It's everywhere, we're all addicted, and it really is a BIG topic of discussion – we could go on and on and on about sugar all day!
But what we want to share today is the difference between sugar, sucrose, and fructose, and why eating sugar has become such a problem for us.
Glucose vs Sucrose vs Fructose
Fructose is found naturally in things like fruit and honey but it is also found in the common sugar alternative high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), and believe it or not, table sugar!
When it comes to the differences it’s all about the molecules and how they metabolize in the body.
Glucose exists on it’s own and is also commonly known as dextrose.
When fructose is joined to glucose it makes sucrose. We extract it from sugar cane, beets, corn and various other plants, and for the most part we produce table sugar.
Fructose in it’s natural state in fruit comes packaged with fiber, vitamins, minerals and many other compounds that help the fructose metabolize more effectively in the body.
Fructose from HFCS and table sugar both contain the glucose and fructose molecule.
Fructose is also in agave, which is mostly fructose at 85%, not a healthy option like many people think it is. Generally in the majority of natural foods where fructose is found, it’s about 50/50 ratio. For example in fruits and honey.
Over consumption of fructose has been linked to increased weight gain, higher triglyceride levels and cholesterol, high blood pressure and insulin resistance, higher small dense LDL cholesterol, and fatty liver.
Metabolism in the body is the issue
Sucrose and fructose are virtually the same thing because it’s the fructose component that affects your body – meaning eating sugar is not a good thing. Remember, it's 50% glucose, 50% fructose.
When glucose is metabolized it gets digested and can be used by the body for energy or stored as glycogen in the muscles or liver for later use as energy. This is usually a fairly efficient process, though this mechanism doesn't work as effectively if you're diabetic.
On the other hand, fructose gets metabolized entirely by the liver.
What happens during the metabolism of fructose is basically three things:
1. Fructose gets metabolized to fat – it does not get used as energy like glucose but gets preferentially stored as fat.
2. Fructose creates more uric acid – increasing inflammation.
3. Fructose creates more free radicals – cancer and disease causing cells that we really don’t need.
None of these things is a good outcome for your health.
Increasing intake of fructose has been linked to increased weight gain and insulin resistance – because it has such a strong effect on the liver.
Fructose doesn't require insulin because it gets metabolized by the liver. For this very reason, when researchers first discovered it they thought it would make a great substitute for sugar. But now we know more about it, we know it's not safe for any of us to eat in large quantities. And if you're diabetic it only contributes to insulin resistance and worsens diabetes.
A lot of this might all seem a bit too technical, but it's good to understand sugar and fructose, and it's connection to diabetes and health problems.
If you have a spare hour to skip TV and watch this video by Dr Robert Lustig, it is very eye opening and explains the issues with fructose consumption.
Those images say it all!
Fruit Is Sugar
Although fruit is a natural food source, one thing to keep in mind is that fruit is high in natural sugar, predominantly fructose. This can be slightly problematic for a few different reasons.
All forms of sugar/ carbs can increase blood sugar levels – even fruit.
Fructose is managed solely by the liver and diabetes is both a pancreas and a liver problem. The thing is, you don’t need to clog up the liver anymore by adding the extra load of additional fructose.
Unnecessary burden on the body – sugar is sugar and your body is going to have to deal with that. The pancreas is forced to deal out more insulin, your cells have to welcome more glucose, and your liver has to process the fructose.
When you add additional load to the body and force it to deal with it, you are basically pushing the progression of your diabetes along much faster. You want it to slow down, not get faster. So is it really worth indulging?
Of course that doesn't mean you have to completely eliminate fruit, there are low sugar fruits that are best to eat. We'll be covering those in more detail in the coming days. But many people think fruit and fruit juice is a healthy choice but it's not – it's still sugar.
Sugar Is Toxic
It's a big statement to make, but the fact is that too much sugar is actually toxic to the human body.
Dr. William Coda Martin defines a poison as:
“Any substance applied to the body, ingested or developed within the body, which causes or may cause disease”.
After Dr DiNicolantonio conducted his study he said:
“It’s clear from our review that type 2 diabetes is driven by added sugar – ‘refined sugars, added sugars’”.
And just to point out that sugar really is a poison, in a most recent landmark study by Dr Robert Lustig, 43 obese children with at least one chronic metabolic disorder – high BP, cholesterol, etc., reduced their daily sugar intake from 28% to 10% and their fructose intake from 12% to just 4% of total calories.
- Fasting blood sugar DOWN 5 points!
- Insulin levels SLASHED by a third
- Blood pressure REDUCED
- Cholesterol REDUCED
- Liver function IMPROVED
IN JUST 10 DAYS!!
ALL of those indicators are associated with type 2 diabetes and metabolic conditions, which just proves that sugar is a MAJOR culprit – a poison and toxin that is making us all sick.
Sugar is Addictive
We all know it right?
So do food manufacturers!
Dr Eric Stice, a neuro-scientist, has done studies on the brain showing that the same ‘addiction' receptors are activated when we consume sugar as they are if we consume cocaine.
It's not just us thinking that it's hard to give up the sweet stuff – it really is very hard!
I know this myself because I've struggled on and off it over the years too. I always feel better without the stuff, and so will you.
Though it's hard to quit sugar, it is possible. And later in this Carb Course Series, we will cover appetite regulation, how to deal with sugar and carb cravings and supplements to help too.
Recommended Sugar Intake
Current dietary guidelines from the World Health Organization are to eat no more than 25 g or 6 teaspoons added sugar per day.
For type 2 diabetics (and anyone else), I'd recommend trying to steer clear of added sugar 24/7. Once you eat it, even in small amounts, it can be hard to control the beast.
Different Names For Sugar
There are said to be over 56-59 different names for sugar on food labels, which is why you can't leave it to the guessing, you must always read the labels.
Here are some names to look out for:
Yep, the food ‘industry' has kept the whole food labeling thing confusing on purpose, I'm sure of it. That way consumers have no idea and just buy based on price or front of pack labeling, which is very deceiving.
Not all of the above mentioned names for sugar are ‘bad' of course, but it just gives you an idea of all the different types of sweeteners we have available in our modern food supply.
Sugar video series
I'd highly recommend a fantastic series by Dr Robert Lustig and other researchers about sugar, obesity, hormones and health.
Well worth the watch. Here’s the link to the first video in the series click here.
Skip your usual TV and have the whole family watch it. Great stuff!
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