It really bugs me that every single day we are being duped into believing that food on the supermarket shelves is healthy for us because is has “less fat”, “no artificial colours” or is “calorie free”. Many people really don’t understand food labels and quite simply don’t have a clue what they are really putting into their bodies. That probably explains why people are getting fatter, sicker and why chronic disease is on the rise.
Today I’m talking sugar and clearing up some of the confusing misconceptions around glucose and fructose and exposing the many disguises and aliases of sugar sneaking their way into your body.
The big misconception about fructose is that it ALL fructose is healthier than other sugars because it is found in fresh fruits. Unfortunately this is wrong. While the fructose consumed from fruit is easily metabolised by the body, the fructose that is used in many processed foods, fizzy drinks, baked products and tinned goods result in an overloaded and toxic liver. When large amounts of fructose are consumed in its concentrated form, (ie agave, high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS), crystalline fructose), it bypasses your gastrointestinal tract and goes straight to your liver which must work extra hard to process it. Not only that but fructose is converted into glycerol which can raise levels of triglycerides which are linked to increased risk of heart disease.
High fructose consumption has been linked to:
- Increased levels of circulating blood lipids
- Fat around the middle of the body
- Lowered HDL
- Increased levels of uric acid (linked with gout and heart disease)
- Cirrhosis of the liver
- Fatty liver
- The formation of AGE’s* (advanced end glycation products), which can lead to wrinkling and other signs of skin aging
High Fructose Corn Syrup
HFCS is in practically every processed food. And just because it is derived from corn, does not make it healthy or okay. It is more addictive than crack, is just as bad if not worse that white sugar and is genetically modified. It’s super easy and cheap to produce so you will find it in most sauces, processed and packaged foods. Do not be fooled!
Glucose is a simple sugar derived from starches. When starch is consumed, it gets converted into glucose, raises your blood sugar levels and gives you energy. Your pancreas must then release insulin which carry it to the cells that need it, storing any unused glucose into “long term storage” (which become fat cells). When glucose consumption is continuously high, the body begins to suffer. Consuming highly processed foods, simple starches such as white flour and white rice, and other sugary foods, the blood glucose level is raised to high levels. The pancreas can only deal with this for so long and eventually it becomes unable to efficiently release insulin. This can cause type 2 diabetes but also as the cells aren’t getting fed the glucose they require from the release of insulin, hyperglycemia can also be caused which has been linked to:
- Decreased immunity
- Poor wound healing
- Nerve damage
- Kidney failure
- High levels of blood lipids
- Heart attack and stroke
- Peripheral nerve disease
Many people have turned to artificial sweeteners in an attempt to be healthier but the reality is that these toxic alternatives have been linked to cancer, brain disorders, neurological problems and aches and pains. Ehem, I’ll pass on that thanks!
The food industry are duping us with different names for the same thing. Here are the many other names of sugar lurking in your everyday processed foods:
- Brown sugar
- Corn syrup
- Fruit juice concentrate
- High-fructose corn syrup
- Invert sugar
- Maple sugar
What sweet foods can I eat?
I know I know – I hear you cry “So what sweet things can I have?” Truth is sugar is sugar is sugar is sugar. However there are some healthier alternatives that you can have such as stevia (which has no effect on the blood sugar), raw honey, maple syrup, dates, date syrup, coconut sugar, xylitol and yacon syrup. But remember, they should be consumed in small amounts – just because they are healthier doesn’t mean you should go overboard. I’ll blog about this some more so keep your eyes peeled.
Here’s some extra reading on Breaking the sugar habit