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The Truth About Sugar

Posted on October 20, 2013 · Posted in Uncategorized

images2Sugar – Do you really know enough about it?

There has been allot of talk about sugar, let’s look at the facts. Part 1 will give us a better understanding of the facts of its relationship with our body’s hormones and health. Part 2 will help us understand how to live with sugar both as individuals and its relationship with our children.

The Facts
To understand health and wellbeing we need to understand the impact sugar has on our bodies and what sugar actually is. The word sugar in itself has become misleading, after years in the health and fitness industry it still surpirses me that to many people sugar is just another carbohydrate, another source of necessary calories used to fuel our bodies for daily activities. They don’t see how easily it has infiltrated their diets. It’s in our morning cereals, our cups of tea and coffee, our morning snacks, our low fat “health products”, fizzy drinks, chocolate bars, cakes and biscuits. It’s assummed that we need to consume sugar to keep blood sugar levels stable enough to provide our bodies with energy to function optimally and avoid the pitfalls of low blood sugar levels- dizziness, mood swings, indecisiveness and low energy, to mention just a few. This interpretation of sugar and it’s “function” is far from the truth of what sugar is and the impact it actually has on our bodies.
William Dufty, author of Sugar Blues states, “ Fructose is fruit sugar, Maltose is malt sugar, Lactose is milk sugar, Sucrose is sugar cane or sugar beet sugar. Glucose is blood sugar and has always been an essential element in the human blood stream. It is an entirely different substance to sucrose, fructose, maltose and lactose and even effects the body in different ways.” We need to be able to see that the source of the sugar we consume is the most important factor in our health. There is an addiction to processed sugars in the modern diet- obesity statistics serve to support this, statistics from globalsherpa.org show that obesity has doubled or trebled in many OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development) countries and 61% of Irish adults are overweight.

Sometimes we make the mistake in assuming a carbohydrate is a carbohydrate, it’s all digested to glucose in the bloodstream so it’s source is not important. Energy derived from digesting a sweet potato is not the same as energy from a piece of chocolate. To understand health and wellness we need to understand the effect different sources of sugar have on our bodies. Refined sugar from the sugar cane is that processed you could say it has been predigested- the cane is refined so that all its nutrients have been stripped away- no more fibre, magnesium, iron or potassium. When eaten it passes directly into the intestines where it becomes “predigested” glucose. Glucose levels in the blood are finely controlled, a sudden influx of refined sugar causes an emergency cascade of hormonal responses, mainly insulin secretion, from the pancreas and adrenal hormones to restore balance. After years of daily exposure to refined sugar the bodies pancreas and its adrenal glands become worn out and inefficient increasing the risk of type 2 diabetes, obesity and its related metabolic disorders- high blood pressure, heart disease, high triglycerides and increased Low Density Lipids which are linked to heart disease.
Stressed out adrenals or adrenal fatigue can be the culprit behind low energy, low motivation, reduced capacity to handle stress, inability to recover from training, poor immunity and low sex drive. The adrenals are reliant on good sleep, vitamin C and B-vitamins to function optimally. Too much sugar depletes both the B vitamins and vitamin C. The liver and muscles can store glucose but when the body is exposed to more refined sugars, fructose in particular, it is forced to store this excess in its most inactive areas- the bum, hips, thighs and breasts as the liver doesn’t have the capacity to store fructose.
Modern processing methods are stripping our whole foods down to get to the “sweet stuff,” the sugar cane is quite a robust plant but when it’s processed we’re only left with sugar, sugar should not be called food because it is stripped of so much nourishment. Our bodies were designed to thrive on whole foods- which contains fibre, vitamins and minerals, this makes for a slower digestion process and our bloodstream doesn’t become overwhelmed with a flood of sugar, whole foods also provides us with the nourishment we need for optimal health. Fruit juices are another good example of this. A whole apple contains fibre which helps reduce bad cholesterol, regulates blood sugar levels and provides a feeling of fullness, quercetin, a strong anti-oxidant and boron which helps prevent osteoporosis. How many apples would you usually eat in a sitting? When used as a snack for the average joe not usually more than one! Compare this to a couple of glasses of store bought juice, where all the nutrients have been stripped down and you’re only left with the sweet taste of the apple juice- remember, “fructose is fruit sugar,” and our bodies were not designed to thrive from the “sweet stuff.”

Robert H. Lustig, M.D. Professor of Pediatrics, Division of Endocrinology, University of California, San Francisco states, “Fructose is not glucose- every cell in the body can use glucose, it’s the energy of life. With normal glucose metabolism hormones and enzymes process it to be stored in the liver as glycogen for glucagon and epinephrine to get it out of the liver. How much glycogen can your liver store before it gets sick? It can store lots- its a non toxic storage form of glucose in the liver.” He continues to state, “Chronic fructose exposure promotes metabolic syndrome- obesity, type 2 diabetes, lipid problems, high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease. Fructose will be metabolised by the liver to uric acid which causes gout and high blood pressure. Fructose increases de novo lipogenesis (the enzymatic pathway for converting dietary carbs to fat) in normal adults and causes triglycerides and free fatty acids to go up. Some of the fat can’t get out of the liver where it contributes to liver insulin resistance making the pancreas work even harder.”
In a recent Irish radio interview a lady was speaking to a nutritionist and mentioned that she only had one can of coke a day, to which the nutritionist replied, “One can is probably okay.” No chance! A can of coke has approximately 5 teaspoons of sugar…Do the maths, that’s 35 teaspoons of sugar a week, 140 teaspons of sugar a month and 1,680 teaspoons of sugar a year, a gauranteed way to kick lumps out of your pancreas, all the while converting those processed carbs into fat! We need to start viewing our food consumption over a longer time scale, weekly and monthly as opposed to daily. If someone is having one can of coke a day there will be even more sugars “sneaking” in with other meals- think of the biscuits, sweets, cakes and alcohol over the rest of the week. And don’t be fooled by the soft drinks companies promoting coke zero, diet 7up etc… these are full of artificial sweteners which have been linked to a host of other problems.
These are the hard facts, this is the knowledge we need when making food choices for ourselves and our families. Understanding Sugar,Part 2, LivingWith Sugar will be up on the site in a week and will give some practical advice on sugar and modern life.