Raise your hand if you love your sweets. Ok, now raise your hand if after every meal especially dinner all you want is sugar. <My hand is raised, heck, BOTH of my hands are raised!> I love sweets. Give me a good piece of chocolate and I am a happy girl. I love to get frozen yogurt on my treat meals and I am always looking for alternative ideas to create sweet treats that are GOOD and NUTRITIOUS! Remember the post about chronic inflammation? Well sugar is a HUGE contributor to inflammation as well as a contributor to non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, cancer and obesity. Sugar is not soo sweet!
There are several health concerns that stem from sugar that are disturbing and downright nasty. I want to first map out sugar (what it is, the different forms, and where it comes from) then discuss just a few ways sugar affects the body. Tomorrow in part two, I will post more concerns caused by sugar and how to kick your sugar cravings in the derrière!
Sugar is a carbohydrate. If there is an ‘ose’ present, it is going to be sugar. Sugar comes in the simple form (called monosaccarides) and includes glucose, fructose, and galactose. Sugar also comes in the form of disaccharides (combination of sugars) such as sucrose, maltose and lactose.
Glucose is naturally occurring in plants, fruits and is burned as energy in our bodies or it is converted into glycogen and is stored for later use.
Fructose is known as the fruit sugar, that occurs naturally in, well….fruit! It also occurs in honey and cane sugar, thus it is very sweet!
Sucrose is found in the roots of sugar beets, in the stems of the sugar cane and is also found in other fruits and plants.
Lactose is milk sugar! It is a disaccharide that is composed of glucose and galactose and makes up about 3-8% of milk depending on the individual or species.
Sugar typically comes from the harvesting of sugar cane or sugar beets. These plants are harvested, processed and refined until you get the white sugar product most of us love. Sugar is very high in calories and contains no nutritional value (termed “empty calories”). Below are just a couple impacts sugar has on the body.
Sugar can overload your liver. Before sugar even enters the blood stream it is important to understand the molecular makeup of sugar. Sugar can be broken down into glucose, which is found in every cell of the body and if we do not consume it in our diet, our body produces it, and fructose, which our body does not produce in significant amounts. Fructose can only be metabolized by the liver which typically is not an issue if consumed in small amounts or if we just completed working out (in which the fructose gets converted into glycogen and is stored). Where the problem occurs is when the liver glycogen stores are full and there is an abundance of fructose, the body converts the fructose into fat (diabetesjournal). If one were to consume large quantities of sugar, this can lead to a fatty liver.
Sugar is highly addictive. Have you ever done a sugar detox? The longer you go without sugar, the better you feel and the cravings subdue significantly over time. On the contrary, have you ever noticed that when you eat something sweet such as cake or cookies, you crave more sweets? Sugar can be highly addictive because it can trigger the brain’s reward center to release mass quantities of dopamine, similar to the response that abusive drugs cause.
Sugar (specifically fructose) can trick your metabolism into storing fat by switching off your appetite control center in the body. Fructose does not properly stimulate insulin (a very important hormone in the body that allows glucose into the cells from the blood). When insulin is not properly stimulated, ghrelin (the hunger hormone) is insufficiently suppressed and leptin (the satiety hormone) is not stimulated. The result…Eating more!
Tomorrow’s post will include a few more reasons why to kick the sugar habit, how to do so, and a sweet recipe that is downright delicious!
Take care of you,