What are simple sugars?
We commonly divide the main carbohydrates of food interest are commonly into simple and complex carbohydrates; the former are also known as simple sugars, when in reality it would be more correct to call them simple carbohydrates or just sugars.
This category includes monosaccharides, such as glucose and fructose, and disaccharides, such as sucrose, maltose and lactose.
They are sweet-tasting, water-soluble, crystallizable, easily digestible and generally rapidly absorbed (monosaccharides are absorbed as such, disaccharides are first hydrolysed to monosaccharides at the brush edge of the intestinal villi).
The complex carbohydrates are instead amorphous, tasteless, insoluble, with a very high molecular weight and slowly digestible.
Simple sugars can be classified into available, i.e. usable by the body, and not available, i.e. not digestible, absorbable and metabolisable (e.g. lactulose, xylose, xylitol, mannitol and sorbitol). Most of the simple sugars of food origin are available and cariogenic (causing caries). Therefore, a diet characterised by a reduced consumption of simple sugars (sucrose, to put it in the cappuccino and cream) is useful but not decisive in the prevention of dental caries, since complex sugars, then degraded by saliva into simple sugars highly nutritious for plaque, are present in almost all foods (pasta, rice, potatoes, bread, etc.).
Simple sugars can also be classified in relation to their chemical structure: according to the number of carbon atoms that compose them, they are divided into trioses (3 carbon atoms), tetroses, pentoses and hexoses (6 carbon atoms), while according to the functional group they are divided into aldoses (CHO) and ketosis (CO).
Simple sugars in the diet
The intake of simple sugars should not exceed 10-12 percent of daily energy; therefore, in a 2500 Kcal diet, these nutrients should not be consumed over 60 to 75 grams per day.
This dietary rule is based on the consideration that, because of their rapid absorption, simple sugars can abruptly raise blood sugar levels with pancreatic fatigue.
This gland, in fact, is forced to produce and release considerable quantities of insulin into the bloodstream to cope with hyperglycemia (excessive concentration of glucose in the blood); the massive release of this hormone ends up causing an abrupt drop in blood sugar (see reactive hypoglycemia), which is a powerful stimulus to the onset of hunger.
Therefore, simple sugars taken in enormous quantities are absorbed so quickly that the individual feels hunger even before the body has used them for energy purposes.
Given the wide availability of food, the individual is prepared to ingest enormous quantities of simple sugars again, ending up taking in more calories than he consumes.
The inevitable result is overweight, with all the negative consequences of the case; even in the short term, glycemic changes are harmful, as they cause drowsiness and a drop in concentration and intellectual performance.
The main sources of simple sugars are carbonated soft drinks, sweets, fruit juices, table sugar, honey and certain types of fruit (candied fruit, figs, grapes, chestnuts, dates and dried fruit intended as dried fruit, such as raisins, and not dried nuts, such as nuts and nuts).
To reconnect with the glycemic repercussions of simple sugars, it is necessary to make a due clarification on refined and unrefined sugars.
The former are obtained by extraction and purification from vegetable sources such as cane or beet; white table sugar is the most classic example.
All these simple carbohydrates, widely used in the confectionery industry (they are added to pastries, carbonated drinks and various sweets), provide “empty” calories: the food, in fact, contains only energy and is devoid of the very important non-energy component (fibre, minerals and micronutrients).
Thee simple, unrefined sugars of sugary fruit are accompanied by a myriad of antioxidants and soluble fibres, which slow down their absorption at intestinal level; as a consequence, with the same weight, the post-prandial glycemic peak is more contained.
If you want to know more about, read our other articles on the wikifit section!