The Science Around Sugar
We consume a massive amount of sugar. That is more than 22 teaspoons a day on average, around 15 -20% of our total calorie input.
Almost all the sugar we consume is sucrose. In Australia this mostly comes from sugar cane. Some of the sucrose we consume comes from fruit and fruit juice. And some comes from high fructose corn syrup imported from the US.
Sucrose is a double sugar which our body splits into two single sugars. One of these is glucose and that is fine. It is our basic fuel. In every cell of our bodies it is burned to produce energy. If we are taking in a lot of glucose we release a lot of insulin and that makes us feel full and we stop eating.
The other half of sucrose is fructose and that is the problem because we convert most of it to fat.
Fructose, except in a few minor ways, can only be metabolized by the liver. We cannot use it for fuel so we convert it to fat. That fat is stored all over our bodies including our waistlines to make us fat and unhealthy now, and in the walls of our blood vessels to make us chronically sick later. Fructose appears to have no feedback hormone to tell us we have had enough so we are more likely to go on eating (and drinking).
Over the past few million years as we evolved there was very little sugar available and hence not much fructose. Consider the diets of the few remaining hunter gatherer groups in the world today. Where is the sugar? What little they get tends to be seasonal fruits and occasional honey – not much.
Hence we have not evolved to cope with large amounts of it. It is only over the past two hundred years that we have been able to produce and consume a lot of sugar. That is much too short a time span for us to adapt to sugar.
Scientists, doctors and health authorities have become more concerned about the adverse effects of fructose particularly over the past decade. In large numbers of animal and human studies, detrimental effects of high fructose diets have been observed. In September 2009 the American Heart Association released a Sugar Statement recommending we radically reduce our sugar intake to below 6 teaspoons per day for women and 9 teaspoons per day for men. This 8 page document is worth reading. It documents our current consumption, discusses what we know about fructose and gives clear directions on modifying our diets to reduce obesity and chronic ill health.
This website recommends you follow the AHA sugar guidelines and judge for yourself the effects. The experience of this author is that a many overweight individuals have lost weight quickly, by adhering to these guidelines. Weight loss continues thereafter towards the healthy range. See for yourself.
At the end of this are links to scientific, medical and government health authority articles discussing the problems of excessive sugar intake.
How Bad is Fructose
AHA Sugar Statement
Taxing Soft Drink Sugar Intake and Blood Lipids Fructose and Fatty Liver Disease