The truth about sports, nutrition and pain!

Sugar, the hidden enemy!

As I have mentioned in other posts( https://sports-diet-pain.com/2013/10/18/international-chair-on-cardiometabolic-risk/), there has been a huge increase in obesity and diabetes in the last 50-60 years. It is such a huge problem that obesity is now a World Wide Epidemic, and recent studies are suggesting that a reason for this is the increase in amount of sugar we are eating. First, let´s explain what sugar is.

Sugar is not only the white granulated stuff that we put in coffee and sprinkle on cereal -which by the way is called sucrose- but also high-fructose corn syrup. High-fructose corn syrup replaced sugar in sodas and other products in the early 1980s, in part because refined sugar then had the reputation as generally noxious nutrient (meaning a bad nutrient). High-fructose corn syrup was portrayed by the food industry as a healthful alternative, and that is how the public perceived it. But recently this has started to change, companies have realized that high-fructore corn syrup was getting a bad rap and have decided to start using sugar again, saying that it is healthier, but is this true?

Well, according to professor Robert Lustig -a specialist on pedriatic hormone disorders and the leading expert in childhood obesity at the University of California- sugar and high fructose corn syrup are the same, meaning they are both bad, he even uses the word poisonous!

Refined sugar (that is sucrose) is made up of a molecule of the carbohydrate glucose, bonded to a molecule of the carbohydrate fructose, so it is 50-50. The fructose, which is almost twice as sweet as glucose, is what distinguishes sugar from other carbohydrate rich foods like bread or potatoes that break down upon digestion into glucose alone. High-fructose corn syrup is 55% fructose and 45% glucose. So you see, there isn´t really a big difference between sugar and high fructose corn syrup. Now let us get to the important  information and find out why both of them are quite bad.

  1. Refined sugar and high fructose corn syrup don´t come with any protein, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants or fiber, in other words they are basically empty calories.
  2. According to Prof Lustig ¨sugar has unique characteristics, specifically in the way the human body metabolizes the fructose in it¨. So let me give an example to explain things better. Imagine we eat 100 calories of glucose (from a potato or bread) or 100 calories of sugar (half glucose and half fructose). Those 100 calories which are the same will metabolize differently and have a different effect on the body, because the fructose component of sugar and high fructose corn syrup will primarily be metabolized by the liver, while the glucose from sugar and carbohydrates(potato, bread) will be metabolized by every cell in the body.
  3. They have done studies on animals and have seen that if the fructose hits the liver in sufficient quantity and sufficient speed, the liver will convert much of it to fat. When you take sugar in liquid form (sodas), the fructose reaches the liver faster. This apparently induces a condition know as insulin resistance, which is considered the fundamental problem in obesity, diabetes and heart disease.

Since I want you guys to stay with me I´m going to recap.

  • Sugar (sucrose) is 50% glucose and 50% fructose
  • High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) is 45% glucose and 55% fructose.
  • Refined sugar and HFCS are basically empty calories.
  • The molecule of fructose found in sugar and HFCS is broken down by the liver. If the fructose hits the liver in sufficient quantity and with sufficient speed, the liver will convert much of it to fat. This apparently induces a condition know as INSULIN RESISTANCE.

I will leave it like that for the moment since there is a lot of information for you guys to absorb, but in my next post I will try to explain what insulin resistance is, why it leads to diabetes, and how all this is related to SUGAR.

References

Lustig RH. Fructose: It´s ¨alcohol without the buzz¨. Adv Nutr, 2013 Mar 1; 4(2):226-35.

BasuS, Yoffe P, Hills N, Lustig RH. The relationship of sugar to population-level diabetes prevalence: an econometri analysis of repeated cross sectional data. Plos One, 2013:8(2)

Weiss R, Bremer AA, Lustig RH. What is metabolic syndrome, and why are children getting it? Ann N Y Acad Scie, 2013 Apr; 1281:123-40.

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Comments on: "Sugar, the hidden enemy!" (3)

  1. […] Sugar, the hidden enemy! (sports-diet-pain.com) […]

  2. […] Sugar, the hidden enemy! (sports-diet-pain.com) […]

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