“You could take a 2lb bag of sugar and slap a label on it that says ‘100% Fat Free’ and while this is factually true; this is unbelievably misleading.” – Jason Vale.
Since I’ve been studying health and nutrition, one topic that I’ve found really interesting is sugar and the impact that the added sugar/glucose in our diets has on our bodies.
Added sugars are the most dangerous ingredient in the modern Western diet. More than alcohol, more than salt, and more than fat. Added sugars contains loads of calories but zero nutrients. They are the number one cause of obesity, and, in turn, cardiovascular disease, cancer, respiratory disease, metabolic syndrome, Type 2 Diabetes, and so many more.
I’m very aware that this isn’t news to anyone. We know this. We know added sugars are bad for our health. So why are they used? Hate to be the bearer of bad news, but giant food production corporations don’t care about our health! Added sugars make products cheaper and last longer, but more importantly, they make food products ADDICTIVE. So these massive greedy companies have been sneaking them into their products by the shed-load for decades. Hell, one single can of cola has MORE THAN DOUBLE of our daily sugar allowance nowadays!
To put that into perspective, according to one study, in the year 1822 we ate the equivalent of a 12 ounce can of soda every 5 days. Today, we’re eating the equivalent of a 12 ounce can of soda every 7 hours.
It’s not our fault. We’re not doing it intentionally. We’re not standing there happily chucking 17 teaspoons of sugar in our coffee every morning. These added sugars are being hidden in most of the convenient, packaged food that we buy nowadays, usually under some clever, scientific-sounding alter-ego.
But why are they so bad? What do they do? What effect does added sugar actually have on our bodies?
Let’s not forget how clever our bodies are. Our bodies, even when we’re asleep, are constantly trying to function, to repair, to grow. If you feed it the right fuel, it can do its job efficiently and keep you in good health. If you feed it with the wrong things, not only will it struggle with basic functions but it will also be doing everything it can to detect and remove the offending fuel.
When humans consume sugar (sucrose), it converts into glucose and fructose, and travels through the bloodstream to be digested in our liver. To set the record straight – we need glucose for energy. It is vital. Every cell in our body runs on energy from glucose. Glucose is important. Do not avoid glucose. Glucose.
Fructose, however, is not a part of human metabolism and very few cells have a use for it. But, in ‘normal’ quantities, and digested along with the fibres it should come with in fruits and vegetables (not as an additive alone), it’s nothing to be afraid of.
Anyway, our livers will do their best to metabolise as much sugar as possible for energy, but unless you’re either burning that energy, or you’re just consuming far too much sugar in the first place, the excess will turn into fatty acids (yes, FAT) and set up camp on your hips/stomach/thighs/face etc. Win.
Consuming added sugars also make our insulin levels spike to help balance the level of sugar in our bloodstream. This will make your body put burning fat on hold to burn the sugar instead and get rid of it ASAP. (Yay, so more fat stays in our bodies!). But I’ll save diving further into sugar and insulin for another post.
The long and short of it is: use your head. Natural sugars are fine. Normal quantities are fine. Our bodies need sugars for energy. Just keep the source of the sugars clean and the amounts limited. Stay away from the added, refined, artificial and processed sugars. They’re not doing you any good. They’re evil. Plus, they’re shrinking your clothes.