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Sugar & Disease - Coincidence or Reality?

Posted on February 05, 2014 by Ruth Buttigieg | 0 comments

Over the past few weeks, sugar has been a main focus of media outlets. There have been a couple of TV programmes dedicated to debating the positives and negatives of sugar. However rather than shedding some light on the topic, these have all added to the confusion. So, how does sugar impact our overall health?

Unfortunately, the term sugar and carbohydrates are often used interchangeably and thus create more confusion than needs be. To clarify, in food science, sugars can be either simple (examples such as glucose and fructose) or complex (such as lactose, starch & dietary fibre) carbohydrates. Granulated sugar on the other hand, is made up of sucrose - a complex carbohydrate molecule consisting of glucose and fructose in a 1:1 ratio).

Carbohydrate Metabolism

Carbohydrate digestion starts in the mouth through salivary action, however the majority of digestion happens in the intestine through the action of a series of enzymes.  This degradation is required as it allows for carbohydrates to be absorbed easily through the intestinal lining.  

The main digestive difference between simple and complex carbohydrates is that simple carbohydrates do not need further digestion and thus are absorbed in their entirety. Complex carbohydrates however, require digestion into their simple carbohydrate components in order to be absorbed through the intestinal lining. Hence, whether the carbohydrate consumed was simple or complex, the end result is that it is the simple sugars that get absorbed. It is these simple sugars which in turn affect blood glucose levels as well as hormone stability.

So which sugar is which?

To make things worse, it is often portrayed that sugar coming from natural sources, such as fruits and vegetables, is better as for some mysterious reason it will not be digested or picked up by the body the same way that granulated white sugar is. This is completely misleading and shows a misunderstanding of human physiology.  Sugar, whether it be from granulated white sugar or from other sources, will be dealt with in the same manner by the human metabolism.

Sugar & Disease

Studies continue to show the adverse health implications associated with consuming too much sugar - whether it be granulated or from other sources. Consuming too much sugar, in any shape or form, is toxic and this puts extra pressure on the liver to process it and minimise the damage it can cause.

Too much sugar in the blood stream will cause damage to organ tissues and effectively stop the liver’s ability to burn fat for energy. In turn, too much sugar in the diet will be stored as body fat which if a high sugar diet continues will cause this stored body fat never to be used. Our bodies have an unlimited storage capacity for body fat.

Hence, stored fat, which is brought about from consuming sugars will cause inflammation in the body. Inflammation is an unwanted state as studies continually show that inflammation is a factor contributing to a variety of conditions such as metabolic syndrome, heart disease,  type 2 diabetes as well as certain autoimmune conditions. Studies are also shedding light on the issue that certain neurological conditions such as Alzheimer’s Disease may be caused by excessive sugars in the diet.

The bottom line is that evidence keeps mounting about the detrimental health impact of consuming too much sugar. The Natural Ketosis way of doing things is quite simple. We promote a low sugar low starch, high-protein, moderate-fat approach to diet. We embrace those sugars that are based on dietary fibre rather than simple and/or complex carbohydrates. By choosing vegetables and fruits low in sugar and starch, the essential micronutrient requirements are still met whilst ensuring no blood sugar spikes in the progress, maintaining hormone levels stable and therefore help bringing inflammation under control.

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