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Who does not like sweets? Who would refuse a piece of cake or a pastry with coffee? These strong addictive goods are full of sugars and almost everyone knows that sugar is unhealthy. Despite sugars are of a great importance in body functioning, people should not consume it. This article will describe the sugar transformations in the organism and its influence on people’s health.
It is hard to believe, but the effect of sugar on the brain is very similar to that one of narcotics. Just as a narcotic, sugar also releases large amounts of dopamine and serotonin, “the happiness hormones”. Thus, you get addicted and want to eat more sweets.
Sugar transformations in the organism.
On a chemical level, the sugar powder is a combination of two molecules (monosaccharides) – fructose and glucose, which forms sucrose. When sucrose enters the digestive tract, it immediately affects nearby tissues and organs. Once in the circulatory system, sugar is transported throughout the body, gains access to cells and becomes a source of energy. Glucose is the most important substance for this cycle: almost 80% of our energy expenditure comes from it. Nutritionists often distinguish the concept of good and bad sugar. The good ones are fructose and lactose. Fructose is found in fruits, lactose is found in milk and, in smaller amounts, from dairy products. When a man consumes the corresponding products, he gets unprocessed and the healthiest sugar, as well as a huge number of beneficial substances. But refined types, like sugar from a grocery store in its pure form, as well as contained in juices, sodas, sweets, semi-finished products, are considered harmful sugar and bring a lot of health problems.
As soon as glucose enters the bloodstream, the body sends signals to the pancreas, where insulin is produced. This is a hormone that serves as a kind of key for the body’s cells. It binds to receptors on the cells surface, allowing cells to absorb glucose. It is known that part of the blood glucose is stored in the liver as glycogen. However, the liver can store only a small part of the glucose. Excess sugar in the blood is involved in other biochemical processes and turns into fat, which is deposited in the organs. Glucose is necessary for the proper functioning of the liver: it helps neutralize toxins (that’s why injections of glucose may be prescribed for severe intoxication). It is also this component of sugar powder that is involved in the production of serotonin, the hormone responsible for a good mood and stable emotional state.
Fructose tends to break down in the cells into simpler carbohydrates, which form fat molecules. These ones are also energy depots but less accessible: a whole chain of chemical processes take place in the body to activate them.
Influence on people’s health
Heart. Recent research shows that sugar (not fat) is one of the leading causes of cardiovascular disease due to affecting the pumping mechanism of the heart and increasing the risk of heart failure.
Leads to obesity and overweight. Most foods with high sugar content have very little nutrients and fiber. Meanwhile, dietary fiber slows the absorption of sugar and ensures blood glucose stability. Food enriched in fiber, fats and protein provide long-lasting satiety. This reduces the risk of overeating. In addition, added sugar is empty calories and virtually no satiety. This is why people become hungry within an hour of going to a fast-food restaurant.
Added sugar can be harmful to the liver. Before sugar enters the bloodstream from the digestive system, it is broken down into two simple sugars: glucose and fructose. The liver must convert fructose to glucose in order to use as energy source. A small amount of fructose (for example, from fruit) won’t hurt. In this case, fructose is converted to glycogen and stored in the liver until the organism will need it. However, the liver can only store a limited amount of glycogen. Excess glycogen overloads this organ, and fructose turns into fat. Frequent consumption of large amounts of sugar can lead to fatty liver and other serious health issues.
Excessive sugar consumption can lead to cancer. A number of scientists believe that a persistent increase in insulin levels (due to excessive consumption of sugary foods and drinks) may contribute to the development of cancer. In addition, metabolic diseases play a role in inflammation, which is another trigger for the development of cancer. Inflammation leads to the production of free radicals. Free radicals seek stability by taking electrons away from other molecules, which can lead to a chain reaction that damages cells, proteins and DNA. Excessive free radicals can increase the risk of various diseases, including cancer.
Sugar addiction leads to insulin resistance and diabetes. Consumption of large quantities of foods high in sugar causes blood sugar levels to spike. The pancreas is then instructed to produce insulin, which helps deliver glucose to the cells. However, when insulin levels remain high, the body can become less sensitive to this hormone, and glucose builds up in the blood.
Added sugar damage teeth. Everyone has been warned about this side effect of a sweet tooth craving since childhood, because sugar feeds harmful bacteria in the mouth, resulting in tooth decay.
Sugar “poisons” the brain. The brain consumes 40% of the carbohydrates of food. It is main fuel for brain. But when the influx becomes too great, certain areas of the brain regress. Australian researchers at the University of Canberra found atrophy in memory-related areas, especially in the hippocampus, in people whose blood sugar levels were high but nevertheless thought to be normal. Hight amount of sugar also disrupts the digestive flora and weakens the intestinal barrier, which increases the body’s chronic inflammation and irritates the nervous system over time. It can lead to Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s disease.
Excess sugar accelerates the aging process. Researchers have found that too much sugar in the blood can accelerate a process called glycation, which in turn causes skin aging. When human eats, the body breaks down carbohydrates into sugars such as glucose and fructose. These are used to provide energy for the body. But when sugars are in excess, they can abnormally interact with proteins and fats. They produce harmful molecules – the end products of glycation. The more of these molecules we have, the faster we age. Glycation end products also play a role in diabetes, chronic kidney disease, atherosclerosis and Alzheimer’s disease development.
As it seen from the article, it is very important to control the sugar consumption. The organism would be thankful for this care.