The harmful effects of sugar go way beyond empty calories.
Added sugar is so unhealthy that it is probably the single worst ingredient in the modern diet.
Here are the top 9 reasons to avoid sugar as if your life depended on it (it does).
The reason added sugar (and its evil twin… High Fructose Corn Syrup) is bad for you, is that it supplies a very large amount of fructose.
Sugar (and HFCS) are half glucose, half fructose. Glucose is essential and can be metabolized by pretty much every cell in the body. If we don’t get it from the diet, our bodies make it from proteins and fat.
Fructose, however, is not essential to our functioning in any way.
The only organ that can metabolize fructose is the liver, because only the liver has a transporter for it (1).
When large amounts of fructose enter the liver and it is already full of glycogen, most of the fructose gets turned into fat (2).
This process is probably one of the leading causes of the epidemics of many chronic, Western diseases.
I’d like to point out that this does NOT apply to fruit, which are a real food with vitamins, minerals, fiber, lots of water and are very difficult to overeat on.
Bottom Line: The only organ that can metabolize fructose is the liver. When we eat a lot of fructose, many things in the body start to go wrong.
Sugar IS empty calories. No doubt about that.
Most high-sugar foods like pastries, sodas and candy bars contain very little essential nutrients.
People who eat them instead of other more nutritious foods will probably become deficient in many important nutrients.
Bottom Line: Most products with added sugars in them contain very little nutrients and can therefore be classified as “empty” calories.
When we eat fructose, it goes to the liver.
However, most people aren’t consuming fructose after a long workout and their livers are already full of glycogen.
When this happens, the liver turns the fructose into fat (2).
Bottom Line: Eating a lot of added sugar (fructose) can cause deposition of fat in the liver and lead to Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease.
Most of the fat generated in the liver gets shipped out as Very Low Density Lipoprotein (VLDL) particles.
These particles are rich in triglycerides and cholesterol.
In a controlled study, people were assigned to drink 25% of calories as either a glucose-sweetened drink or a fructose-sweetened drink for 10 weeks (7).
The fructose group had:
Increases in blood triglycerides.
Increases in small, dense LDL and oxidized LDL (very, very bad).
Higher fasting glucose and insulin.
Decreased insulin sensitivity.
Increased fat in the abdominal cavity (visceral fat).
Basically, 25% of calories as fructose significantly harmed blood lipids and caused features characteristic of the metabolic syndrome, which is a stepping stone towards obesity, heart disease, diabetes and a (short) lifetime of poor health.
Bottom Line: Consuming a large part of calories as fructose can lead to serious adverse effects on blood markers in as little as 10 weeks.single page
Five amazing, clean technologies that will set us free, in this month's energy-focused issue. Also: how to build a better bomb detector, the robotic toys that are raising your children, a human catapult, the world's smallest arcade, and much more.