By Shahneel Ahmed
Naturally occurring sugar is found in foods that contain carbohydrates, such as fruits, vegetables, grains, and dairy. Consuming this sugar is not harmful to one’s health. The body digests foods that contain natural sugar slowly, and the sugar offers a steady supply of energy to the cells of the body. Consuming too much added sugar is harmful. Sugar is made up of glucose and fructose.
Although glucose is an essential nutrient and can be metabolized by most of the body, fructose is not. The liver is the only organ that can metabolize fructose. When large amounts of fructose are consumed, it gets turned into fat. The liver already has enough glycogen. Some of the fat may get transported out of the liver. The fat that gets left in the liver may build up over time and lead to Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease.
In addition, most high-sugar products contain very little essential nutrients. Those who consume such high-sugar products instead of more nutritious foods may develop a deficiency in many important nutrients. High-sugar products are often called “empty” calories due to their inefficient and minimal nutrient content. The fat that is produced in the liver gets transported out as Very Low Density Lipoprotein (VLDL). These are high in triglycerides and cholesterol.
According to HealthLine, people were assigned to drink 25% of calories as either a glucose-sweetened drink or a fructose-sweetened drink for 10 weeks in a controlled study. Those who consumed the fructose-sweetened drink had an increase in blood triglycerides, glucose and insulin, and fat in their abdominal cavity, compared to those who did not consume the drink. Such effects may lead to obesity, heart disease, diabetes, and overall poor health.
Sugar also causes a resistance to the hormone Leptin, which is secreted by our fat cells. Leptin functions as a signal to tell the brain when we are full. When leptin resistance occurs, the brain thinks that the body’s fat cells are empty and that the body needs to continue eating. Sugar can also affect one’s teeth by causing cavities. The bacteria that cause cavities thrive by consuming the sugar left over in the mouth. Sugar is also known to cause inflammation within the body. Therefore, high sugar consumption can worsen joint paint and increase one’s risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis. Furthermore, the inflammation caused by high sugar consumption may make one’s skin age faster.