Sugar is one of the most common ingredients found in our food, no matter how much we try to avoid it. The temptation runs high, but the effects it can have on our health can be bitter. In the book “Why We Get Fat”, author Gary Taubes writes about obesity, refined carbohydrates, and sugar consumption. In an article, he analyses whether sugar and high fructose corn syrup is the dietary cause of chronic ailments like heart diseases, cancer, and hypertension.
George O’ Doherty, Professor of Chemistry and Chemical Biology at Northeastern University, opens up about the ill-effects of consuming sugar in high quantities.
The first question regarding sugar consumption that comes to mind is if sugar is toxic.
Well, many might not agree to the term ‘toxic’ here, because we consume sugar every day and in almost all the food that we eat. However, the reality is sugar is toxic for our system. A high-calorie diet, high in sugar may cause higher blood glucose levels, which results in obesity and is the main cause of diabetes.
Too much sugar can cause weight gain and risk of heart diseases and the villain of the lives of teenagers- acne. So, why sugar is so bad? There are two main reasons for this. Sugar causes high blood glucose concentrations which lead to appetite suppression mechanisms. It also affects your immune system. Furthermore, it also causes insulin resistance which causes diabetes, PCOS, and Alzheimer’s.
The second argument says that glucose and fructose are metabolised separately and are stored as energy in different ways. The good metabolising pathway makes absorbs glycogen out of glucose. Glycogen is the energy storage molecule. The bad pathway uses fructose which results in fatty acid synthesis. It is, therefore, advisable to reduce the intake of fructose and switch it with glucose. This is the easiest way to limit sugar consumption. For example- cutting down on soda.
Apart from this, sugar also leads to dental cavities and accelerates ageing. So, what should be our sugar limit intake?
The World Health Organisation (WHO) says that free sugars in our body should not exceed 10%. We should try to limit our calorie intake. To begin with, the consumption of fructose and sucrose should be reduced, and then the complex carbohydrates. Now to do so, there’s no need of having potatoes (carbohydrates) over tomatoes (fructose/sucrose). One just has to find a healthy substitute like fresh fruit juices and honey.
One cannot refuse a piece of cake easily. Hence, invest in taking small steps towards cutting down on sugar intake, be it natural or added sugar.