Table Sugar verses Honey: What happens in the digestive process.


Understanding the difference between table sugar (sugar extracted from sugar cane or sugar beets) and honey and how it is digested is beneficial in helping us make educated food choices. Twelve years ago I found Elaine Gottshall’s book “Breaking the Vicious Cycle” and put my son on the Specific Carbohydrate Diet. Not only did my son’s Ulcerative Colitis go into remission, but I learned many valuable lessons. I hope this one about table sugar and honey fascinates you or at least teaches you something you may not know.

First off both table sugar and honey would be defined as “sugars” which are chemical compounds of varying sweetness which include fructose, glucose, and sucrose. The difference between honey and table sugar is that honey is a monosaccharide and table sugar is a disaccharide.

Monosaccharides are single sugars which include fructose and glucose. They’re found in honey and fruits. Fructose and glucose require no further digestion in order to be absorbed in the bloodstream. They are predigested sugars and much easier on the gut for consumption.

Disaccharides are sugars composed of two parts (two molecules) which are chemically linked. Table sugar is sucrose and it is a disaccharide sugar formed by chemically linking one part glucose to one part fructose. Sucrose sugars require digestion before they can be absorbed into the blood stream

According to the theory behind the Specific Carbohydrate Diet, people with digestive disorders have trouble digesting and absorbing the carbohydrates in disaccharide sugars, because they are much harder to digest and absorb into the digestive system. Thus, the need for strict compliance and avoidance of these carbohydrates while on the diet.

Fortunately, honey is wonderful and provided us with a healthy sweetener that we rely on exclusively, to adhere to the SCD diet.  We have also gained a real appreciation for fruit as a dessert choice instead of cupcakes, cookies or other desserts that use sucrose sugars. Continuing on with our food journey, a year ago we became backyard bee keepers and we now enjoy our own honey. Future blogs about the value of honey and the amazingness of bees are soon to be in the works!

In the meantime, I hope I helped you become better educated about the difference between table sugar (disaccharide) and honey (monosaccharide).


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