Sugar: Friend or Foe?

Most of us love the taste of something ‘sweet’, and although sugar in its many forms is a normal part of our daily diet, sadly (!) too much of it can cause ill-health and accelerate ageing. Science has been studying our intake of sugar and it has been proven that some forms of sugar are taking a toll on our health.

The single largest source of calories in our western diet comes from sugar – specifically high fructose corn syrup. Studies have shown that our consumption of it has increased dramatically in recent years.

Why we need glucose — not fructose

  • Our body’s primary source of energy comes from glucose – every cell in the body uses glucose for energy.
  • Glucose is made from the break-down of starches such as carbohydrates, and carbohydrates are more easily converted into glucose; they are even considered the preferred source of energy by both body and brain.
  • High fructose foods or drinks are absorbed immediately and go straight to the liver, causing a metabolic disaster.
  • Fructose elevates uric acid.

In his book ‘The Sugar Fix: The High-Fructose Fallout That is Making You Fat and Sick‘, Dr. Robert J. Johnson makes a compelling argument for a previously unrecognized connection between excess sugar consumption and high uric acid levels.

How Does Your Body Produce Uric Acid? It’s a by-product of cells breaking down. As cells die off, DNA and RNA degrade into chemicals called purines. Purines are further broken down into uric acid. Fructose increases uric acid through a complex process that causes cells to burn up their ATP rapidly, leading to “cell shock” and increased cell death.

An excerpt from an article in ‘Time – Health and Science’

‘Think that all sugars are the same?  They may all taste sweet to the tongue, but it turns out your body can tell the difference between glucose, fructose and sucrose, and that one of these sugars is worse for your health than the others.

In the first detailed analysis comparing how our systems respond to glucose (which is made when the body breaks down starches such as carbohydrates) and fructose, (the type of sugar found naturally in fruits), researchers at the University of California Davis report in the Journal of Clinical Investigation that consuming too much fructose can actually put you at greater risk of developing heart disease and diabetes than ingesting similar amounts of glucose.

Research has shown that even two weeks without consuming sugar will cause your body to be less reactive to it’.

To read more of this article click here.

You may think, even if fruit contains fructose it also contains vitamins and other antioxidants doesn’t it?  This is true, and those reduce fructose’s more hazardous effects.  But although fruit juices contain antioxidants too, greater quantities tend to be consumed in one sitting resulting in large amounts of fructose entering the body.

Drinking a large amount of fruit juice can be nearly as detrimental to health as ‘fizzy’ drinks.  It is wiser to limit your intake of fruit juices and drink (diluted) vegetable juices instead.

As counter-intuitive as it sounds as well, you are better off staying away from ‘sugar-free’ or ‘fructose-sweetened’ foods, and eat smaller amounts of foods containing glucose or sucrose.