What does the latest research show about what sugar does to the body?
Excess sugar, especially in the form of high fructose corn syrup, may be contributing to worsening health in many people. Consuming excess sugar leads to a condition called insulin resistance, which is a precursor to type 2 diabetes, a fatty liver, and cardiovascular disease.
Insulin is responsible for the body’s absorption of glucose — or sugar — for energy. Those with insulin resistance experience a buildup of glucose in the blood. Soon the body does not respond to insulin as well, and the sugar level in the blood stays higher, which leads to diabetes. Over time, diabetes can lead to nerve damage, vision loss, clogged veins and arteries — perhaps leading to amputations — and kidney failure.
What other conditions has consuming excess sugar been linked to?
Excess sugar consumption has been associated with cirrhosis, neuropathy, kidney disease, general inflammation, and cancer. In fact, there are several cancer links, such as breast, colon, and endometrial, that are associated with obesity, which might indirectly feed off of sugar in the diet; some tumor cells can use sugar and insulin as fuel to grow.
How does your body process the sugar in a soda or candy bar? And how is that different than how it processes the sugar in fruit?
Both fructose, which occurs naturally in fruit, and high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), a sweetener used in soda and candy, are called disaccharides and are broken down into monosaccharides, a more usable form of sugar by the body. The amount of fructose from HFCS allows a large amount of sugar to get into the body very quickly as opposed to consuming fructose from fruits, where consumption is limited by fibers and other chemicals that would make a person full before they could get the same fructose load from soda. For example, it would take nine cups of strawberries to equal the same dose of fructose in a 20-ounce soda. Think about that for a minute – most people would likely not be able to consume anything near that number of strawberries to get the same fructose load as a bottle of soda.
All sugars are eventually broken down to the same compound, but HFCS is considered the worst because it bypasses some regulating steps inherent in the body, leading to insulin resistance, fat production, and a fatty liver.