Introduction  
  What is food?  
  What happens to the food we eat?  
Our nutrient needs  
  Energy balance  
  Nutritional status
  Laws & labels  
  Additives & colours  
  Toxicity in food  
  Processing food  
  Stability of food nutrients  
  Storage life of foods  
  Food- associated health problems  


 


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- Special Nutritional Situations -

SUGARS AND HEALTH

Sugars, and particularly sucrose, are often referred to as 'empty Calories' because they lack significant amounts of vitamins, elements (minerals) and trace elements and just provide us with energy. Some people may overeat because of their desire for sweetness. In trying to reduce weight, often the most obvious foods to exclude are sweet foods and the use of sugar. This lowers the energy intake without significantly affecting the intake of vitamins and elements. But it is not the sweet foods and sugar alone that cause people to be overweight, rather it is overeating.

People who do not like or eat sweet foods can also be overweight. Indeed, obese people often eat less sucrose than others. It may be harder for these people to find a way to reduce safely their food consumption. It should also be remembered that fat and alcohol have more energy per gram than sugar and other carbohydrates. Sugar is often used to make fatty foods, for example icecream, more palatable and interesting. Obesity, resulting from excessive overeating, is associated with a number of disorders, which include high blood pressure, gallbladder disease, diabetes mellitus Find out more about this term and heart disease.

Dietary carbohydrates and in particular sugar play an important role in tooth decay. Carbohydrates allow certain micro-organisms present in plaque (a mass of micro-organisms on the tooth surface) to produce organic acids, which demineralize teeth and cause decay. It appears that the frequency of eating and the form the sugar is in, are more important in causing decay than the actual amount consumed. Sugar in sticky foods such as caramels and toffees promotes tooth decay to a greater extent than when eaten in meals or consumed in drinks.

There are three steps that can help reduce the risk of tooth decay:

  • reduce the intake of sugar and other carbohydrates particularly in sticky foods, and between meals
  • increase the resistance of teeth to decay by fluoride treatment
  • brush teeth after meals.

Honey is sometimes used as a substitute for sugar. Honey contains about 45 per cent fructose, 34 per cent glucose, 20 per cent water and small amounts of organic acids and other constituents. It is possible that these minor constituents in honey could have medicinal or toxic effects. Like all sugars, honey, raw sugar, brown sugar, dextrose, glucose syrup and refined sugar are not significant sources of nutrients other than carbohydrate, which provides only energy.

See also:

Medications that alter nutritional needs

 

 

Food Facts
- Assessing your own nutritional status
- Water balance
- Special nutritional situations
- Medications
Sugars and health
- Diet and lifestyle
Figures:
16: Several ways to assess your nutritional status
17: Are you too fat?
18: Water input and output
19: Nutritional needs of particular health conditions
20: Some medications that may increase nutritional needs
21: Dietary intake and culture or lifestyle

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