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Sugar: One of the Problems with Today’s Diet

SugarAbout 3 months ago, I was sent a YouTube video entitled, Sugar: The Bitter Truth.  As I am always intrigued by documentaries, I decided to watch a bit of this 90 minute production.  By about 10 minutes in I was hooked and watched the entire documentary, and forwarded it to my peers and colleges.

Why is it so good?  It explains the major problem in today’s food industry – the enormous amount of added processed sugar.  By sugar, I am referring to fructose, which is commonly referred to as high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) on ingredient lists.

I will not attempt to sum up 90 minutes of this video for you.  However, I wish to outline the major points illustrated in the documentary regarding why obesity rates are high and what you can do to your diet to lose the excess weight.

The Low Fat Food

One of the crazes of today’s society is the abundance of low fat alternatives on our shelves.  We are constantly being smothered in advertisements by the food industry of their low fat products.  We are led to believe that these products are better for us when in fact they may be doing more harm.  When food companies remove the fat from products, they need to replace it with something, and this is normally with refined sugars (such as HFCS).

It goes without stating, on average people are eating more calories today than in the past.  Moreover, our total intake of fat has decreased – yet – our obesity rate constantly increases. Why? We are consuming more calories from carbohydrates, primarily refined carbohydrates.

The Coke Conspiracy

So where are we getting these extra carbohydrates?  Over the years, we have seen an increase in soft drink and fruit drink consumption which are composed primarily of sugar.  The lecturer goes on to explain what he calls the Coke Conspiracy, the secret behind why Coke is so addictive.  To paraphrase, Coke is composed of caffeine, salt, and sugar and each of these ingredients perform one job.  Caffiene is the diuretic and sodium makes you dehydrated so that you wish to drink more fluid.  Why is there so much sugar? The sugar is to mask the taste of salt.  Rinse. Lather. Repeat.

Fructose

Why is fructose bad?  Firstly, everything that is ingested, digested, and absorbed by the intestines passes through the liver.  During the breakdown of fructose in the liver, there is an increase in VLDL formation (bad cholesterol).  Furthermore, it has been shown that six days of a high fructose diet can significantly increase de novo lipogenesis (creation of fat molecules from another source – in this case fructose).  Therefore without eating fats, we have increased our cholesterol.

Chronic Fructose Abuse

What scared me most was when he compared chronic alcohol use to chronic fructose ingestion.  To my surprise, they shared multiple commonalities.  Chronic fructose and alcohol use have been associated with hypertension, myocardial infarction, dyslipidemia, pancreatitis, obesity, hepatic dysfunction, and fetal insulin resistance.

How Does this Affect Weight Loss?

One of the associated health risks with fructose abuse is obesity.  By reducing ones intake of fructose, you can reduce ones susceptibility of health complications.  Additionally, one shouldn’t directly assume that low in fat will be good for you, when in fact it can lead to increased fat within the body.  We should always try to maintain a health macronutrient ratio (such as 50% carbohydrates, 30% fats, 20% proteins) and simply reduce the total amount of calories.  By maintaining adequate calorie intake, a proper macronutrient ratio, and ingesting normal levels of micronutrients (vitamins and minerals), one can target one of the major modifiable predisposing risk factors for obesity – diet.

 

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