How Sugar Affects Your Health
Sugar As a Toxin For those of us that are concerned about our nutritional intakes, each dietary choice is very important. We consume healthy supplements and monitor our daily values against several important dietary benchmarks. However, most of us still receive over 25% of our daily calories from a chemical that may do more harm than good. Some scientists associate excessive sugar consumption with a variety of adverse health conditions. Reducing your sugar intake may dramatically improve your general health. It is important to understand the consequences of our dietary choices. We do need to consume carbohydrates. However, we can limit our consumption of simple sugars.
High-fructose corn syrup is a popular sweetener used in many cheaply-made commercial food products. While sugar might improve the taste of some inexpensive food items, we will enjoy a longer life if we view the misuse of sugar as toxic. When considering the potential classification of sugar as a toxin, it is important to evaluate some of the adverse health conditions that are associated with its consumption. For example, many consider sugar consumption to be a leading cause of obesity. Victims of obesity are at risk for a number of health problems like diabetes, heart disease, and strokes.
Heavy sugar intake is associated with high blood pressure. Some examine its effect on triglyceride and bad cholesterol levels. Liver damage and gout might occur when excessive levels of sugar consumption are sustained over a long period of time. Since we can replace our fructose consumption with safer alternatives, we should take a long look at these alarming associations. While sugar may be a viable energy source, it behaves like a toxin when compared to safer alternatives.
Sugar and Society
Lifestyles are changing. As more labor saving devices emerge, we burn fewer calories. However, the invention of high-fructose corn syrup makes it simple for food producers to overload our diets with excessive sugars. A sedentary lifestyle should not be fueled by a diet that contains superfluous calories from sugar. This is unhealthy. High-fructose corn syrup was designed to be a concentrated sweetener. However, it is not used in that way.
Food manufacturers heap bounteous quantities of fructose into our daily diets. To make matters worse, we have no data on the effects of a full life of over-consumption of high-fructose corn syrup. This harmful substance has only been in use for a few decades. Since so many food producers use this product, we may eventually notice lasting effects on average lifespans as a result. As modern life involves fewer physical activities, we should take extra care to monitor our daily intakes.
Sugar and Obesity
The association between sugar and obesity has been demonstrated by a number of studies. For example, many scientists have shown how sugary beverages cause obesity. A study from the Boston Children's Hospital illustrated a clear link between consumption of sugar-sweetened drinks and obesity in children. A study from the Journal of the American Medical Association linked sugar-sweetened soft drinks to type II diabetes. This data also reinforced the association between the availability of these beverages and childhood obesity. However, children are not the only group affected by the consumption of sugar-sweetened soft drinks. A study from Yale University illustrated these effects in adults as well.
The Inefficient Metabolism of Fructose
Since we can choose our fuel from a variety of energy sources, it is important to consider how fructose metabolism differs from other carbohydrates. A good energy source should provide necessary fuels in an efficient manner. This should be done without creating harmful byproducts. These characteristics are not found in fructose. For this reason, it should not be considered a safe and efficient source of energy. First of all, fructose is completely metabolized in the liver. When compared to other carbohydrates, this is inefficient. This puts undue strain on the liver. For this reason, some consider fructose to be a hepatotoxin. Hepatotoxins are chemical products that cause damage to the liver. After consuming your liver's phosphates and raising your nitric oxide levels, this metabolic process can cause an increase in blood pressure.
These phosphates are then converted to other materials that raise lipid and triglyceride levels. This may cause hyperlipidemia. Hyperlipidemia is considered an avoidable risk factor for heart disease. This metabolic process also creates insulin resistance in certain body systems. As your pancreas responds to this resistance by producing more insulin, it faces additional wear. This can lead to type II diabetes.
This metabolic process shares many of the disadvantages that come with high-fat diets. The harmful consequences of high-fat diets are well-understood. However, few understand that fructose can cause the same problems. The modern healthy dieter should evaluate fructose in this way. In fact, excessive fructose consumption may have a more devastating effect on bad cholesterol levels than foods that are high in fat. Fructose consumption is known to raise pattern B LDL levels. This tiny, atherogenic type of low-density lipoprotein is associated with an increased risk of coronary artery disease. Ironically, massive fructose consumption may be a result of an older health craze. Since past studies associated high-fat diets with heart disease, food producers responded by providing foods with reduced fat content. With less fat, a bland taste occurs.
Many food manufacturers remedied this by including high-fructose corn syrup as a sweetener. Unfortunately, high levels of high-fructose corn syrup may be a more serious cause of heart disease. In this way, we may be suffering from an unintended consequence of the commercial attempt to reduce fat consumption. Consumers must demand that food products provide an enjoyable flavor without causing heart disease.
How Fructose Consumption Boosts Your Cravings for the Wrong Foods
Healthy foods should make us feel properly nourished. Our brain provides a satisfied feeling when we eat the right foods. This is another way in which fructose contributes to obesity. This product disrupts our brain chemistry in a way that makes us crave more food. The hedonic pathway informs your body of the need to eat. Insulin and leptin levels are considered by the brain when determining your level of hunger. Fructose does not cause a rise in leptin levels. As a result, you may still feel hungry after consuming foods that contain high-fructose corn syrup. Furthermore, an increase in insulin and triglyceride levels causes you to feel hungry. When you combine these factors, fructose does not deliver the same feeling of satisfaction that glucose offers. Controlling cravings is a great way to keep off unwanted pounds. Unfortunately, fructose consumption causes the opposite effect. This is a compelling reason to reduce your fructose intake.
The Difference Between Glucose and Fructose
Both glucose and fructose are found in sweeteners. They are both simple sugars. However, they are metabolized differently. Sweeteners contain different proportions of these two unique molecules. Glucose is more efficiently metabolized by the body. Much of this material is used immediately as a form of energy. A small percentage passes to the liver. Your liver converts glucose into glycogen for storage.
Glycogen is a non-toxic molecule that humans use to store energy for a long period of time. Glucose metabolism also leads to safe levels of insulin production. Smaller amounts of pyruvate are produced as a byproduct of this process. Lower citrate levels are experienced as well. While glucose metabolism will result in the creation of bad cholesterol, the amounts are insubstantial. This differs from fructose. Fructose is a serious cause of bad cholesterol. Most sugars will include both types of molecules. However, high-fructose corn syrup contains unnaturally high amounts of fructose. For this reason, it should be avoided where possible.
Lower Your Sugar Intake for Good Health
While fructose causes a variety of problems, it is not an acute toxin. However, some consider this form of sugar to be a chronic toxin. In essence, this means that long term abuse of this substance causes effects that can be described as toxic. Since we know that sugar-sweetened food products cause these health problems, we should take steps to reduce this caloric intake where possible. Furthermore, we should replace these sugars with healthier alternatives when additional reductions to daily caloric values would be unhealthy.
Here are some easy tips for reducing your dependency on unhealthy sugars:
- Drink fewer soft drinks. While water is an ideal alternative, select drinks that do not increase your caloric intake.
- Choose complex carbohydrates instead of simple sugars. For example, we face this choice when shopping for bread.
- Cut back on sugary snacks. While eating several small meals a day can be healthy, this is not true when snacking on comfort foods that contain high-fructose corn syrup.
- Compliment your sugar intake with increased fiber consumption. This will help your body metabolize sugars more efficiently.
Since we obtain energy from a variety of different sources, sugar consumption can be safely reduced. However, this requires clever shopping. Consider reducing your daily consumption of sugar when possible. Avoid products that contain high-fructose corn syrup. There are healthier and more efficient ways to fuel your body.