What is sugar?
Sucrose, table sugar, or simply „sugar“ is a disaccharide. Disaccharides are a type of carbohydrates which are part of our macro-nutrients: carbohydrates, fats, and proteins. Carbohydrates are chemical compounds containing carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen.
You can find carbs (carbohydrates) in various types: Monosaccharides are simple sugars such as glucose (dextrose), fructose, and galactose. Disaccharides are two monosaccharides chemically bonded such as sucrose (glucose & fructose), maltose and lactose. Oligo-/Polysaccharides are longer chains of sugars such as amylose, amylopectin, glycogen. Dietary fiber is an example of an indigestible polysaccharide.
What is the problem with consuming sugar?
First of all, we eat way too much of it – almost 17% of an average American’s daily calories come from clean sugar. 200 years ago, the yearly intake of it was about 4 pounds. Nowadays, the average yearly intake is 160 pounds!
The problem is: Table sugar/sucrose as well as fructose which you can find in corn syrup as a sweetener are shown to be addictive: That’s why sugar is also called „a legal drug“.
But that’s not the only problem: There is also evidence that sugar consumption may lead to pre-diabetes, obesity, liver toxicity, hypertension, kidney damage as well as kidney disease, cardiovascular disease and last but not least impairment of arterial function.
It’s not just the table sugar or syrup: it’s also processed food as well. Due to its lack of nutrients, fiber, and phytochemicals/phytonutrients which you can find in whole fruits and vegetables, the uptake of sugars in the intestine is very fast. These causes are very high peak of blood sugar and insulin level.
Fruit juices with extracted fruits are resorbed in the same way as simple sweet water. This extracted fructose – we are not talking about the fructose you consume when eating a real fruit/vegetable – can trigger processes leading to chronic diseases as well as liver toxicity.
Furthermore, table sugar, as well as syrup, do not have any nutritional value: You consume empty calories. Sucrose does not contain any essential micro-nutrient. In fact, some syrups may contain traces of mercury which is known to be toxic.
What happens when we eat sugar?
Studies show decreased dopamine sensitivity as well as dopamine levels in obese people. The same thing happens to people being addicted to cocaine or alcohol. The reduction of dopamine receptors is associated with addictive behavior – no matter if it’s caused by food or known addictive drugs such as cocaine or alcohol. Dopamine is one of the main neurotransmitters in our brain linked to our reward system. Having not enough or producing not enough dopamine means you need more of the addictive substance to keep your level. For example, alcohol addicts need to drink more and more alcohol to have the same feelings of happiness.
It’s the same with sugar: That’s why we can found added sugar almost everywhere, even in tomato ketchup. We’re supposed to have the feeling of happiness while eating it (due to its sweetness) and connect these feelings to ketchup itself to buy it again and again. Same with chocolate. If we reduce our sugar intake radically, we are going to feel awful for a few days: These are typical withdrawal symptoms.
What can I do?
There are several ways to avoid sugar – but to be honest, the only recommendation is: Reduce your all over sugar intake. There are sweeteners such as aspartame, saccharin, xylitol, stevia, erythritol, and many more – blog posts are coming soon. But most of these sweeteners don’t really improve your health and situation.
Even the American Heart Association realized the need for change and released some new sugar guidelines: Most American women and men should not consume more than 100 (women) or 150 (men) calories from added sugars. This means, you shouldn’t eat or drink more than 25-40 g of added sugar a day. That’s more or less one can of coke or soda.
One thing is clear: There is only one way to reduce your cravings for sweets and candies – you have to reduce your entire consumption of it, no matter which sweeteners are used.
What about you? Would you manage to reduce your daily intake? Did you ever realize that sugar is almost everywhere – even in the food we never thought about it? Tell us 🙂
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Here you can find all sources used for this blog post – but don’t get frightened, it’s quite a lot 🙂