - just don’t overdo it.

Sugar adds flavour to many foods
Sugar adds flavour and sweetness to many of the foods and drinks we consume, making them more enjoyable and palatable. It helps to balance out the acidity in certain foods, making them more pleasant to eat and can balance out bitter or sour flavours and provide a sense of balance to the overall flavour profile of the food.

As well as enhancing flavour, sugar also adds texture to create a desirable mouthfeel in certain foods. This is common in foods such as baked goods and desserts. As an example, sugar helps to create a tender and moist texture in cakes and biscuits whilst providing a crisp texture in caramelised desserts like crème brûlée or apple crumble.

Sugar plays an important role of adding enjoyment in our daily lives and provides numerous benefits that are often omitted from conversations about nutrition. It is important that we consume sugar in moderation and choose sources of sugar that are nutrient-dense and provide other health benefits. By choosing these types of foods, we can enjoy the many benefits of sugar without compromising our health.

 

References

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0166223613001306

https://europepmc.org/article/med/29772560

https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-1-4899-6515-8_4

https://europepmc.org/article/med/3316904

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