Sugar – The Hidden Enemy

So what is sugar? I mean it’s those little white cubes that look like salt right? Is sugar just stuff I put in my corn flakes and coffee so they won’t suck as much, cause God knows they suck without it. Enough joking though let’s jump into the facts. Sugar is a crystalline substance of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen. Sugars are made in different ways and are very important to our bodies. Adenosine TriphosPhate or ATP for short is the fuel cell by which the body runs all its acts off of. The sugars we eat are broken down quickly in the body and converted to ATP releasing a lot of energy. That’s why after you eat or drink something sugary it is possible to get a sugar rush or sugar high. Your body takes in all that sugar and breaks it down and floods your body with quick often explosive energy. Do not give a kid candy and then expect them to sit down for long my friends. This often ends in the child doing the exact opposite. Make a note of that the energy that is not burned can and usually is stored for later (Code for it is stored as fats for later use.) Sugar is just the general name of the sweet substance; in fact sugar has up to 52 different names. There is a reason for so many names for sugar but in the interests of keeping this article focused and short I will be discussing the heavy hitter of artificial sugars and the natural sugars.

Let’s talk about High Fructose Corn Syrup or HFCS. High Fructose Corn Syrup is a common sweetener in sodas, candy bars, sports drinks, cookies, gummy anything, fruit juice, bread, tomatoes sauce, syrups, if you are living in America right now this guy is in about 85% of the foods we eat and yes that includes processed foods. Okay. It’s a sweetener so what? Let me explain. Sweeteners are substances used to improve the taste of foods or drinks. This allows companies to change their products in many ways. A product may have a lot of fat in it and they want to appeal to customers who like the product but are worried about the fat. Companies can remove the fats and use the sweeteners to make up for the taste. This sounds like a good idea except HFCS is a manufactured sugar. It is far from natural with its 1.7 sweetness index rating. (Glucose has a sweetness index of.75.) With HFCP being a cheap alternative sweetener many companies use it to improve the taste of their products. This is just a general view of HFCS but let us switch to the natural sugars. Natural sugars are usually in the form of sucrose and are accompanied with some amount of fiber. This means that natural sugars foods like sugar cane or even fruits give fiber with their sucrose. The fiber is the key lacking element from the processed products that are filled with HFCS. Soluble fiber, as mentioned in a previous article, helps to control blood sugar in your body, slowly releases energy and aids the hunger hormone Ghrelin in its function properly.

On to the next one which is the taste. Why does Sugar taste so good to us anyway? Once a sugary treat touches our tastes buds a signal of pleasure is sent to the brain similar to that of a signal that is sent from solving a puzzle or getting some kind of reward. Rewards are nice right? Who does not like rewards? Let’s refer back to the end of the last paragraph to the sweetness index. This is just me putting a few things together to come up with an answer but looking at the sweetness index for fructose, (1.7) the concentration of sweetness is higher so I feel it is safe to assume that fructose gives a stronger signal of pleasure than that of glucose or sucrose. If my assumption is anywhere close to being right then I could also say that with a stronger reward signal comes more of an incentive to consume more of it. Our bodies love the sweet stuff. Sugars are fast sources of energy and I think our bodies know this and reward the act of consuming this type of carbohydrates.

Next question. What sugar does for our bodies and what it does to our bodies? I should let it be known that sugar of any kind in large amounts is not good for you fructose, natural, etc… As I stated in the paragraph above sugars found naturally have fibers consumed alongside of them thus slowing down the rate at which it is absorbed and converted into glucose then later into ATP. Sugars, upon entering the body, are converted into glucose which is the bodies go to source of fuel. HFCS also are converted into glucose but at a faster rate. HFCS are engineered sweeteners that usually are not accompanied by fibers as they are removed in most processed foods as a way to extend the shelf life. Since HFCS has no chemical bonds it is absorbed into the blood stream more quickly which can lead to what is called a sugar rush. Fructose goes to the liver and triggers the fat production of fats like cholesterol. The absorption rate of fructose creates a big spike in insulin which is the body’s fat storage hormone.

With all of this information thus far I hope you have a general knowledge of sugars. There is more to get into however I wanted to keep this article short and I think it is long enough just covering the surface info. Now the question everyone has been waiting for. Why my father told me to watch out for sugar. Some readers may remember the times when people complained about fats leading to heart attacks, high blood pressure and other ailments. This of course was not helping those who sold products that contained a high level of fats so alternative searches began. Adding sweeteners was already in practice during the shift so using that to make up for the taste vacuum removing fats had created was not a huge leap and did not take long to take over. This is not bad by itself, it is just another way of doing things however sugars seem to be found in everywhere a consumer looks and does not look. This becomes a HUGE problem when you eat sugar for breakfast, sugar for lunch, sugar for a snack, sugar for dinner and sugar for dessert. We tried to avoid eating fats to slow down and lower the problems but by turn to artificial sweeteners I fear we have are headed directly towards what we say we do not want. This is why I check up my bed twice before I go to bed at night, once for the Boogie Man and another for Fructose Corn Syrup.

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