Yes, it is. And now we have a lot of research to prove it. First of all, it is important to know that it is not a food that you need, contrary to what many people think. It wasn’t until the 18th century that sugar truly began to be used in cooking. Sugars are in the family of carbohydrates, but they do not have the same metabolism as most carbohydrates.
We don’t die from an overdose of sugar, but consuming it in large quantities affects longevity and contributes to diabetes, metabolic syndrome or fatty liver overload.
It is believed that sugar is essential for the body. Is it so?
There’s that terminology problem again. Glucose is our primary fuel, not sugar. Sugar causes the proteins and lipids that make up our cells to break down. This reaction is called glycation. We need glucose, but too much sugar is toxic to our cells, so the body has created a very complex regulatory system, particularly the production of insulin. Disruption of this process occurs in diabetes.
Fast and slow carbs?
There are different types. The simplest molecules, monosaccharides, are glucose, fructose and galactose. These molecules are absorbed very quickly. Once they enter the intestines, they pass into the bloodstream and the liver, where they are metabolized. Disaccharides consist of two simple sugars. These include sucrose (food sugar), which consists of glucose and fructose, or lactose, a milk sugar consisting of glucose and galactose. They are also very quickly digested and processed. In common parlance, they are called fast sugars.
Polysaccharides are the second type of carbohydrate. They are made up of a large chain of sugar molecules. These are, for example, the starch found in flour, pasta, and bread. Before polysaccharides can be digested, they must be broken down into many small molecules. In everyday language, they are called slow sugars.
What effect do so-called fast and slow sugars have on the body?
They’re different, of course. When you take a fast sugar, your blood sugar levels go up as fast as they go down. That’s the glycemic index. And the higher the glycemic index of a product, the more toxic it must be to our cells. As a result, our body triggers a mechanism to reduce sugar to one gram per liter of blood, the normal level for the human body. The pancreas then goes into action and releases more or less insulin depending on the need to lower it.
What does this mean?
The more you eat foods with a high glycemic index – usually all foods with a sweet taste – the more you expose your cells to toxic effects, which the body will have to fight by activating its defense system. On the other hand, if you consume slow sugars, the aggression is less violent. Thus, the sugar consumed is easier for the body to digest. Therefore, good nutrition depends to a large extent on how you provide carbohydrates to the human body.
Hidden or added sugar. What is it?
It is simply the sugar that is added to the food industry’s cooking. We love the sweet taste, and the food industry is taking full advantage of it. It is added to just about everything, including unsweetened foods: condiments, frozen foods, etc. Sugar and salt magnificently intensify the taste, which affects the sales of the product.
Thus, adding sugar to food, consuming desserts and products with hidden sugar can very quickly exceed the minimum daily dose.
The human body can do just fine without added sugar. For centuries, humans have not eaten sweets, chocolate, cakes, and cakes, and have not added sugar to their tea. At the same time, people have always consumed foods that are naturally rich in fructose, which have less harmful effects because fruits contain fiber, vitamins, etc.
What are the risks of exceeding your daily sugar intake?
The link between sugar and many pathologies such as obesity, heart problems, metabolic syndrome and cancer has now been established. Around the world, scientists and researchers follow large groups of people over a long period of time who agree to provide regular information about their health, lifestyle and physical activity, and to undergo regular tests, clinical examinations and blood tests. These study groups can reach as many as 60,000 people. Through these studies, a clear link has been demonstrated between sugar intake and weight gain, increased body mass index and the development of metabolic syndrome, a pre-diabetic condition that is itself a cardiovascular risk factor. There was also found to be a 20-25% increase in the risk of developing diabetes between people who consumed too much sugar and those who followed recommendations. The risk of coronary heart disease and heart disease also increased. Researchers also found a link between high consumption of sugary drinks and gout. This is interesting because for a long time, doctors have not banned sugar in the presence of this particular inflammatory type of rheumatism.
It is believed that sugar can cause fatty degeneration of the liver. Is this true?
This question is interesting because it brings us back to the relationship between fat and sugar. The fructose found in sweetened beverages and ingested in large quantities is converted to fat by the liver. The cells of the liver accumulate it, and it becomes like little balls of fat. For a long time this was tied to alcohol consumption. But now we know it can be caused by excess fructose in soft drinks and sugary drinks. Most alarmingly, this pathology, called nonalcoholic fatty liver disease or metabolic liver disease, was the first cause for consultation in hepatology. This disease cannot be called benign, as it can develop into cirrhosis, which is itself a risk of developing liver cancer.
Taking all this into consideration, we want to emphasize one more time about the necessity of dietary balance and consciousness in choosing products. Take care of yourself!