On the outside sugar seems pretty harmless, but on the inside, it’s killing us.
Do you really know what happens to your body when you eat your favorite sugary dessert? Most people could care less, it tastes good and makes me happy who cares! I’m not here to argue that you should never indulge in the delicious desserts we all love. But rather to explain the biological process your body goes through. In hopes that if we start to really understand how the food we eat effects our body, we may pass on a few sweets because you now understand physiologically how hurtful they can be. Like most problems when boiled down the real main cause is more often than not, simply a lack of education.
Picture this, you just finished eating a healthy balanced dinner of freshly roasted vegetables, medium rare steak and wild rice. Your feeling good about yourself. Your body is thanking you for the nutrients. Proud that you just ate a healthy meal you say to yourself. I’ve earned dessert! So you you finish your meal and order a brownie with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. It’s a small portion so no worries, only 250 calories. I’ll burn that off. Plus you just ate a healthy meal so no harm no foul. You eat it with a smile. All the while internally you’ve just set off a bomb of disruption for your metabolic processing and body’s health. While this may sound dramatic, it is somewhat true. As with anything in life, moderation and balance is key. Few times in smaller not so extravagant portions, not so bad. But a few times a week compounded over several years, now we’ve got a problem. I know what your thinking, we get it sugar is bad when you eat to much sugar we get fat. It’s simple. Well it’s a little more complex when you really look at it. So lets take a quick deep dive into what’s going on behind the scenes.
Your body is meant to be metabolically flexible, being able to derive energy from the fats and proteins in your meal not just carbs. But when you finish your meal off with a desert your interrupting the proper metabolic process your body needs to burn and store energy in the most efficient way. Your inducing a massive spike your blood sugar levels. Which sets of this entire reaction process.
First the sugar is broken down into glucose by the enzymes in your small intestines and sent directly into the bloodstream. In return causing your pancreas to secrete large amount of insulin to go in and remove the glucose from your blood steam to keep levels at homeostasis. Your liver is working to metabolize the simple carbohydrates by taking the excess glucose out of the blood stream and storing it for later use in the form of glycogen. Converting dietary carbohydrates to fats. But once these glycogen storages are full the excess is then turned into fatty acids. That’s when you get start to run into real problems and get fat deposits in the liver. This process of glycogen storage essentially locks in those fat cells for later use so you can’t immediately burn them off. Your brain is sent a rush of dopamine and serotonin two hormones that boost your mood for the short term. Stimulating the nucleus accumben or the part of the brain associated with reward. Using the same pathways to the brain as additive drugs like cocaine. This stimulant doesn’t last long and as your glucose levels suddenly drop so to does your energy levels also known as hypoglycemia, or a sugar crash. Leaving you hungry again and craving more refined processed sugars to curb your brains new desire for that quick dopamine hit. The empty calories lack any nutrients to sustain your energy which will cause sluggishness. When your blood gets saturated with too much sugar it causes inflammation and stress on every organ and joint in your body. The collagen and elastin fibers in the skin are negatively effected. Breaking down your cells, effectively aging your body on a cellular level. As this cycle repeats, your body's regular metabolic functions begin to deteriorate. As too much extra sugar accumulates to fat worst case scenario can lead to insulin resistance i.e. diabetes, obesity, and heart disease. The leading cause of death in America.
It’s sad that in todays common thought we push reactionary health measures rather than preventative ones. Just look at how big the pharmaceutical industry is and how little people know about health. The correlating effect between sugar, obesity, and heart disease should be enough to raise a red flag of the importance of this issue. And I think educating is the best way help. Sugar is everywhere and harder to avoid than you may think. While best practice is to avoid it as much as possible, you shouldn’t be so stringent as to not live a little and enjoy life here and there. So when you do on occasion indulge and some sugar and extra fat is stored we can also understand how to burn those fat cells away.
Fat cells primarily exist to store energy. This energy is in the form of fatty acid molecules. When we have a caloric surplus (consuming more calories than we burn on a daily basis) we gain fat storage. When we have a caloric deficit (consuming fewer calories than we burn on a daily basis) we burn fat. Our body both burns fat cells by depleting their stores of fatty acids and also ceases to create new ones. Surprisingly enough we primarily breathe the fat away! 84% of fat is exhaled as carbon dioxide. The other 16% of fat is excreted as water via bodily fluids like sweat and urine. But simply breathing will not guarantee fat loss. The key is putting yourself in a caloric deficit by using more energy than you consume through strenuous activity or eating healthy or less. Otherwise, your body has little incentive to burn fat. Ultimately, your diet is going to be the most important factor in achieving a caloric deficit. Food is literally the cellular building blocks for the body. The common phrase you are what you eat isn’t too far off. Food makes up 100% of the calories that go into your body. Exercise will only account for about 10–25% of the calories that leave it. In the simplest form being healthy is just a science and mathematics equation. Want to lose weight? Eat healthy, eat less. Move more, exercise. Breathe.
What you really want to do is stick to whole foods, healthy fats, and lean proteins. While avoiding sugar and processed foods. You want to consume complex carbohydrates that has a slow release into the blood stream. Many of these are locked in a fiberous matrix, so it takes your body awhile to digest them, so the same giant glucose spike doesn’t happen. Fruits also provide simple carbohydrates that come in the form of fructose, so the negative effects seen by glucose are avoided when consumed in regular sized portions. Post-meal glucose and insulin bumps are perfectly normal and entirely unavoidable. But if they are too big or happen too often, they become harmful. The average adult consumes approximately 63 grams of sugar a day. Nearly 16 teaspoons. The AHA suggests an added-sugar limit of no more than 100 calories per day or 24 grams of sugar per day.
The sugar industry paid scientists in the 1960s to down play the link between sugar and heart disease and promote saturated fat as the culprit instead. They were able to derail the discussion about sugar for decades. Masking the real harms associated with sugar consumption. — JAMA Intern Med
Eating sugar is programed into us over years of evolution. Our primal ancestors sought out sweet foods for their high energy content in hopes to increase their chance of survival in the hunter gather days. But in today’s world especially here in America it’s become a major issue. Sugar and processed food is the real pandemic propped up by corporate money and influence. First they sell you the poison than they sell you the medicine to try and fix it. The consumption of unhealthful foods is on the rise around the world, which is contributing to the more than 1.9 billion adults who are overweight globally. It’s important that we understand how sugar effects us. It is also important to have discipline and balance. Health should be a top priority, by understanding what health really means we can begin to better implement changes in our life styles and the foods we consume.
If you do not make time for your wellness, you will be forced to make time for your illness.