What does too much sugar do to the body?
We all love the taste of something sweet. Scientists have theorized for some time that humans are instinctively drawn to sugar as it is critical to our survival. Our metabolic energy cycle relies on it in order to function!
While sugar is essential to the inner workings of our molecular systems, we over estimate just how much our body needs and under estimate how much we consume. Our primal drive to fuel ourselves with sugar has not recalibrated to the excess availability of the wrong kinds of sugar in our diets.
How much sugar is too much?
According to Dr. Robert Lustig, a professor of Clinical Pediatrics in the Division of Endocrinology in the University of California, your body can safely metabolize at least six teaspoons of added sugar per day.
The reality is that most Americans are consuming over three times that amount, and the majority of the excess sugar becomes metabolized into body fat.
According to The Washington Post February 2015, Americans are now consuming 126 grams of sugar a day, which would equal close to 32 teaspoons.
What Is Sugar Anyway?
The term sugar has become a bit of a catch all. There are actually many different kinds of sugars which can be combined in different ways for different purposes.
What we often think of as sugar, the white crystals you sprinkle on your breakfast cereal, is a chemical compound called sucrose. Sucrose is made up of two simple sugars, fructose and glucose. Glucose and fructose are different types of simple sugars. After they are separated apart and broken down in your body they are metabolized using completely separate pathways.
Every cell in your body utilizes glucose — in fact, your body was designed to use it for energy.
What Is The Source Of All Of That Sugar?
In actuality, much of the excessive sugar we consume is in the form of fructose or high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS). It is a highly processed form of sugar that is cheaper and sweeter than table sugar. Saturating sweetened products with this lower cost alternative to sucrose allows food and beverage manufacturers to save money, at the expense of the consumer.
High-fructose corn syrup is found in almost all types of processed foods and drinks today. The problem is the human body is not made to consume excessive amounts of sugar, especially in the form of fructose.
Why is using High-Fructose Corn Syrup such a problem?
Your body metabolizes fructose differently than sugar (sucrose). It is actually a toxin to the liver! Fructose metabolizes directly into fat – causing a whole host of problems that have far-reaching effects on your health!
Unlike glucose, which is used directly by your cells, your body’s processing of fructose puts most of the metabolic burden on your liver. Your liver only has to break down 20 percent of the glucose you ingest because your cells normally “burn it up” immediately after consumption.
Why Is Sugar So Popular?
The explosion of soda consumption is the major cause of our high sugar intake. Sugar is loaded into your soft drinks, fruit juices, sports drinks, and hidden in almost all processed foods—from bologna to pretzels to Worcestershire sauce to cheese spread. And now most infant formula has the sugar equivalent of one can of Coca-Cola, so babies are being metabolically poisoned from day one of taking formula.
So Where Does All Of This Fructose Go, Once You Consume It?
Onto your thighs and abdomen. It is turned into FAT (VLDL and triglycerides), abdominal obesity, decreased HDL, increased LDL, elevated triglycerides, elevated blood sugar, and high blood pressure.
Dr. Richard Johnson, professor of Medicine University of Colorado, has focused on how the overabundance of sugar in the American diet — particularly fructose — is causing obesity, hypertension, diabetes, and a number of other health problems in amazingly high numbers.
Could Fructose contribute to liver disease?
One of the most severe effects of eating too much sugar is its potential to wreak havoc on your liver, leading to a condition known as non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). What that means is fructose may cause liver disease.
Eating Fructose Is Far Worse Than Eating Fat
Fructose rapidly leads to weight gain and fructose metabolism is very similar to ethanol metabolism, which has a multitude of toxic effects, including NAFLD (non-alcoholic fatty liver disease). It’s alcohol without the buzz.
Fructose breaks down into various waste products that are bad for your body. One of the waste products is uric acid. Thanks to Dr. Johnson’s research, we now know that fructose generates uric acid within minutes of ingestion and fructose turns you into a uric acid factory!
High levels of uric acid are normally associated with gout, and it has been long known that people with high blood pressure and kidney disease, and people who are overweight, often have elevated uric acid levels. Unfortunately, it turns out that uric acid drives up your blood pressure.
It was thought this increased uric acid resulted from the disease, but it appears now that fructose may have been CAUSING it!
How Does Uric Acid Affect our Body?
Uric acid inhibits the nitric oxide in your blood vessels, and nitric oxide helps your vessels maintain their elasticity. Nitric oxide suppression leads to increases in blood pressure. Fructose consumption clearly causes insulin resistance, whereas straight glucose does not. Insulin resistance can eventually lead to full blown diabetes.
Interestingly, glucose actually accelerates fructose absorption. So when you mix glucose and fructose together, you absorb more fructose than if you consumed fructose alone. This is an important piece of information if you are struggling to control your weight!
Remember, sucrose, or table sugar, is exactly this blend — fructose plus glucose.
Can we become addicted to Sugar?
Who would have imagined that our entire society would become so dependent on a substance that offers no nutritional value at all, that wreaks havoc in our body and threatens our health for an entire lifetime? It is recognized that our addiction to sugar is similar to one’s addiction to cocaine! Dr. Johnson, author of The Sugar Fix, recommends for health’s sake to keep our fructose consumption below 25 grams per day.
If You Feel You Must Have A Sweetener, Follow These Guidelines:
- Avoid ALL artificial sweeteners.
- Avoid all conventional agave and high fructose corn syrup.
- Use high quality agave that has fructose in its conjugated form.
- Use raw honey in moderation or avoid it completely as it is 70 percent fructose, which is higher than high-fructose corn syrup.
- Limit sugar of all types as much as possible.
- You can buy pure glucose as a sweetener for about $1 per pound, which has none of the adverse effects of fructose if used moderately.
- Use Stevia, a highly sweet herb derived from the leaf of the South American stevia plant, which is completely safe (in its natural form).