#37 Busting Sugar Myths

bariatric surgery success podcast beyond bariatric surgery podcast

HOST: Registered Dietitian Nutritionist Dr. Susan Mitchell 

Do you think agave syrup and honey are better for you than high fructose corn syrup or sugar? You hear so many conflicting opinions on added sugars that’s it confusing and you don’t know what to believe. Right? Let’s bust some sugar myths. 

Hi, I’m registered dietitian nutritionist Dr. Susan Mitchell. You’re listening to the Beyond Bariatric Surgery podcast episode number 37. This is the last podcast under the Beyond Bariatric Surgery name. If you listened to last week’s podcast on why avocados should be on your plate regularly, you heard that this podcast has always been about making your transformation and your journey the best it can be. Because your success is my number one focus, the podcast is getting a new name that fits this focus better. Next week the Beyond Bariatric Surgery podcast will transition to it’s new name, Bariatric Surgery Success. The podcast will provide the tools you need for your transformation. As we work on topic ideas, I would love to hear from you about the tools you need, questions you have, and topics you want to know more about. If you haven’t already, you can contact me easily from the homepage of our website. You’ll see ‘contact us’ at the top of the page and I do read all of your emails.

Website: https://BreakingDownNutrition.com 

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Ok let’s bust some sugar myths. Do any of the sugar darlings of the internet such as agave syrup or honey deserve a health halo? Probably not. I know what you’re thinking. Isn’t agave made from the same plant as tequila? Yes it is. Agave nectar or syrup is popular to sweeten teas and health drinks and is used by chefs in desserts and cocktails. The darker syrup is good on pancakes or waffles. There’s even a raw version for raw foodies. But that doesn’t make it better.

#1 of the three things to know. Agave is one more sweetener choice in the ‘added sugars’ category that already includes honey, maple syrup, sugar, raw sugar, and high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) among others. The word ‘sugars’ refers to all of these. Agave and sugar have almost the same number of calories per teaspoon.

You may have heard that agave syrup and honey are more 'natural' than other added sugars such as high fructose corn syrup or white sugar. Remember that the word ‘natural’ has no legal definition and means whatever you want it to mean. Actually, most added sugars have very similar processing methods which leads us to myth #2. 

Let’s bust it. Sucrose or what you know as white sugar along with HFCS, fruit juice concentrate and agave nectar all undergo the same manufacturing processes. These processes include extraction, filtration, enzyme treatment and concentration. This may surprise you but because of these manufacturing processes, one choice is no more natural than another.

Busting myth #3. First a little scienceb101. Digestion and absorption of sucrose and HFCS differ only slightly. Sucrose or sugar is comprised of one molecule of fructose and one molecule of glucose stuck or bonded together. With HFCS (as well as honey and fruit juice concentrate), fructose and glucose exist in free form, not bonded. They do not require this glucose-fructose bond to be broken in the small intestine. However, and this is the big take away. Once the digested sugars reach the bloodstream via absorption, this difference disappears and sucrose and HFCS are absorbed the same way. When any of these sugars are digested and reach the bloodstream, any differences disappear and the glucose and fructose act the same way in the body. 


  • Deliver the same sugars
  • At thesame ratios
  • To the same tissues
  • Within the same time frame
  • To the same metabolic pathways

So the body doesn’t see them differently. What does this mean to you? It’s all about personal preference. Natural means what? Whatever you want it to mean. Your choice for added sugar should be based on personal preference.

Remember none of the added sugars get a health halo. There are all sugars. After bariatric surgery and for your journey, less is more when it comes to added sugars. Because they just love to cause trouble in your gut, they’re known for causing symptoms of dumping syndrome….nauseas, bloating, diarrhea, sweating, abdominal cramps, etc. You likely know exactly which you may have experienced. So going back to what does that mean to you? There are a lot of names for added sugars so be sure and read labels closely. You’ll see many more names like beet sugar, molasses, nectar and others. The first three to five ingredients make up the majority of a product so see where the added sugar falls in the ingredient list. Keep added sugars to zero or a minimum. Aim for no more than 5-10 grams or one to two teaspoons. Remember that 4 grams equals one teaspoon and there are 4 calories per gram so 5 grams is about 20 calories. You may find you cannot tolerate added sugars at all without dumping symptoms or you may tolerate a very small amount. The feedback I hear in groups on dumping syndrome after added sugar intake really varies person to person. Give yourself time after surgery before adding it yourself or thru food with added sugars.This is a long term smart strategy, not just after surgery. 


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