Statistically speaking, every German consumes a total of 34 kilograms of table sugar alone per year. On top of that, there is honey and added sugar in the form of syrup, glucose, and fructose in juices and canned fruit, for example. That’s another ten kilos more a year. We don’t need the material at all. Carbohydrates from bread or pasta provide the energy our body needs. From this, he can then produce glucose himself – the sugar that the cells use as a source of energy.
So sugar provides our body with nothing but superfluous calories, which are known to make us fat. In recent years, scientists have found increasing evidence that too much sugar actually makes us sick.
Obesity and diseases caused by sugar
Sucrose (household sugar) consists of one hand of glucose, also called grape sugar. The other part is fructose – i.e. fruit sugar. The two substances are processed differently in our bodies:
Glucose goes into the blood. The body then uses it with the help of the hormone insulin. Insulin ensures that glucose can be absorbed by the cells at all. There it serves as a fast energy supplier. The body stores excess energy as fat. In addition, glucose causes insulin levels to rise very quickly.
If we constantly eat sugar, the blood sugar level and the release of insulin constantly rise. And that in turn eventually leads to insulin resistance: the cells become insensitive to the hormone. Type 2 diabetes develops. The consequences can be heart attack, vascular, kidney, and nerve damage as well as stroke.
Fructose has less of an effect on blood sugar levels, but it also does not fill you up and damages the liver. Fructose is metabolized by the liver. If more fructose arrives there than it can use, it converts it into fat. This is stored in the liver and promotes inflammation. Other organs also threaten to become fat.
Research results also point to a particular danger associated with fructose: it is said to be less filling than other sugars, which can lead to us eating more of it. It also promotes the formation of fat deposits. Even children can develop a fatty liver from too much sugar intake, similar to that of alcoholics. It can be an early sign of metabolic syndrome, a whole cluster of diseases: diabetes, cardiovascular disease, stroke, and obesity.
Ten percent of all people in Germany already have type 2 diabetes mellitus. And 30 percent suffer from fatty liver.
Fructose hid in many foods
Nevertheless, more and more products are being sweetened with fructose – ketchup, ready meals, sauces, or muesli, for example. The word “fruit” makes the sugar seem harmless. That’s why some manufacturers advertise it. But fructose is not lower in calories or healthier than regular sugar. Sometimes the fructose isn’t listed at all. There is currently no special labeling requirement for fructose. This can lead to health problems for people with fructose intolerance.
Even thin people should eat little sugar
Is it okay to just keep eating sugar as long as you don’t get fat? Not necessarily, because the insulin balance can also be disturbed in slim people. Anyone who consumes a lot of sugary foods, but especially fructose, does not necessarily have to gain weight.
There is also so-called fat thin. They are slim on the outside. But then their internal organs are covered in layers of unhealthy fat. About fifteen percent of all type 2 diabetics are slim. They, too, can suffer from secondary diseases, including cancer.
There is more sugar in juices and smoothies than in fruit
Many people underestimate the sugar content of fruit juices and smoothies in particular. Depending on the type of fruit, some smoothies even contain more sugar than cola contains. Because they consist of fruits in a highly concentrated form together with their natural sugar content. But you can’t eat as many fruits as are contained in juices or smoothies. When pureed, the fibers in the fruit are also destroyed, so that the sugar gets into the blood very quickly.
Anyone who eats fruit instead of drinking juice, therefore, absorbs less glucose and fructose. Fruit is also harder to digest than juice. In this way, the glucose is also absorbed more slowly into the blood and the insulin level rises correspondingly more slowly.
Smoothies are best enjoyed in moderation like sweets, or even better, eat fruit whole instead. But some types of fruit, such as seedless grapes, should only be eaten in moderation because they contain a lot of sugar. You can almost see them as candy. In berries, on the other hand, such as raspberries or blueberries, the sugar content is lower.
Sugar as a drug
Sweet tastes sell well, so almost all ready meals contain sugar as a flavor enhancer. It is also used in the food industry as a cheap filler. But sugar stimulates the same regions in the brain as alcohol or nicotine. There is evidence that sugar can be addictive. Scientists around the world are researching the topic. There are also studies that deal with the question of whether sugar may promote the development of cancer and whether a sugar-free diet helps against the disease.