Our bodies require one specific sugar only- glucose. Glucose is the preferred source of fuel by all body cells and is derived from the digestion of carbohydrates. There are two types of sugars in the common American diet, those naturally occurring in foods (such as fruit and vegetables) and those with added sugars (white and brown sugar, high fructose corn syrup, corn sweetener, fruit juice concentrates, splenda and sugars ending in “ose” such as sucrose, maltose, dextrose, fructose and lactose).
In our blood system we have approximately 5 grams of glucose (equivalent to a little over 1 teaspoon of sugar which is 4 grams) circulating around our body to provide cells with glucose to burn to make energy. The body must regulate this very carefully and does this through a complex series of chemical reactions driven by the hormone insulin which is secreted by our pancreas, a small gland connected to our small intestine. Insulin reduces blood glucose by enabling it to be absorbed into the cells to be used as energy.
Our body functions optimally if we consume our carbohydrates from whole vegetables and fruits. Our body does not need added sugar and added sugar actually wrecks havoc on our bodies’ systems. Though there are NO specific guidelines provided by the FDA as to how much sugar is allowed per day (they do this for salt, fat, carbohydrates and alcohol), the World Health Organization has recommended no more than 10% of your calories coming from sugar and suggests that 5% would have even more health benefits. For an average man, that would be 25 grams of sugar per day. And remember, most refined and processed carbohydrates have high glycemic index, a system that ranks foods on a scale of 1 to 100 based on their effect on blood sugar. The following are common foods that rank very high on the glycemic index scale and rapidly digest into glucose:
|• White Flour Products||• Cakes|
|• Pastries||• Pasta|
|• Bagels||• Pizza|
|• Granola Bars||• Power and Energy Bars|
|• Crackers||• Muffins|
|• Pancakes||• Waffles|
|• Pies||• White Rice|
|• Instant Oatmeal||• Cereals|
|• Ketchup||• Candy|
|• Confectionery||• Jelly|
|• Jams and Preserves||• Pudding|
|• Sweetened Yogurt||• Baby Formula|
How much Sugar do we typically consume?
Just think of the stress that places on our body’s ability to manage these sugars if we are supposed to keep our blood glucose levels to 5g. Sugar is responsible for the dramatic increase in the incidence of obesity, diabetes, heart disease and strokes we are experiencing as modern pandemics – diseases and illnesses that are preventable. The overload of sugar causes the pancreas to increase insulin to try and move glucose out of the blood system and causes blood glucose levels to become imbalanced. A blood glucose level that is too high is called hyperglycemia and a blood sugar level which is too low is called hypoglycemia.
Type 2 Diabetes is commonly the result of a reduced ability to provide enough insulin to move glucose out of the blood system and can cause frequent urination, increased thirst and more long term conditions such as cancer, heart disease, stroke, kidney failure, fatty liver, obesity, foot ulcers and damage to the eyes and even coma or death. Face it, at type 2 diabetes, your pancreas is worn out. You can often see signs of blood sugar issues long before Type 2 Diabetes sets in: mood swings, energy crashes, cravings for more sugar, it is all because of too much sugar in your diet.
Why has sugar consumption increased so much?
In the 1958 an American biochemist and epidemiologist, Ancel Keys, started “the 7 countries study” which looked at heart disease in an analysis linking heart disease to fat consumption. He launched the “lipid hypothesis” and as a result the USDA, American Heart Association and American Medical Association called for dramatic dietary changes in the 1970’s focused on reducing fat and increasing carbohydrate consumption to try and reduce the risk of heart disease and associated health problems in modern countries – especially The United States.
Unfortunately the study did not look at sugars added to the majority of these carbohydrate foods and it appears that the countries that had the highest incidence of heart disease such as America ate foods highest in fats but also in sugar.
Japan had the lowest rate of heart disease even though their diet is predominantly carbohydrate rich due to rice consumption has the lowest concentration of added sugar. Carbohydrates and reduced fat foods are not very tasty so to make them more palatable sugar is added. Since the explosion of the “low fat”, “fat free” food era, the incidence of sugar, related diseases and illnesses have escalated proving that sugar and processed carbohydrates are to blame rather than fat as was originally hypothesized by Keys. In his single flawed study, Keys injected false information that led to the initiation of the low fat diet and the change in the USDA food pyramid focusing on carbohydrate rich foods.
The USDA food pyramid has been followed by many countries that have not witnessed a reduction in the risk of heart and cardiovascular disease but rather an increase in the incidence of heart disease.
Why? Pattern B (small dense) lipoproteins, are the form of LDL’s that enter the blood vessel wall and cause plaque to form (aka arteriosclerosis) leading to heart disease and cardiovascular disease. The other type – Pattern A – LDL cannot enter the arterial wall and does not cause plaque formation. Guess what can make these small dense lipoproteins? Yes you guessed it…Sugar, more specifically, fructose. So a high sugar diet essentially becomes a high fat diet as fructose sugar is made into fat.
Fructose ( commonly as high-fructose corn syrup), was introduced into the American diet in 1975 may be a primary cause of increasing the incidence of heart disease and obesity as it forms pattern B lipoproteins.
Fructose, unlike glucose, does not stimulate leptin, a hormone that tells us when we have eaten enough, so we eat more and do not know when to stop. Approximately 30% of consumed fructose is also stored as fat! Over the past 4 decades metabolic syndrome which includes obesity, Type 2 diabetes, lipid problems, hypertension (high blood pressure) and cardiovascular disease have exploded.
Other conditions caused by excessive fructose consumption include:
- Myocardial infarction (heart attack)
- Dyslipidemia – elevated cholesterol and triglycerides
- Pancreatitis – (inflamed pancreas)
- CNS leptin resistance (causing no sensation to stop eating)
- Fetal insulin resistance (insulin resistance is where the body cells are unable to use insulin effectively and therefore the control of glucose levels is impaired)
- Hepatic insulin resistance
- Gout (arthritis, especially in the feet caused by increase uric acid)
- Chronic hepato toxin (fructose, a toxic chemical substance that damages the liver)
- Non alcoholic fatty liver disease (fatty build up in the liver)
Sodas are one of the main foods where added sugars play an ever growing role in health deterioration. Coke has caffeine which is a diuretic and also contains salt, which in combination lead to feelings of thirst and dehydration. Sugar is added to mask the taste of salt. The size of its bottles and its overall consumption has escalated over the past 100 years.
These are all very similar to conditions caused by excessive alcohol consumption but without the alcohol buzz. You would not give a child a glass of wine, a shot of whisky or a beer, but you are doing exactly the same when you give a fructose-laden soda drink.
It is time to change – PLEASE read food and drink labels and take dramatic steps to start limiting sugar consumption for you and your family.
Don’t miss part 2 of this blog: a detailed look at how much sugar you add to your diet and the impact it has on your health. Follow our blog or subscribe below!
You should always consult with your healthcare practitioner before taking any nutritional supplements. Statements made herein have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat or cure any disease.