We’ve all been fed the dangers of sugar since childhood, mostly at how candy rots your teeth and is unhealthy. And sugar, like so many things, is bad when not properly moderated. This may sound like a surprise, but a natural sugar known as glucose is essential in our diet. Our bodies even reward us for eating it. That said, the modern diet often contains extremely excessive amounts of added sugar which is not all glucose. High dental bills are one thing, but sugar can lead to potentially lethal results, like cancer, diabetes and heart disease.
When we say sugar, we are generally talking about table sugar, known in scientific circles as sucrose. Sucrose contains only half glucose, our body’s most easily and naturally metabolized sugar. Glucose is our main source of energy and is found in many of the foods we eat, like whole grains and pasta.
Table sugar isn’t all glucose, though; it’s half fructose, which our bodies react to in a very different way.
You’ve probably heard the buzz in recent years about all the high-fructose corn syrup lurking in soda and other sweetened goods? HCFS consists of just 45% glucose and 55% fructose. It’s not exactly a vast amount different than table sugar and a huge source of added sugar in our foods.
Whether it’s table sugar, HCFS, or agave nectar, it contains a great deal of fructose. When you eat glucose, insulin circulates throughout your body to be used properly. It keeps Insulin Efficiency up and other benefits.
Fructose, however, cannot be used immediately by your body. It has to be processed by your liver first. This mean it takes longer to be used and puts added work and extra fat onto your liver. Also, fructose is much more likely to be stored as fat than glucose is (part of the increased risk of becoming obese).
The more fructose you ingest, the worse it can get.
Fructose also causes problems with the hormones in our body, particularly leptin and ghrelin. When we eat glucose, our bodies release leptin in order to “tell” our brain when we’ve had enough. Ghrelin is used by our body to tell our brains that our stomach is empty and ready for food.
When we eat glucose, leptin is released and ghrelin is lowered to help us suppress our sugar cravings and appetite. When we eat fructose, it’s the other way around. More ghrelin is released and less leptin is released, meaning we can keep on eating but still feel hungry.
Pizza on the cheaper side of the spectrum, for example, is made with a lot of sugar and not much fiber, and it’s this reason why eating a lot of junk food is easy. Your average college student will not have much difficulty eating a large pizza. Have you ever tried eating 4 apples?
The problem with high-fructose corn syrup as much as regular sugar is really how ubiquitous they have both become in our everyday diets. As it is added to a lot of processed and/or low-fat foods in order to improve taste and prolong shelf-life, a lot of products contain HCFS that may not seem like they would.
You get tons of sugar in soda, candy and so on, but you might be surprised that one of the primary sources of sugar for Americans is ketchup. Barbecue and salad dressings also frequently contain HCFS.
It’s the bits of sugar from all over that can really add up. The Economic Research Service, part of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), estimates that Americans consume an average of 52 teaspoons of added sugar every day.
That’s like eating a baseball made out of solid sugar 365 days a year.
It’s a bit of a generalization, but pretty much anything you might expect to be at your average gas station or convenience store is going to have a lot of sugar in it, HFCS or otherwise: breakfast bars, pastries that stay good longer than a few days (and even those that don’t), chips, sports drinks, all the sweets and so on. (In any case, it’s unlikely you’ll find a bevy of healthy options.)
Cutting all sugar from your diet sounds like a good idea if you’re talking about table sugar and HCFS. However, our bodies need glucose to function properly. In fact, fruits and vegetables are common sources of fructose, but it’s still essential you eat plenty of them.
You need to reduce the excess sugar in your diet. That’s an important difference in mentalities. As any parent can tell you, banning something just makes your kids want it more. It’s the same when you forbid yourself from sugar; you’re more likely to have a relapse into bad habits.
The Olumia Life plan is a perfect way to still get all the nutrients you need without sacrificing all the foods you love. Instead of spending all your time doing research and planning every single moment of your diet, you can use the Olumia Life app to follow a diet plan tailored to your needs.
Connect with us to discuss how Olumia Life can benefit you and your practice. Physicians may contact our Olumia Life project lead, Steven Willey MD.Connect with Us
Our Director of Corporate Wellness will respond within 24 hours.Getting started is simple! Connect with us to discuss how we may assist.Connect with Us