Should I avoid all forms of sugar? This is a frequently asked question from many of my patients that are in treatment for obesity or eating disorders, such as anorexia, bulimia, bulimarexia, and binge eating disorder (BED). As with all things polluted, sugar has developed a bad reputation. In its natural form, it is one of the most important sources of energy that we have on the planet. It is the only carbohydrate that circulates in the blood stream and it serves as the primary energy source for the brain. In the plant world, it is formed through photosynthesis, and is vital to the propagation of each plant species, as its job is to nurture the plant’s seed. Sugar is found naturally in many foods, such as fruits and vegetables, and even in milk. These sources of sugar are not a problem. It is the added sugar in all of its polluted forms, which is contributing to so many of our health problems today. It is also the amount of added sugar in the U.S. diet that is literally killing us. This is the third installment of my three-part series about sugar, the good, the bad, and the ugly!
When naturally derived glucose is consumed, a set of reactions occurs in the body, which allows it to be used as energy. When fructose is consumed, however, it apparently behaves more like fat with respect to the hormones involved in body weight regulation. Most of the carbohydrates we eat are made up of chains of glucose. When glucose enters the bloodstream, the body releases insulin to help regulate it. Fructose, on the other hand, is processed in the liver. If the liver cannot handle all of the fructose coming its way, it starts making fats from the fructose and sending them off into the bloodstream as triglycerides. This leads to all manner of problems, including increased:
- Risk of abnormal blood clotting ailments and hypertension (high blood pressure)
- Risk of type 2 diabetes
- Total blood cholesterol levels (it serves in part as the raw material for the synthesis of cholesterol within the body)
- LDL -“bad” cholesterol levels, and
- Blood triglyceride levels, especially in diabetics (fructose has a greater propensity to increase serum triglycerides than glucose).
The CDC defines added sugar as “all sugars used as ingredients in processed and prepared foods such as breads, cakes, soft drinks, jams, chocolates, ice cream, and sugars eaten separately or added to foods at the table”. Examples of added sugars include white sugar, brown sugar, raw sugar, corn syrup, corn syrup solids, high fructose corn syrup, malt syrup, maple syrup, pancake syrup, fructose sweetener, liquid fructose, honey, molasses, anhydrous dextrose, crystal dextrose, and dextrin.
Dr. J. Renae Norton is a clinical psychologist, specializing in the outpatient treatment of obesity and eating disorders such as anorexia, bulimia, bulimarexia, and binge eating disorder (BED) and the Director of The Norton Center for Eating Disorders and Obesity in Cincinnati, Ohio. She is the Director of The Norton Center for Eating Disorders and Obesity in Cincinnati, Ohio.
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