Sugar - Passion or Poison??? Part 1


Do you watch The Great British Bake Off? Not sure if it’s available in the USA but I hope so because otherwise you are missing out on a great show. I watch it. I love it; I love watching the process (and the pain) of creating, under the pressure of time constraints, all those wonderful looking cakes, biscuits, bread, puddings. I cannot imagine how much sugar is used during the whole series. It must be heading for 1000’s of kilos. I sometimes wonder what happens to all those baked goodies once the show is over. Do Mary Berry, Paul Hollywood, MEL and Sue eat it all? Do the bakers take their own creations home? Do the crew get stuck in? Who knows?

Whoever ends up eating it all must have a magnificent feast but how do they feel afterwards? Satisfied? Stuffed? Or sick? Baked, sugary goodies look soooo nice in a shop window, so tempting, so hard to resist. We can see by the current obesity crisis that a lot of people have great difficulty saying no. Or maybe they don’t even think about saying no, they just see it, want it, buy it and eat it. Job done with no questions asked!!

Sugar is indeed a passion in the industrialised world. Every society that takes on a the life style of the West ends up eating more sugar, with the resulting increase in obesity and tooth decay. So I think we can say that sugar is both passion and, unfortunately, poison.

Our bodies are not designed to consume so much sugar. Although we live in a modern world, our bodies still react in much the same way they did when our ancestors were hunters and gatherers. The only access they had to sugar was honey, which had to be obtained at the risk of the pain of many bee stings. The fruits they had access to were less sweet than our fruits of today, many of which have been hybridised to increase the sugar content.

So from a genetic point of view our bodies do not expect to cope with large injections of pure sugar in the form of sweets, drinks, cakes, etc. And when we do consume a shot of sugar, it goes almost straight into our blood stream. The balance of sugar in the blood has to be kept within very narrow limits so when the sugar rises suddenly, the pancreas produces insulin to remove the sugar from the blood and store it as energy (in the form of glycogen) in the liver. Once the liver has all the glycogen it can manage, the rest is converted into fat and stored in our fat cells. Making the pancreas keep on producing so much insulin, eventually causes it to become exhausted and that’s when we run into Type 2 diabetes.

Apart from diabetes, high sugar consumption can also lead to heart disease, obesity and premature aging. See Part 2 of this article for more information on how this happens.

So, however much you may love the sweet stuff, it doesn’t love you. Of course, a dessert now and then, an ice cream on a hot day or a few squares of chocolate is not going to be a problem. It is the habit of consuming sugar every day that causes the health issues. Sugar in your tea and coffee, fizzy soda drinks, biscuits and sweets on a regular basis – these will all gradually add up to compromising your health.Save

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