Medical professionals are starting to believe that sugar is to blame for the recent rise in metabolic syndrome. Metabolic syndrome describes the combined effects of diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. Why is sugar being blamed for increases in diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol? Read on to learn more about the effects of sugar on your body.
Sugar occurs naturally in all foods containing carbohydrates, including fruits, vegetables, and grains, but the sugar that you are used to typically comes in the form of table sugar, or sucrose. Sucrose is made up of little bundles of fructose and glucose molecules linked together.1 While glucose can be broken down by all cells in the body, fructose can only be broken down by the liver.
The normal amount of fructose in table sugar is 50%. Food manufacturers have replaced table sugar with high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) because it is cheaper and has a sweeter taste. 1 HFCS contains up to 65% fructose which taxes the liver even further.
Fructose Liver Disease
High amounts of sugar overloads the liver with fructose. Since fructose can only be broken down by the liver it stores the extra energy in fat which contributes to fatty liver disease. This is why fructose consumption tends to be higher in those with fatty liver disease.7
Fructose Causes Insulin Resistance
Insulin resistance is the hallmark of diabetes. The consumption of fructose causes insulin resistance2 in rats.
Fructose Reduces Signals for Fullness
Leptin is known as the “satiety hormone” because of its ability to manage long-term food intake and inhibit feelings of hunger. However, when the effects of fructose consumption are compared to an equal-calorie amount of glucose, fructose does not contribute to feelings of fullness or have an effect on food intake.3
Fructose Causes Overeating
Where leptin inhibits appetite, ghrelin stimulates appetite. Referred to as the “hunger hormone,” ghrelin is normally high around meal time and decreases once you have eaten. Studies suggest that fructose actually increases ghrelin levels, causing you to be hungrier and to overeat.4
Sugar Contributes to Heart Disease
Research is still looking at the exact effects of sugar on heart health, but studies understand that high sugar intake can have direct and indirect connections to heart disease. In a 2014 study published in JAMA Internal Medicine, researchers looked at the effects of added sugar on heart disease over a 15-year period.
The study found that participants who obtained at least 25 percent of their daily calories in the form of sugar were over twice as likely to suffer from heart disease compared to participants who got less than 10 percent of their daily calories from added sugar. This increased risk held true regardless of age, sex, body mass index, or physical activity levels.5
High sugar intake has also been linked to increased blood pressure and a higher risk of chronic inflammation. Both of these can pave the way to heart disease.6
Consuming Less Sugar
The best way to keep your sugar consumption in check is to read the label. Avoid soda, energy drinks, fruit juice, and other sugary beverages. Watch out for sugar and its many other names it can hide under such as high fructose corn syrup, evaporated cane juice, agave nectar, fruit juice, concentrated fruit juice, and molasses.
Replace sweets, junk food, and processed foods with fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
There are no federal guidelines for the recommended dietary allowance of sugar as it is technically a required nutrient in your diet. The American Heart Association suggests no more than 150 calories from added sugar per day.6
The main problem is the amount of added sugar hiding in the average American diet, which contributes to sugar’s addictive quality. Focusing on whole foods and high fiber fruits and vegetables can be a big step in preventing sugar’s detrimental effects on your heart and health. For a more detailed article on why sugar is bad for your health, click here.
This article was sponsored and written by the experts at DrFormulas.