This is a substance that we seem to go out of our way to enjoy. Sugar is referred to as sweet-tasting soluble carbohydrates, of which many are used in food. There are various types of sugar from different sources. However, we may enjoy them all in our daily consumption of food. Does sugar have any nutritional value or other values? If we take it out of our diet, is this considered extreme? Here Jessica Brown, BBC.com, reflects on findings related to sugar:
“It’s hard to imagine now, but there was a time when humans only had access to sugar for a few months a year when fruit was in season. Some 80,000 years ago, hunter-gatherers ate fruit sporadically and infrequently, since they were competing with birds.
Now, our sugar hits come all year round, often with less nutritional value and far more easily – by simply opening a soft drink or cereal box. It doesn’t take an expert to see that our modern sugar intake is less healthy than it was in our foraging days. Today, sugar has become public health enemy number one: governments are taxing it, schools and hospitals are removing it from vending machines and experts are advising that we remove it completely from our diets.
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But so far, scientists have had a difficult time proving how it affects our health, independent of a diet too high in calories. A review of research conducted over the last five years summarised that a diet of more than 150g of fructose per day reduces insulin sensitivity – and therefore increases the risk of developing health problems like high blood pressure and cholesterol levels. But the researchers also concluded that this occurs most often when high sugar intake is combined with excess calories, and that the effects on health are “more likely” due to sugar intake increasing the chance of excess calories, not the impact of sugar alone.
Meanwhile, there is also a growing argument that demonizing a single food is dangerous – and causes confusion that risks us cutting out vital foods.
Sugar, otherwise known as ‘added sugar’, includes table sugar, sweeteners, honey and fruit juices, and is extracted, refined and added to food and drink to improve taste.
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But both complex and simple carbohydrates are made up of sugar molecules, which are broken down by digestion into glucose and used by every cell in the body to generate energy and fuel the brain. Complex carbohydrates include whole grains and vegetables. Simple carbohydrates are more easily digested and quickly release sugar into the bloodstream. They include sugars found naturally in the foods we eat, such as fructose, lactose, sucrose and glucose and others, like high fructose corn syrup, which are man-made.
Before the 16th Century only the rich could afford sugar. But it became more available with colonial trade.
Then, in the 1960s, the development of large-scale conversion of glucose into fructose led to the creation of high fructose corn syrup, a concentrate of glucose and fructose.
This potent combination, above any other single type of sugar, is the one many public health advocates consider the most lethal – and it is the one that many people think of when they think of ‘sugar’.
Consumption of high fructose corn syrup in the US increased tenfold between 1970 and 1990, more than any other food group. Researchers have pointed out that this mirrors the increase in obesity across the country.
Meanwhile, sugary drinks, which usually use high fructose corn syrup, have been central to research examining the effects of sugar on our health. One meta-analysis of 88 studies found a link between sugary drinks consumption and body weight. In other words, people don’t fully compensate for getting energy from soft drinks by consuming less of other foods – possibly because these drinks increase hunger or decrease satiety.
But the researchers concluded that while the intake of soft drinks and added sugars has increased alongside obesity in the US, the data only represents broad correlations.
And not everyone agrees that high fructose corn syrup is the driving factor in the obesity crisis. Some experts point out that consumption of the sugar has been declining for the past 10 years in countries including the US, even while obesity levels have been rising. There also are epidemics of obesity and diabetes in areas where there is little or no high fructose corn syrup available, such as Australia and Europe.
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High fructose corn syrup isn’t the only kind of sugar seen as problematic. Added sugar, particularly fructose, is blamed for a variety of problems.
For one, it’s said to cause heart disease. When liver cells break down fructose, one of the end products is triglyceride – a form of fat – which can build up in liver cells over time. When it is released into the bloodstream, it can contribute to the growth of fat-filled plaque inside artery walls.
One 15-year study seemed to back this up: it found that people who consumed 25% or more of their daily calories as added sugar were more than twice as likely to die from heart disease than those who consumed less than 10%. Type 2 diabetes also is attributed to added sugar intake. Two large studies in the 1990s found that women who consumed more than one soft drink or fruit juice per day were twice as likely to develop diabetes as those who rarely did so.
But again, it’s unclear if that means sugar actually causes heart disease or diabetes. Luc Tappy, professor of physiology at the University of Lausanne, is one of many scientists who argue that the main cause of diabetes, obesity and high blood pressure is excess calorie intake, and that sugar is simply one component of this.”
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Read More … Article Source: http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20180918-is-sugar-really-bad-for-you
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