If only one culprit has to be convicted in junk food, it would be Sugar first!
In the 90s, both the United States and Europe began a great war on fats to cure populations of cardiovascular disease and growing obesity. Yet, in the 21st century, there have never been so many obese people in developed countries and South America.
Indeed, our consumption of glucose, fructose and sweeteners has only increased over the last few decades. And even in the face of the miracle solutions of “false sugar” or “0 calorie”, our people are still tending towards obesity. How does sugar act to promote cardiovascular disease? What is the relationship between sugar and stored fat?
Let’s understand together why sugar is bad for us and how to use and ingest it to preserve our health!
What is sugar ?
Sugar is an essential resource for our functioning: it is an energy. We use it, through our organs and muscles to move, think and simply live. It is an energy resource, just like fat, which means that it provides calories. Calories are the unit of measurement of food energy needed by human beings. Therefore, we all have an average limit of calories to ingest per day in order to provide our bodies with the essential energy they need to function properly.
Our fat reserves, too, are full of calories that are waiting to be used, during physical exercise or intellectual work. These reserves are natural and must exist in order to be able to continue to carry out the essential activities of a human being. Our body therefore has two sources of energy at its disposal: sugar and fat.
If one can compare sugar and body fat to a person’s bank accounts, sugar would be the current account and fat would be the savings accounts. The calories would be the dollars: The energy in the current account (sugar) is used primarily and spontaneously, while the energy in the savings accounts (fat) is present only when there is an energy deficit or deficiency. It is indeed a reserve full of dollars (calories) ready to be spent on actions.
But unlike money, extra calories are harmful. The accumulation of fat promotes many fatal diseases and the degradation of our body over time.
Calories: the false good solution
In 1990, low-fat diets were spearheaded by American nutritionists. This was based on logical assumptions: there are more calories in 1g of fat than in 1g of sugar. It seems obvious that it is necessary to drive out fat first in order to rebalance our caloric balance and avoid gaining weight! For yes, calories have been the preferred and only indicator of a good or bad diet. It was a real boom in drinks and 0% and calorie-free foods. Nevertheless, no noticeable improvement in obesity was perceived among consumers of “zero-calorie” sweetened beverages.
David Ludwig, now a professor of nutrition at the prestigious Harvard School of Medicine, had just completed his medical studies. Over the decades, he has made a clear and thoughtful statement: “Not all calories are created equal. And those from sugar do considerable damage to health when taken in excess.
Let’s take a closer look:
Fat burning blocker
All foods rich in sugars (sub-family of carbohydrates) cause a very rapid spike in blood sugar levels. The latter, in turn, causes a strong peak in Insulin secretion. Insulin allows the body to lower blood sugar levels by bringing glucose (a type of sugar) from the blood back into the cells. Great, you might say! But it is not free …
Insulin, during its work of capturing glucose, indirectly promotes the accumulation of fat by preventing the body from using it to create energy. As a result, the body is on orange alert: “Use the sugar in the blood first to prevent a disaster,” it would tell the muscles and organs. In addition, blood sugar cells gradually develop resistance to insulin, which will eventually become useless against glucose.
Why aren’t sweeteners a solution?
Unfortunately, artificial sweeteners look so much like sugar, that our body triggers the same mechanisms! While they are a solution to our addiction to sweetness (we’ll see this point later), they can’t protect us from the glycemic system orchestrated by our body to rid the blood of glucose.
“I think the recent (and independent) data on artificial sweeteners are relatively clear. Synthetic sweeteners stimulate the appetite and disrupt the intestinal microbiota. »Michel Desmurget, neurobiologist and Inserm research director, author of L’Antirégime, maigrir pour de bon (The Anti-diet, lose weight for good)
“Synthetic sweeteners stimulate the appetite and disrupt the intestinal microbiota”.David Ludwig, Harvard Professor of Nutrition
And if you thought that fructose is better than sucrose or other artificial sugars: Think again! Although fructose is the sugar most present in fruits, outside of these foods, it disrupts our hormonal and lipid system at a greater rate. The fructose molecule, which has been stripped of dietary fiber in particular, reacts differently from glucose in the body.
Studies tracing the journey of fructose through our digestive system note that “almost all of an oral load of fructose is metabolized at the splanchnic level (mainly liver, but also intestine), and about 50% recirculates secondarily as glucose”, i.e. half of the ingested fructose is not digested and therefore passes into the bloodstream. This leads to the insulin process seen earlier, and thus to the creation of fat! “The remaining 10% is oxidized in the splanchnic tissues or participates in a hepatic lipogenesis” which is the process of creation and synthesis of fat in mammals.
« In humans, several studies, each involving small numbers of individuals, have evaluated the effects of a fructose supplement […] with very high fructose intakes (corresponding to the fructose content of several liters of soda per day). These studies clearly indicated that excess dietary intake of fructose in the form of fructose could lead to …, hepatic resistance to insulin and glucose intolerance. There is also deposition of “ectopic” triglycerides […] in the liver and muscles. »Christel Tran, Luc Tappy, Swiss Medical Journal 2012; volume 8. 513-518
Creator of dependency and hunger
Hard to do without sweet foods? It’s normal! Sugar is as addictive as alcohol and even cocaine and methamphetamine!
Since the 200’s, out of 100 grams of carbohydrates consumed by an individual, only 30 grams come from natural foods! The rest comes from added sugars, especially in industrial products (sweet or savoury ready meals, fast food, energy drinks, soft drinks, dairy products, desserts …). A problem all the more important as our physical activity is in no way comparable to that of our ancestors!
« A mammal that reduces its activity normally reduces its diet, [But] with flavor enhancers (sweet, salty, glutamate …), manufacturers seek to make people eat more and more! » Laurent Chevallier, medical nutritionist
In fact, insulin levels in Americans have tripled in the last few decades. And the consequences of such a high level develops insulin resistance, as seen earlier, one of the effects of which is a feeling of permanent hunger. How can we not eat too much and gain weight when we feel hungry all the time? Much more than micro-nutritional “poverty”, food no longer feeds us because it is no longer usable by our bodies. So, it asks for more and more, without ever being satisfied by the sweet and processed foods we bring it.
On the other hand, glucose would quickly reach the brain after ingestion and activate specific hypothalamus receptors related to addiction while disrupting at least two hormones: leptin, which induces satiety, and ghrelin, which triggers hunger. This is how sugar then alters the brain’s ability to manage, via appetite, energy absorption, to satisfy itself and thus forms an addiction. This is why we prefer complete or complex sugars that take much longer to spread in the blood (limits insulin production) and in the brain (limits addiction).
« We recommend the more or less complex sugars so that they can gradually distil their simple sugars to the body throughout the day. Complex carbohydrates are the guardians of our satiety. »Béatrice de Reynal, medical nutritionist, specialized in innovation
In this way, our organism is not able to metabolize in an optimal way all this sugar and in its liquid form, the one proposed in the products of the food industry. In addition, there are no foods that are both fatty and sweet in nature. However, this combination creates a powerful taste stimulus! Thus, sugar coupled with fat amplifies the signal to activate the reward circuit in our brain. Thus, addiction.
In addition, this dependence also influences our ability to perceive taste in food. I mean, real natural tastes! Along with salt and fat, sugar is a true taste inhibitor that enhances and eventually masks it. Our taste buds are so accustomed to the overpowering taste that we can’t get enough of that tasty salt, fat or sugar!
« The sweet taste that this molecule confers on food is linked to the activation of taste receptors that are activated not only by sucrose but also by fructose and glucose, two simple hexoses found in small quantities in fruit and honey, or by so-called sweetening substances. »Christel Tran, Luc Tappy, Swiss Medical Journal 2012; volume 8. 513-518
How to consume sugar?
Of course, we risk falling into a total rejection of sugars after reading this article (and many others)! We must therefore not fall into a psychosis and the vicious ease of wanting to banish carbohydrates from our diet at all costs.
The European Food Safety Agency states that added sugars are not harmful when their intake represents less than 25% of total energy ingested (i.e. 500 kcal/day, or about 125 g of sugars, including 62 g of fructose for an average individual consuming 2000 kcal/day). Contradictorily, the recommendations recently issued by the American Heart Association ask to limit the intake of added sugars to less than 150 kcal/day (about 35 g/day) for men and 100 kcal/day (about 25 g/day) for women! This depends, of course, on the level of sedentarism and physical activity practiced by individuals. The more this sugary energy is spent, the more we preserve our organism from its misdeeds.
« Fashionable diets often make people fear carbohydrates. But research continues to show that healthy carbohydrates – from fruits, vegetables, beans and whole grains – are the healthiest fuel for our bodies. » Hana Kahleova, M.D., Ph.D., directrice de la recherche clinique du Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine.
In addition, sugar should not be eaten alone, but accompanied by fiber (from fruits, seeds or vegetables) mostly contained in the skin.
And above all, the less sweet we eat, the less we will feel the false need to eat it.
Thus, we will take a “food-independence” in the face of this industrial poison.
And this requires the purchase of raw and whole products and their homemade preparation!
Cooking is fun, economical and healthy.
So when do we start?