31 January, 2012

Sugar facts

How bad is sugar? Any home in India will have sugar products. Every nutritionist suggests the importance of having more vegetables and fruits in your diet. But sugar, which is so cherished by adults and children alike, is not just unhealthy but can also be toxic. The latest researches are proving this.

Mothers shower love on their children by baking them cakes, cookies, giving them sweet lemonade on a hot summer day. Robert Lustig M.D, has researched on the subject and has evidence to prove that sugar is pure poison. Of course, his research is being criticized a lot. After all, sugar is a multi billion industry.

Sugar means sucrose- beet and cane sugar, white or brown sugar- high fructose corn syrup. High fructose corn syrup is part of all the aerated drinks. It is less expensive than refined sugar. But the two sweeteners have pretty much similar biological effects. Both of them are equally bad, poisonous and deadly. High-fructose corn syrup (HFCS), as it is most commonly consumed, is 55 percent fructose, and the remaining 45 percent is nearly all glucose. Luc Tappy, a researcher at the University of Lausanne in Switzerland who is considered by biochemists who study fructose to be the world’s foremost authority on the subject, said there was “not the single hint” that HFCS was more deleterious than other sources of sugar.

Consuming sugar(fructose and glucose)means more work for the liver than if you consumed the same number of calories of starch (glucose). If you take that sugar in liquid form —soda or fruit juices - the fructose and glucose will hit the liver more quickly than if you consume them, say, in an apple (or several apples, to get what researchers would call the equivalent dose of sugar). The speed with which the liver has to do its work will also affect how it metabolizes the fructose and glucose. This is why fruit is far superior choice than sugar.

The question, then, isn’t whether high-fructose corn syrup is worse than sugar; it’s what do they do to us, and
how do they do it? The conventional wisdom has long been that the worst that can be said about sugars of any kind is that they cause tooth decay and represent “empty calories” that we eat in excess because they taste so good. By this logic, sugar-sweetened beverages (or HFCS-sweetened beverages,as the Sugar Association
prefers they are called) are bad for us not because there’s anything particularly toxic about the sugar they contain but just because people consume too many of them.

Refined sugar and HFCS don’t come with any protein,vitamins, minerals, antioxidants or fiber, and so they either displace other more nutritious elements of our diet or are eaten over and above what we need to sustain our bodies and this is why we get fatter. Whether the empty-calories argument is true, it’s certainly convenient.
It allows everyone to assign blame for obesity and, by extension, diabetes — two conditions so intimately linked
that some authorities have taken to calling them “diabesity” —to overeating of all foods, or under-exercising, because a calorie is a calorie.

“This isn’t about demonizing any industry,”as Michelle Obama said about her Let’s Move program to combat the epidemic of childhood obesity. Instead it’s about getting us —or our children —to move more and eat less, reduce our portion sizes, cut back on snacks.

Dr. Lustig’s argument, however, is not about the consumption of empty calories and biochemists have made the same case previously,though not so publicly. It is that sugar has unique characteristics, specifically in the way the human body metabolizes the fructose in it, that may make it singularly harmful, at least if consumed in sufficient quantities.

The phrase Lustig uses when he describes this concept is “isocaloric but not isometabolic.” This means we can eat 100 calories of glucose (from a potato or bread or other starch) or 100 calories of sugar (half glucose and half fructose), and they will be metabolized differently and have a different effect on the body. The calories are the same, but the metabolic consequences are quite different. The fructose component of sugar and HFCS is metabolized primarily by the liver, while the glucose from sugar and starches is metabolized by every cell in the body.