THE GOOD AND THE BAD ABOUT SUGAR
While current research has shown that people I general have reduced their consumption of fat, there are more alarming findings about sugar consumption. Obesity has now been declared a worldwide epidemic and statistical evidence suggests that obesity has more to do with sugar consumption than fat consumption. We need a reasonable understanding of different sugars in order to make the right choices.
Sugars of one type occur naturally in foods like fruits and vegetables. Processed sugars which have a different constitution are added to foods, fruit juices and other drinks as sweeteners in order to make the products more palatable. Herein lies the difference between wat is good and what is bad.
We need to differentiate between sugars classified as monosaccharides and disaccharides and then we need to get familiar with the terms fructose, sucrose, glucose, lactose and galactose. Then, there’s the role glucose vs. glycogen in our bodies. It gets complicated, so let’s keep to the essentials.
Monosaccharides are the simplest form of sugar and include fructose, glucose and galactose. Fructose occurs naturally in fruits, honey, berries and most root vegetables. Your consumption of the foods in which it occurs naturally is healthy. Other monosaccharides include glucose and galactose.
A U.S. survey reveals that about 9% of average caloric intake comes from fructose. Only one-third of this fructose comes from fruit, while the other two-thirds come from added refined sugars, this is where you will find a correlation between unhealthy sugar consumption and obesity.
Disaccharides are carbohydrates that are created when two monosaccharides are joined. The best known disaccharide is sucrose, commonly known as table sugar, I which a fructose molecule is joined with a glucose molecule. Another common disaccharide is lactose, found only in milk, in which a glucose and a galactose molecule are combined.
Glucose is a sugar that our metabolism converts into energy. Our brain and other tissues require a constant supply of blood glucose to survive. Glucose, transported via the bloodstream, is the primary source of energy for the body’s cells. It is the prime metabolic fuel source for most organisms, from bacteria to humans.
Our body produces glucose when we digest the sugar and star that are contained in carbohydrates. Such foods include: rice, grains, pasta, potatoes, fruits and vegetables. Enzymes break down the starch and sugar into glucose which is absorbed into our bloodstream. The glucose combines with insulin and together they provide the energy for our muscles and brain.
It is vital to our health to keep glucose levels within a normal range. Because the energy originates from the foods we eat, our body has a mechanism for maintaining a normal range. This mechanism is seated in our liver which sores excess glucose as glycogen
GLUCOSE AND GLYCOGEN
Our body absorbs glucose from the foods we eat and this may obviously occur irregularly. The glucose that the bod does not use immediately is converted into glycogen.
Glycogen is a chain of glucose sub-units store primarily in the liver and in our muscles. This glycogen is used to buffer our blood glucose level. For example, our muscles use the glycogen stored in the liver for energy during strenuous exercise.
What is important in our pursuit of fat loss is the fact that any glucose in excess of the needs for energy and storage as glycogen is converted to fat. This is the underlying cause for the common argument that claims as follows:
- Fruit contains fructose
- Fructose turns to fat
- If you want to lose fat, do not eat fruit
This argument is essentially false because it ignores the way in which our body metabolizes fructose.
FRUCTOSE AND GLYCOGEN
Fructose can stimulate lipogenesis which means the accumulation and storage of fat. However, fructose is primarily stored in our liver as glycogen. The liver can comfortably handle a daily intake of 50 grams of fructose without storing any extra fat and it can store 100 grams of glycogen.
This is an important observation. A normal piece of fresh fruit contains approximately 6-7 grams of fructose so you would need to eat more than 5-7 pieces of fruit in a day to absorb 50 grams. In contrast, you can very easily absorb more than 50 grams of fructose by drinking a lot of carbonated soft drinks, or drinks sweetened with fructose corn syrup.
High fructose corn syrup (HFCS) consumption has increased dramatically and is now a main contributor to obesity. You need to understand the following misconceptions:
People confuse HFCS with fructose that occurs naturally in fresh fruit.
The entire weight of a piece of fruit is not made up of fructose; most of the weight includes water and fiber.
You will suffer no ill effects from eating several pieces of fresh fruit on a daily basis. What you need to steer away from is HFCS consumption and processed sugars added as sweeteners to food products and drinks.