Anything that gives a sweet taste in foods such as sucrose, honey, lactose, maltose, etc. is a sugar molecule that stimulates insulin release and will have what is called a high glycemic index. This also includes any refined carbohydrates such as white flour, white rice, all bakery products, cakes, cookies, candy, etc. All of these kinds of “foods” will stress the blood sugar regulating systems in the body. When digested, they are broken down into pure glucose and fructose, which has the same effect as eating refined sugar itself. Artificial sweeteners have been shown to have negative effects on the body as well, and should be avoided. This includes aspartame, saccharin, sucralose and any other synthetic sweeteners.
Sugar is essential as an energy source for the cells, and low blood sugar levels will impair energy production and brain function, also causing hypoglycemia symptoms. However, high blood sugar levels contribute to many diseases, including, as you all know, Type 2 Diabetes. Some of us are unaware of the effect that sugar and refined carbohydrates have on our health, other than knowing that it promotes obesity. Most people do not know, for instance, that it also is a major cause of high cholesterol and cardiovascular disease.
To understand the quantity of sugar in common foods:
This is self-evident. It is easy to become accustomed to sweetness in foods, and it does promote cravings for more sugar. Also, when sugar is absorbed and metabolized, it produces a waste product called Aldehyde, which has similar effects on the nervous system to other addictive substances like alcohol and nicotine. This can lead to poor brain function such as memory, cognition, and behavior problems. In children, symptoms of sugar addiction are the same as in adults, but can also contribute to impaired brain development, lower IQ, and emotional and behavioral problems, as well as childhood obesity.
Apart from the quantity of sugar in food, the rapidity in which it is digested and absorbed into the bloodstream is extremely important. This is referred to as the Glycemic Index. Low-fiber carbohydrate sources, such as all refined foods, allow glucose to enter the bloodstream too quickly, causing an insulin spike which will eventually lead to inflammation and insulin resistance, with the end result being Metabolic Syndrome, obesity and Type 2 diabetes.
This is why complex carbohydrates are much better, since the fiber in them will slow down the absorption and release of glucose into the bloodstream. This avoids overly-stressing the body’s insulin regulation, and helps maintain a more steady blood sugar level.
So, high-fiber foods are good, and low-fiber foods are less healthy.
For example, if our body weight is 60 kg/132 lbs, the blood circulation in our body would be around 4000 ml or 4 gram per 4 liters of blood. Our blood sugar level should then be no more than 4000 mg per 4 liters of blood. (1 tsp of refined sugar is around 5 grams of glucose). So we really need the equivalent of just 1 tsp of sugar or less, in our bloodstream.
Chronic over-consumption of sugars leads to what is called Insulin Resistance, where the cells become less able to respond to insulin, leading to excess sugar levels in the blood and tissues. The body will store the excess sugar as glycogen, mainly in the liver and muscle tissues which can cause impaired liver function and enlargement of the liver. Excess blood sugar will also cause excess production of Triglycerides, a type of lipid that is used for energy. High triglyceride levels contribute tometabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, inflammation, and fatty liver, and obesity.
As stated above, excess sugar consumption will cause a dysfunction of normal blood sugar regulation by the following processes:
Excess sugar intake tends to cause nutritional deficiencies, partly because of low nutrient levels in processed foods, and also the need for increased nutrients to deal with the toxic effects of excess sugar. The metabolizing of excess sugar will draw nutrients away from other metabolic processes, leading to deficiencies in metabolic enzymes, amino acids, fatty acids etc.
This in turn promotes diseases such as:
High blood sugar will impair production and activity of the T-lymphocyte system, which is our defense mechanism against foreign materials, pathogens, and cancer cells. Chronic high sugar consumption will promote susceptibility to infections and cancer.
Sugar levels lower than 700 mg/liter or 70 mg/dl of blood will have negative effect on brain function. If sugar levels drop down to 500 mg/liter or 50 mg/dl of blood, thebrain will shut down unless glycogen is quickly broken down into glucose and released back into the bloodstream. Otherwise brain damage would result.
The brain has the ability to function on an alternative energy source known as Ketones, but it takes a number of days for the metabolism to switch to burning ketones for energy. This process is called Ketosis, and can be an effective method of fat burning and weight loss. So, we need a steady level of blood sugar, which can be maintained by Including just a small amount of sugar in the diet. If blood sugar levelsfall too low, then glycogen will be metabolized into glucose to bring the sugar level back up to a safe level.
The brain does not store glycogen, so it is most affected by low blood sugar, and is why blood glucose needs to be kept in the range of 70-100 mg/100 ml of blood.
Sugar is best obtained through vegetables and high-fiber starches such as whole grains, squash and sweet potatoes. Since the body is able to convert protein into sugar, high-protein foods are also a good source of sugar. Lipids (fats) in foods can also be metabolized into sugar, but at a slow level so they do not contribute to high blood sugar. Fruits are high in sugar and are nutrition the-rich sources of sugar that should be eaten in moderation and as whole fruits not dried or in juice form.