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To what diseases do studies say sugar or fructose consumption lead?

You may wish to check out the April 14, 2013 Pittsburgh Post-Gazette article by David Templeton, Sweet and sour Experts say sugar consumption leads to a host of diseases." A lot of people still don't know the difference on the body affected by common table sugar known as sucrose. It's half and half a combination of glucose and fructose. Most people still think common table sugar is all sucrose. No. But what sucrose (common table sugar) does in the intestines is to separate, to break down into glucose and fructose.

To what diseases do studies say sugar or fructose consumption lead?
Photo credit: Prof. Dr. Hans-Peter Meinzer, Deutsches Krebsforschungszentrum. 3D-illustration of a human liver with blood vessels (red and blue) and bile duct (green).

What happens next is the glucose and fructose now broken down from the table sugar (sucrose) flows into the liver through your portal vein. Then the biological processes begin. But what about glucose?

Actually, glucose, which only has a slightly sweet taste is a form of sugar that's produced as starches and the other carbohydrates break down. Starches turn to sugar. Next, the cells begin to get energized as long as insulin is there, but the liver gets the first chance to work with the sugar that you just ate. Now the problem comes up as to whether your liver has enough energy to deal with the sugar.

If the energy is sufficient, then an enzyme that metabolizes glucose has to switch off

You now have a bunch of glucose moving to your brain, organs, and various organs. But the brain also can get energy from coconut oil if it doesn't have a lot of excess glucose from a high-sugar diet. As far as the glucose, if there's is too much glucose in your blood stream from eating foods that quickly turn to sugar/glucose in your bloodstream, what eventually develops could progress to metabolic syndrome.

What happens is that too much glucose in the blood can lead to insulin sensitivity. The body keeps pouring out the insulin, but your cells lose their sensitivity to the insulin. So more insulin pours out. Eventually, you'll feel shaky or have other symptoms of too much insulin in the blood. The excess insulin also prematurely ages out your arteries and organs.

As the excess blood glucose moves toward insulin insensitivity, the glucose you're eating keeps building up in the blood. The resulting metabolic syndrome can progress to type 2 diabetes. What you can do about that is stop eating foods that quickly turn to sugar in the bloodstream. You would eat foods that are low on the glycemic index that would turn to glucose a lot slower. Foods that are lowest on the glycemic index include arugula which contains 2g of carbs in a 50-gram portion. One cup of arugula contains 1g of carbs. See the PDF article/list, "Low glycemic index chart - Here are the 25 Lowest-Carb Veggies."

Other low glycemic vegetables are celery, cauliflower, broccoli, asparagus, cucumber, onions, iceberg lettuce, kale, white mushrooms, radishes, turnips, Romaine lettuce, (maiktake and shiitake mushrooms also have been studied for health effects), green bell peppers, okra, bok choy, mung beans, legumes, black beans, corn, green beans, carrots, yellow pepper, cabbage, snap peas, spinach, and red bell pepper. Beets are sweet, but they have their place as raw beets in a smoothie or a beet burger.

Some people are advised to cut out of their diet peas, white flour, sugar, and trans fats. If you look at just a half cup of raw sugar snap peas, they only contain one gram of carbohydrates. So if you want to put just a half cup of raw peas in your blender to puree your vegetables into a vegetable juice beverage. You can realize what portion size means when it comes to a variety of vegetables. For example, broccoli has anti-inflammatory properties and certain phytochemicals called isotheocyanates which researchers use to neutralize carcinogens in various studies.

What's the story with fructose?

When fructose is naturally found in fruits, it comes in a naturally small amount in balance with the sugar in the fruit. The healthy point is that the whole fruit has fiber which slows down the absorption of sugar into the bloodstream. The juice is the sugary water with the fiber/pulp removed in most cases.

Fructose as eaten in one apple, for example may not pose a problem. But when excess fructose is eaten, there's no fiber to delay the rate at which the fructose enters the rest of the body. If fructose is eaten as if it were sugar added to food or liquid, it hits the liver. And there's too little fructose getting into muscles, brain, or other organs to add energy. Some commercial beverages add caffeine as a stimulant to give the person the impression the energy is coming from the fructose rather than from the caffeine. But too much fructose in the diet could lead to high cholesterol issues and plaque clogging the arteries.

High fructose corn syrup is a sugar chemically produced from corn starch

This form of fructose is cheaper than sucrose with the added appeal of providing food texture and also serves to make people hungrier soon after filling up on fructose. You find high fructose corn syrup in processed foods from salad dressings to soft drinks like soda pop, certain fruit juices, some types of canned fruit, and other products.

If you check out the studies on what happens when eating excess high fructose corn syrup, you can see some of the links to cardiovascular issues, stroke, and diseases stemming from clogged arteries or damaged artery linings. See, "Food that clog arteries - Doctor wisdom on HealthTap." You even see some types of baby formula with high fructose corn syrup added. Check out the site, "Corn Syrup in Formula | Parenting." A baby's brain doesn't have to become addicted to sweet foods so early in life that they are preferred over drinking clean water with meals decades later.

You might check out YouTube videos such as "Fat Chance: Fructose 2.0 - YouTube. " Dr. Robert Lustig, University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) Division of Pediatric Endocrinology, updates his very popular video "Sugar: The Bitter Truth." Or see the doctor's video on sugar, "Dr. Robert Lustig From 'Sugar: The Bitter Truth' Shares ... - YouTube " and "Sugar: The Bitter Truth - UCTV - University of California Television." Or see, "Sugar Pandemic Policy vs. Politics vs. Law with Dr. Robert Lustig" and "." There's also the book, The Real Truth About Sugar: Dr. Robert Lustig's "Sugar: The Bitter Truth.

Dr. Robert Lustig’s YouTube lectures about the dangers of sugar have raised a few eyebrows in recent years and even drawn some criticism

But the pediatric endocrinologist’s proclamations are supported by research his team has done at the University of California, San Francisco, with steady confirmation from other scientific studies linking sugar with chronic disease and early death. Among his points are, according to the April 14, 2013 Pittsburgh Post-Gazette article by David Templeton, " Sweet and sour Experts say sugar consumption leads to a host of diseases," the following information:

1. Sugar is poison.

2. Sugar is sugar and unhealthy in any form.

3. A calorie is not just a calorie. There are good ones and bad ones, including sugar.

4. Obesity is not a prerequisite for metabolic illness. Eighty percent of those with obesity do have metabolic disease or resulting chronic illness. But 40 percent of people of normal weight also have such diseases.

5. And don’t blame those who are obese or chronically ill for their conditions. It’s not so much poor lifestyle behavior as it is biochemical exposures to sugar and other unhealthful ingredients that food manufacturers routinely put into food products, with consumers often being unaware.

The point is watch those processed food packages with sugar, fructose, or corn syrup or other sweeteners listed on the labels. One important point when you look at packages of processed foods. Sugar is listed by many names from certain types of crystals to dextran, athyl maltol, treacle, panocha, lactose, sorbitol, dextrose, evaporated cane juice, and a host of other names.

You even find numerous types of stevia mixed with dextrose instead of offering pure stevia as a sweetener in some brands. You can find stevia unmixed with other types of sugar or other fillers. For example, see, "How To Make Your Own Pure Stevia and Liquid Stevia."

You have numerous doctors giving lectures on the increased use of high fructose corn syrup in foods, especially in soft drinks. The sweetener produced chemically from corn starch provides better texture and improves shelf life. But that's the reason for the corn syrup. It's cheaper to use than sugar in the USA. In Mexico, sugar is used in soft drinks, because there sugar is cheaper. Up north, corn syrup is cheaper than sugar.

Sucrose, or table sugar, is half fructose, which is metabolized in the liver, and glucose, which is blood sugar that produces cellular energy to muscles and organs

The problem with fatty liver is that too much fructose gets changed into fat. It also can contribute to higher cholesterol and more clogged arteries full of plaque. High fructose corn syrup used in soft drinks has a 55-45 ratio of fructose to glucose.

Why changes aren't made when consumers want change is that there's disagreement. On one hand you have people talking about the addictive nature of sugar. Chocolate also is addictive. On the other hand, sugar and fructose is all around people in supermarkets. The issue is abundance and affordability. For example, the article, Sweet and sour Experts say sugar consumption leads to a host of diseases" mentions a recent study by Dr Lustig’s team that found 25 percent of type 2 diabetes is caused specifically by sugar consumption.

The problem with too much sugar in the diet is how it can lead to fatty liver, high triglycerides, too high LDL cholesterol levels, damaged arteries clogged with plaque, and insulin resistance leading to metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes. There also are studies on diet and type 3 diabetes (brain diabetes such as dementia).

Are you trapped between eating sugar with your meals and in your plate or glass and metabolic diseases? The metabolic diseases being studied as to their relationship with high sugar and high fructose diets include type 2 and type 3 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, metabolic syndrome, fatty liver, hypertension and particular risk factors of (high cholesterol and triglycerides). If you read in the field of nutritional biology or nutritional physiology, you can see these studies. Too much of the wrong type of food also can lead to inflammation.

Fatty liver -- how a serious problem arises

Excess fat around the hips and belly may not really be compatible with current beauty ideals, but, to a certain degree, it is a normal, even vital energy store of our body. However, it is a different matter if the organism stores fat in organs such as the liver, pancreas or muscles. This is a clear sign of a metabolic disorder, according a study published online April 6, 2011 "Hepatic deficiency in transcriptional co-factor TBL1 promotes liver steatosis and hypertriglyceridemia," published in the journal Cell Metabolism.

Up to 80 percent of obese people develop fatty liver disease, which is regarded a typical characteristic of the dangerous metabolic syndrome. Deposition of fat in the liver may lead to chronic liver inflammation and even to liver cancer. In addition, fatty liver is considered to be an independent risk factor for coronary heart disease and atherosclerosis.

The great medical relevance of fatty liver as a severe condition accompanying insulin resistance and type II diabetes caused the research group headed by Dr. Stephan Herzig of the Division of Molecular Metabolic Control to investigate how this syndrome arises.

Which molecular switches are turned on or off in a cell when food delivers too much energy-rich fat molecules, or triglycerides?

To this end, the investigators determined the level of particular proteins involved in specific gene activation in the liver tissue of mice. These proteins, which are known as transcriptional co-activators, regulate which proteins are read and transcribed into messenger RNA molecules in a cell. In overweight mice, the researchers observed that a high triglyceride level in the liver was always associated with reduced production of a co-activator called TBL1. This was found both in animals that developed fatty liver for hereditary reasons and in those animals that received calorie-rich food.

TBL1 was originally discovered in connection with a rare hereditary hearing disorder. In the liver, but not in other tissues, an oversupply of fat reduces the production of TBL1. As a result, fat burning in the liver is reduced so that more fat molecules are deposited in liver cells. "This, in turn, may lead to a further reduction of TBL1," says Stephan Herzig, according to the April 6, 2011 news release, "Fatty liver -- how a serious problem arises."

Not only in mice is TBL1 linked to the liver fat (lipid) metabolism. The group found the same pattern in human liver tissue samples: the higher their triglyceride levels, the lower their TBL1 levels.

Stephan Herzig expects a practical use of these results. "We might be able in the future to use TBL1 levels for identifying those obese persons who have a special risk of developing fatty liver. We could then give specific dietary recommendations to counteract this," he said, according to the April 6, 2011 news release, "Fatty liver -- how a serious problem arises."

Authors of the study are: Philipp Kulozik, Allan Jones, Frits Mattijssen, Adam J. Rose, Anja Reimann, Daniela Strzoda, Stefan Kleinsorg, Christina Raupp, Jürgen Kleinschmidt, Karin Müller-Decker, Walter Wahli, Carsten Sticht, Norbert Gretz, Christian von Loeffelholz, Martin Stockmann, Andreas Pfeiffer, Sigrid Stöhr, Geesje M. Dallinga-Thie, Peter P. Nawroth, Mauricio Berriel Diaz and Stephan Herzig.

Runners and diet/food

For the athlete, there are diet tips. Check out the April 17, 2014 article by Lauren Kodiak, "What runners should eat: Nutrition tips for every distance ." One diet mentioned in that article suggests easily digested carbs. But too much fat, protein, or fiber can cause an upset stomach while running. Water is noted, and avoiding too much sugar which also could lead to an upset stomach.

After a short run, whole-grain carbs and protein is mentioned along with cold soup such as gazpacho, vegetables, chickpeas or a yogurt smoothie. The point is to eat for muscle repair. You're focused on balancing carbs, proteins, and electrolytes when fueling for runs. You don't want too much fat or protein while running.

That article by Lauren Kodiak notes that for easy to moderate runs less than 1 hour long, 0.5 grams of carb per kilogram of body weight (about 30 grams for someone weighing 140 pounds) eaten one to two hours before should be sufficient (as a part of an overall balanced diet). For runs lasting one hour or more, about 1 gram of carb per kilogram of body weight should be consumed one to two hours before.

The diet for runners is going to be different than for sedentary, over age 75 people sitting all day in front of a computer or other device or book, and then turning on the TV set. There's a need to keep moving, walking, weight-bearing exercise, yoga or chair yoga, Pilates, tai chi, qi gong, folk dance, wheel chair dance, moving to the rhythms, stretching exercises, aerobics, or other activities for muscle health.