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Why do you urgently need to return sugar to your diet


Source: Air force

People who eat a lot of sweets are at greater risk of getting 2 type diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and even cancer ... But maybe sugar is not to blame. What do the latest scientific studies say?

Photo: iStock

Now it is difficult to imagine, but there was a time when people had access to sugar for only a few months a year, when fruit ripened, tells Air force... For example, 80 thousand years ago, our distant ancestors, hunters and gatherers, rarely ate fruit - they were seriously rivaled by birds.

Nowadays, access to sugar is unlimited and year-round - just drink a carbonated drink or open a box of cornflakes. You don't have to be a scientist to understand that our current heavy sugar consumption is far less beneficial.

And it seems that today sugar has become the main enemy of public health: governments are trying to impose a tax on it, do not sell sweets in schools and hospitals, and all sorts of experts advise to completely eliminate it from the diet. So far, however, experts have serious difficulties when trying to prove the harmful effects of sugar on our health apart from cases of excessive caloric intake.

A review of similar studies over the past five years has shown that a diet that contains more than 150 grams of fructose per day reduces insulin sensitivity, which means that it increases the risk of health problems, such as an increase in blood pressure or cholesterol levels.

However, as the researchers concluded, this only happens most often when high sugar intake is combined with a diet that is too high in calories, so sugar is more likely to be blamed. Meanwhile, in the scientific community, arguments are louder and louder that the demonization of a single product is dangerous - it confuses people and leads to the risk of excluding vital food from the diet.

Sugar (or, as it is often said, "added sugar" that makes different foods taste sweet) is found in a variety of foods, from the regular sugar we put in tea to sweeteners, honey, and fruit juices.

Both complex and simple carbohydrates are composed of sucrose molecules that are broken down into glucose and fructose in the digestive tract. It is the obtained glucose - the main source of energy for our body, for cells and the brain.

Complex carbohydrates are, for example, vegetables and whole-grain products. Simple (fast) carbohydrates are easier to digest and deliver glucose to the blood faster. They are contained not only in, say, cherries, raspberries or grapes, but also in a variety of human-made products (cakes, sweets, etc.), and it is their consumption that leads to weight gain.

Until the 16th century, only well-off people could afford sugar. But with the beginning of the colonial trade, everything began to change.

In 1960, the development of industrial fructose production led to the creation of caramel molasses, glucose concentrate and fructose. It is this powerful combination that many fighters for a healthy lifestyle consider as the most deadly for a person, and it is meant when they say that sugar is a white death.

Sugar Fever

Between 1970 and 1990 over the years in the United States, the consumption of caramel syrup has increased 10 times - more than any other product group. Scientists emphasize: this reflects an increase in obesity across the country.

A meta-analysis of 88 research has shown that there is a link between the consumption of sugary drinks and an increase in body weight. In other words, by getting extra energy from these drinks, people do not compensate for this by consuming less than other products — perhaps because drinks increase the feeling of hunger and reduce the feeling of fullness.

However, the scientists concluded, such conclusions are a fairly loose statistical relationship. Not everyone agrees that caramel treacle is the decisive factor in the mass gain of weight by Americans.

Some experts point out that in the last 10 years, sugar consumption in many countries (including the United States) has decreased, and the obesity rate of the population has nonetheless increased.

Epidemics of obesity and diabetes also flare up in such regions of the planet where caramel syrup is either used little or not used at all - for example, in Australia or Europe. So this molasses is not the only culprit. Added sugar (especially fructose) is responsible for many problems.

It is claimed that among such problems are cardiovascular diseases. When the liver breaks down fructose, triglycerides, neutral fats that can accumulate in the liver cells, become one of the end products of this. Getting into the blood, they contribute to the formation of cholesterol deposits on the walls of the arteries.

One study that lasted 15 for years seems to confirm this: it has been found that people who consume 25% or more of their daily calories in the form of added sugar have more than twice the risk of dying from heart disease than those who consume less 10 %

The incidence of diabetes type 2-th is also associated with the consumption of foods with added sugar. Two large studies in 1990-x found that women who drank more than one serving of sugary drinks or fruit juice a day were more likely to double their diabetes than those who drank such drinks rarely.

Anything sweet?

But again: it is unclear whether this means that it is sugar that causes diabetes or cardiovascular disease.

Luc Tuppy, professor of physiology at the University of Lausanne, is one of those scientists who are convinced that the main cause of diabetes, obesity and high blood pressure is excessive calorie intake, and sugar is only one of its components.

“Consuming more energy than the body requires in the long term leads to fat storage, insulin resistance and fatty liver, whatever the diet is,” he says. “For those people who use a lot of energy, even a diet high in sugar / fructose does not affect health.”

Tuppy cites the example of professional athletes who often consume a lot of sugar, but rarely have a bad heart. Their high level of fructose is simply transformed into the energy they need in the process of training and competition.

In general, there is very little evidence that added sugar is directly responsible for 2 type diabetes, heart disease, obesity, and cancer. Yes, a large use of it, as a rule, is present in such patients. But clinical studies have not yet established exactly what exactly caused these diseases.

Is there sugar addiction? An overview of research on this topic, published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine in 2017, gives an example: mice suffer when they are deprived of sugar, and the effect is similar to that experienced by addicts who are deprived of cocaine.

However, that study was widely criticized for misinterpreting the results. One of the main criticisms: animals were given sugar for only two hours a day. If they are allowed to eat it when they want (that is, exactly as we ourselves do), then the mouse does not demonstrate any sugar dependence.

However, studies have shown that there are other ways that sugar affects our brains. Matthew Paz, a scientist at the Swinburn Center for Psychopharmacology, tested the link between sugary drinks consumption and brain health markers on MRI. Those who drank such drinks and fruit juices more often showed a decrease in memory function and a smaller brain size.

Consuming two sugary drinks a day, the brain looked two years older than those who did not consume them at all. However, according to Landscape, he measured only the consumption of fruit drinks, so he is not sure that sugar itself affects brain health in this way.

“Those people who drink more fruit juices or sugary drinks may have other unhealthy food components or bad habits in their diet. For example, they may never exercise their body, ”Peise emphasizes.

A recent study found that sugar can even help improve the memory and condition of aging adults. Scientists gave participants of the experiment a drink containing a small amount of glucose, and asked to perform various tasks for memory. Other participants were given a drink with an artificial sweetener.

The results showed that sugar intake improves the motivation of older people when performing complex tasks, and they do not feel the particular complexity of the test. Increasing blood sugar levels increases their satisfaction with what they do.

Younger adults also showed an increase in energy after drinking a drink with glucose, but this did not affect their memory and mood.

Sweet mortal sin

Although modern guidelines from doctors state that added sugar should not be more than 5% of our daily calorie intake, nutritionist Renee McGregor says: it is important to understand that a healthy, balanced diet is different for everyone.

“I work with athletes who need more sugar during strenuous workouts because it's easy to digest,” she says.

For other people, it’s fair that added sugar is not needed as part of our diet. But a number of experts warns: do not talk about it as a poison.

MacGregor, among whose patients there are those who suffer from nervous orthorexia (an unhealthy obsession with healthy eating), says that it is wrong to divide food into good and bad. Placing sugar in the category of taboos can make it even more attractive.

“Once you are told that you should not eat something, you will want to eat it,” she emphasizes. - Therefore, I never say that any product should in no case be eaten. I just point out that this product has no nutritional value. But sometimes the products have different values. ”

University Professor James Madison Alan Levinovits studies the relationship of religion and science. He says that there is a simple reason why we consider sugar to be evil: throughout all of history, humankind has been accustomed to blaming all sins for things that are very difficult to refuse (for example, sexual pleasures).

Today we do it with sugar to somehow curb our appetite.

“The sweet taste is very pleasant, so we have to view the consumption of sugar as a mortal sin. When we perceive the world in black and white, in terms of "either good or bad", it is impossible to come to terms with the fact that there are moderately harmful things. This is what happened with sugar, ”says Levinowitz.

According to him, if you approach food with such extreme standards and look for some morality in the simple process of feeding, you can fall into deep and constant concern about everything that we eat. The process of deciding what to eat can simply become difficult.

Just remove sugar from the diet can be counterproductive: after all, this means that it will have to be replaced with something - perhaps with something even more high-calorie. Carried away by arguments about the dangers of sugar, we risk putting in one basket food with added sugar (for example, sugary drinks) and completely healthy foods that contain sugar (for example, fruit).

That is how it turned out at Tina Grundin, 28-year-old Swede, who, she admits, believed that any sugar was harmful. In this regard, she followed a high-protein, high-fat vegan diet that, she said, led to undetected eating disorder.

“When I started to vomit after eating, I realized that I couldn't do this anymore. I grew up wary of sugar in all its forms, she admits. “But then I realized that there is a huge difference between added sugar and carbohydrates. And I switched to a diet rich in fructose and starch with natural sugars found in fruits, vegetables, legumes and grains. ”

“And from the very first day, it was as if some kind of veil fell from my eyes. Finally, I began to provide my cells with the energy contained in glucose. "

Scientists are still arguing about how different types of sugar affect our health. But the irony of the situation is that we will be better off if we think less about it.

“We're over complicating nutrition because everyone strives for excellence, everyone wants to appear perfect and successful. But it doesn't work that way, ”says McGregor.

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