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Types of Natural Sugars

Sugars, also called saccarides, represent a type of carbohydrate. Sugars are often made up of carbon-based rings, which can be linked together to form more complex carbohydrates, such as starch. Natural-occurring sugars can be produced by cells within your body, or consumed through the foods you eat. Numerous types of natural sugars are found in a number of sources.

One type of natural-occurring sugar makes up the building block for several carbohydrates in your body. Upon ingestion, some natural sugars get chemically converted into glucose and are taken up by cells within your intestines for use by your body. Some glucose remains in your blood on its own, where it provides fuel for your muscles during physical activity, as well as acts as the major source of fuel for your brain. Excess glucose gets converted into larger molecules of glycogen, which may contain thousands of glucose molecules. A number of hormones, such as insulin, regulate the level of glucose in your blood, explains Colorado State University. Defects in insulin signalling and glucose regulation within your body can eventually lead to metabolic disorders, including diabetes.

Another type of natural sugar is fructose. With a chemical structure very similar to glucose, fructose is commonly found as a carbon-based ring. Georgia State University explains that fructose is typically found in fruit, as well as honey, and represents the sweetest of the simple sugars. It also makes up a component of sucrose, or table sugar, which contains one fructose and one glucose molecule. While some sources of fructose, including fruits, make up part of a healthy diet, many processed foods also contain high levels of fructose in the form of high-fructose corn syrup, which has been linked to obesity and other metabolic disorders, according to Princeton University. Consume several servings of fruits each day as a source of healthy fructose, and avoid processed foods containing high-fructose corn syrup.

Lactose is a natural-occurring sugar found in milk, and other dairy products. It is also a component of human breast milk, providing a source of carbohydrates to a nursing infant. Lactose is a disaccaride, made up of one glucose and one galactose molecule bound together. Upon consumption, an enzyme within the small intestine, called lactase, digests lactose for use by the body. Elmhurst College indicates that a lack of functional lactase can lead to lactose intolerance, a condition that causes bloating and painful gas after consuming dairy. If you suffer from lactose intolerance, consuming lactase pills before a meal containing lactose can relieve these symptoms and allow for proper digestion.

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