|The Not-So-Sweet Health Risks Behind Sugar|
|Written by Émilie St-Hilaire, Four Green Steps|
|Monday, 24 September 2012 00:00|
Written by Émilie St-Hilaire, Four Green Steps
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High consumption of added sugars is often associated with some health problems, such as obesity, diabetes, and heart diseases. But can we really blame sugar for these health problems? Here is a close look at the relation between sugar and these health issues.
Obesity: If eaten in excess, calories of sugar is stored as body fat. Soft drinks are high in added sugar, as they are sweetened with high-fructose corn syrup. Children that are already overweigh increase by 60% their probability of suffering from obesity by consuming sweetened drinks daily. According to some researchers, energy from liquid sugar is not recognized by the body, so it will not reduce other food intakes to compensate these calories. A hypothesis suggesting that the brain reacts to sugar by producing a sensation of pleasure. This creates an unconscious incentive for increasing sugar consumption above the daily energy intake needs. In other words, this is why we sometimes have cravings for foods such as chocolate, cakes, donuts, cookies. It is still hard however to recognize that sugar alone leads to obesity, as other nutrients can also contribute.
Diabetes: In type 2 diabetes, insulin is not able to move glucose from the bloodstream to the cells. This results in a high glucose density in the blood. Sugar itself yields a moderate glycemic effect in comparison to high-starch foods, such as baked potatoes (the starch of the potato is all glucose), which has a high glycemic index. From this, we can conclude that there is no direct causation of diabetes by sugar. However, diabetes is in a close relationship with high body fatness. If we consider the fact that excessive consumption of added sugar increases body fat, then we can say there is an indirect relation between sugar and diabetes.
Heart Disease: If double of the average population intake of sugar is consumed, saturated fat will be released in the blood and there will be a decrease the level of protective blood lipid (good cholesterol) which can increase the risk of heart disease. Therefore, a moderate consumption of sugar that is tailored to personal needs based on genetic predisposition (some people will produce more saturated fat in response to sugar intake) will not cause heart disease. It is known however that diabetes and obesity can increase the risk of heart disease.
Two things to take away from the article: consider any genetic predisposition to certain health conditions, and try adapting your diet to your personal needs. And remember, moderation is the key to a healthy lifestyle.
Image courtesy of Creative Commons.
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