A spoonful of sugar might make the medicine go down. But it also makes blood pressure and cholesterol go up, increasing your risk for weight gain, liver failure, heart disease and diabetes.
We already know that vices such as alcohol and tobacco are heavily taxed. Recently there’s been discussion to add sugar to this list. This week, researchers at the University of California, San Francisco, have published an article calling for regulation in the added sugar in our foods, which includes suggestions for taxation and proposed age limits on buying.
Their research includes increasing evidence that obesity is on the rise across the globe. While this has been a problem in developed countries for quite some time, it only recently that research has been done on how globalisation has altered the diet of developing nations as well. Though, not entirely understood, it is not coincidental that obesity has risen at the same time that sugar intake has tripled over the last 50 years in developed countries.
Though weight gain is often associated with a sugary diet, it can also lead to long-term damage to the liver. Sugar is often known as empty calories, but there is nothing empty in the toxic threat of liver disease and diabetes.
In its natural form, sugar in the form of fruit is only available for a few months a year during the ripening season and honey has always been closely guarded by bees. Today, however, sugar is added to a wide variety of foods, ranging from soda to soup. The researchers at UCSF note “nature made sugar hard to get; man made it easy.”
There are several different types of sugar. Many found naturally, for example in fruit, are easily processed by cells throughout the body. Added sugar however, especially fructose, goes straight to the liver to be broken down. This put extra pressure on the liver to work, which over time takes its toll on the organ, leading the liver disease. If there it too much sugar for the liver to process, than the excess will be released into the body and become fat.
Fructose has become a popular sweetener as it has a very long shelf life, it is easier to refine and the production is very cheap. However, it can also suppress the hormones that regulate your appetite and decide when you are hungry. Too much can make controlling your weight very difficult and can lead to weight gain.
There are some small measures that can be done to help with weight loss. It is important to identify the foods that do carry high amounts of additives. Fructose is often added to processed foods to increase the shelf life, so try to avoid these products. Cooking meals from scratch is a great way to know what is going into your food and into you. Unfortunately, there is no requirement (as of yet) to label fructose as anything other than sugar so it is hard to find the foods that do contain it thought these are often foods like soft drinks, ready meals, concentrated fruit juices and sweeteners.
Maybe it’s time for you to give your body an audit, and really think about the additives that are part of your diet. Cutting down on additives and sugar intake may be the first step towards your goal to weight loss and a healthier lifestyle.