Is sugar harmful really? That’s the big question I’m looking into in this article.
Let’s first define sugar so we can get a better understanding:
Sugar belongs to the food group called carbohydrates which are responsible for providing the body with energy.
There are different types of sugars. For example:
1.) Sucrose which is known as table sugar and is actually the subject of this article.
2.) Glucose which is the major fuel for the body cells.
3.) Fructose which is from fruits.
4.) Galactose which is found in animals.
5.) Lactose which is from milk.
Many foods are converted to glucose in the body; and, the glucose in the blood is called Blood Glucose.
When you consume sugar or regular carbohydrates and it’s digested, as a result, glucose is released, absorbed from the alimentary canal into the bloodstream. Hence, the rise in blood glucose. Immediately, there’s an outflow of hormones which include insulin from the pancreas into the bloodstream to lower glucose levels which helps convert the monosaccharide called glucose into a polysaccharide called Glycogen as a result.
This glycogen is the stored in the liver and muscles for future use when blood glucose levels run low. When the levels in liver and muscles are too high then it’s stored as Fat.
Sucrose (table sugar) is a disaccharide which is made up of one unit each of fructose and glucose. It’s actually the fructose part that’s responsible for the numerous undesirable and harmful effects on our health.
Unfortunately, the consumption of sucrose over the years has increased therfore increasing the rate people develop many diseases. The more you consume the more you open your body to a range of chronic illnesses such as; Diabetes, Arthritis, High blood pressure, High cholesterol levels, Cardiovascular diseases, inflammatory diseases and the dreads Cancer. Yes, cancer loves and feeds on sugar.
Sugar isn’t just that simple attractive sweet, it actually has unique effects on the body that’s different from other carbohydrates. Though sugar is a carbohydrate, it’s totally different from eating starch which is another type of carbohydrate. Unfortunately, it seems to have found its sneaky way into almost all man-made and processed foods.
Human beings don’t physiologically require sugar, as nutritional needs can be met in full in our diets without taking a single spoon of white, brown or raw sugar. Secondly, if only people knew a small fraction of the effects of sucrose, they wouldn’t touch it.
HARMFUL EFFECTS OF SUGAR:
- Adds calories but no nutrients hence called empty calories.
- Very bad for the teeth.
- It’s high in fructose and this high amount can overload the liver as fructose can only be broken down by the liver and can thus lead to liver overload. This can lead to non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.
- It can cause insulin resistance which is a stepping stone towards metabolic syndrome and diabetes
Insulin is one of the key hormones in regulating cell growth, thus having a constantly elevated level of insulin as a result of high sugar consumption can contribute to cancer.
- Sucrose is very inflammatory in the body; hence, leads to a lot of inflammatory diseases like arthritis and cancer.
- It has fat promoting tendencies. Fructose doesn’t make you feel full or satiated as glucose would do hence, you just continue consuming it.
- It’s very addictive, almost like cocaine.
- Leads to obesity.
- It raises cholesterol levels especially LDL (the bad one) and causes it’s oxidation. Also, it raises triglycerides, the dense LDL and the oxidised LDL, decreases good cholesterol HDL, abdominal obesity which are major risk factors in heart disease and not saturated fats.
- Sugar causes chromium deficiency.
- Lowers Vitamin E levels.
- Causes hyperactivity in children.
- Leads to kidney and gallstones.
- Promotes chronic degenerative diseases.
- Causes cataracts and nearsightedness.
- Contributes to osteoporosis (a medical condition in which the bones become brittle and fragile from loss of tissue).
- Paralyses 50% of the immune system for up to 4 hours.
- It increases the frequency of candida infection and attacks.
COMMON FOODS THAT ARE LOADED WITH SUGAR INCLUDE:
The so called healthy “fat-free yoghurt”, and also, energy bars, savoury foods such as ketchup, salad dressings, pasta sauce.
A small paper cup of a popular soft drink contains 22 sachets of sugar. The larger cup contains about 44 sachets. Almost all processed foods are loaded with sugar. About 74% of it is hiding in packaged foods. Most breakfast cereals are just sugar coated with a few grains of wheat or rice or corn.
There are about 61 different names for sugar hidden by manufacturers in foods:
Barley malt, dextrose, maltose, rice syrup , malt syrup , high fructose corn syrup , beet sugar, cane juice crystals, caramel, corn sweetener, corn syrup , diastase, ethyl maltol, golden syrup, maltodextrin, panela (raspadura) etc.
Fructose in fruits is still fructose, so, there’s a need to monitor how much very sweet fruits you consume.
Pineapple, watermelon are quite sweet.
Sugar can be deadly, especially with the rise in consumption over the years and the proportionate rise in chronic illnesses.
In conclusion, knowing how damaging sugar is to our health, shouldn’t we be careful about consumption?