Ordinary sugar consists of glucose and fructose. Unlike glucose, which can be used by every cell in our body, fructose, however, can be metabolized in the liver alone, says Dr Praveen CR, senior consultant, general GI and laparoscopic surgeon, Manipal Hospital, Varthur Road Branch, Bengaluru Share. He explains that this excess fructose is converted into fat and causes fatty liver disease. This results in hypertriglyceridemia, which can be diagnosed with a lipid profile blood test.
“Fiber-rich foods (vegetables/fruits/whole grains) cause substantial distension of the stomach and intestines. The satiety center in the brain is stimulated and signals to the body that enough has been eaten. On the other hand, highly processed foods with a combination of sugar, salt and fat lead to excessive craving for food as it lacks the benefits of fibre-rich food,” shares Dr Praveen.
He explains that when someone consumes excess sugar, there is a selective increase in the number of sugar-loving bacteria. This leads to dysbiosis and an increase in harmful bacteria that prefer to feed on sugars. This in turn leads to the ingestion of processed foods instead of healthy whole foods.
Excess sugar consumption sends false signals to the body to store it as fat. “During evolution, more food meant later periods of starvation. Because of food shortages in winter, our ancestors ate a lot more food during spring. However, in times of famine, stored fat was used for energy. However, in the current scenario of round-the-clock availability of food, it leads to insulin resistance due to regular glucose spikes. This insulin resistance leads to diabetes and obesity,” explains Dr Praveen.
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The normal gut has a protective inner layer due to the anti-inflammatory properties of beneficial bacteria. The doctor says that excessive consumption of sugar leads to an abundance of proteobacteria (harmful bacteria) in the intestine. “Antibacterial, beneficial bacteria, decrease in number. The effects of endotoxins can no longer be neutralized and gut barrier function is weakened. Endotoxins are lipopolysaccharides found in the cell wall of gram-negative bacteria that cause inflammation Sugar shifts the microbiome balance away from bacteria that support immunity in favor of harmful bacteria. Loss of these immune cells leads to cardiometabolic disease and diabetes,” says Dr. Praveen.
List of foods with added sugar that you should avoid
Dr Praveen CR lists the following food items that you should avoid:
1. Refined Sugar: Avoid excessive use in tea/coffee/fruit juices/regular cooking at home.
2. Bakery Foods: Breads, biscuits, cakes, candies, chocolates etc (may also contain refined sugar, trans-fats and salt)
3. Most packaged foods (factory-produced foods) and snacks: Sugar is hidden in many. Sugar is added to many foods like tomato sauce/ketchup and snacks. Read ingredient labels carefully.
4. Carbonated Drinks: Soda, soft drinks and sugary sodas.
how much sugar should you consume daily
According to the American Heart Association (AHA), the maximum amount of added sugar you should consume in a day is:
● Men: 150 calories per day (37.5 grams or 9 teaspoons)
● Women: 100 calories per day (25 grams or 6 teaspoons)
Note, this includes sugar in all forms, whether it’s added sugar or sugar in food.