Sugar: Just how bad is it?
Genetic, environmental and dietary factors impact how we absorb glucose from complex carbohydrates, says professor George O'Doherty.
A couple of weeks ago, science writer Gary Taubes author of the book Why We Get Fat wrote an article for the New York Times magazine in which he analyzed the debate over whether sugar and high-fructose corn syrup is the dietary cause of chronic ailments such as heart disease, hypertension and cancer.
George ODoherty, professor of chemistry and chemical biology at Northeastern University, considers the danger of consuming too much sugar.
Is sugar toxic?
This cannot be true. If sugar were toxic, then we would need to change our common definition of the word toxic or agree that everything is toxic and just a question of dose. Clearly, a high-calorie diet high in sugar can lead to higher blood glucose levels, which in turn can lead to obesity and eventually diabetes. The question to ask is, is this news?
What makes sugar bad for you?
There are two main arguments. The more credible argument points out that high blood glucose concentrations can lead to a resetting of the appetite suppression mechanism and insulin response, which eventually causes obesity and diabetes.
The second, less convincing, argument begins with the fact that glucose and fructose can be metabolized through separate pathways that store energy in different ways. The good pathway uses glucose and leads to glycogen as the energy-storage molecule, and the bad pathway uses fructose and leads to fatty acid synthesis. This argument is fundamentally flawed because the two metabolic pathways are not independent. In fact, these pathways are reversible and interconnected at several levels. Thus, the body can compensate for a lack of sugar from one by using the other. As a result, the difference in these two pathways is only revealed when both glucose and fructose are present in abundance, which may be the case in The Typical Western Diet.
If you wanted to limit sugar intake, it would be more effective to reduce your consumption of fructose over glucose, by drinking less soda, for example. Of course, even this is a simplistic view. There are a lot of genetic, environmental and dietary factors that go into how we absorb glucose from complex carbohydrates that affect our total calorie intake and choice of diet.
How much sugar and carbohydrates do you recommend we consume each day?
As a general principal, we should think of less rather than more. In trying to reduce caloric intake, we should reduce fructose and sucrose followed by the more complex carbohydrates. Having said that, I am not arguing for the choice of a potato (carbohydrates) over a tomato (fructose/sucrose). Similarly, when you examine the long-term effects from years of exposure, you have to wonder whether fructose or a sugar substitute, like Sucralose, is better for you.
Provided by Northeastern University
- Pure fructose frequently confused with high fructose corn syrup Mar 04, 2009 | not rated yet | 0
- Study shows cane sugar, corn sweeteners have similar effects on appetite Jul 10, 2007 | not rated yet | 0
- The not-so-sweet truth about sugar -- a risk choice? Nov 22, 2010 | not rated yet | 0
- Fructose-sweetened drinks increase nonfasting triglycerides in obese adults Feb 12, 2009 | not rated yet | 0
- Fructose metabolism more complicated than was thought Dec 09, 2008 | not rated yet | 0
- Motion perception revisited: High Phi effect challenges established motion perception assumptions Apr 23, 2013 | 3 / 5 (2) | 2
- Anything you can do I can do better: Neuromolecular foundations of the superiority illusion (Update) Apr 02, 2013 | 4.5 / 5 (11) | 5
- The visual system as economist: Neural resource allocation in visual adaptation Mar 30, 2013 | 5 / 5 (2) | 9
- Separate lives: Neuronal and organismal lifespans decoupled Mar 27, 2013 | 4.9 / 5 (8) | 0
- Sizing things up: The evolutionary neurobiology of scale invariance Feb 28, 2013 | 4.8 / 5 (10) | 14
Classical and Quantum Mechanics via Lie algebras
Apr 15, 2011 I'd like to open a discussion thread for version 2 of the draft of my book ''Classical and Quantum Mechanics via Lie algebras'', available online at http://lanl.arxiv.org/abs/0810.1019 , and for the...
- More from Physics Forums - Independent Research
More news stories
Talking on a hands-free device while behind the wheel can lead to a sharp increase in errors that could imperil other drivers on the road, according to new research from the University of Alberta.
Health 3 hours ago | not rated yet | 0
(HealthDay)—More than one in four of those eligible for new premium assistance tax credits under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) do not have a checking account and will not be able to receive premiums from ...
Health 5 hours ago | not rated yet | 0
After studying noise in one French Quarter neighborhood of New Orleans to determine whether or not noise levels exceeded municipal ordinances, Annette Hurley, PhD, Assistant Professor of Audiology at LSU Health Sciences Center ...
Health 6 hours ago | not rated yet | 0
Young children who missed more than half of recommended well-child visits had up to twice the risk of hospitalization compared to children who attended most of their visits, according to a study published today in the American Jo ...
Health 6 hours ago | not rated yet | 0
The individualisation of drug treatments to support patients to self-manage their conditions is a concept that sits at the heart of policy, but a recent study in BMJ Open shows that there is no concrete defini ...
Health 9 hours ago | 3 / 5 (1) | 0
Two mutations central to the development of infantile myofibromatosis (IM)—a disorder characterized by multiple tumors involving the skin, bone, and soft tissue—may provide new therapeutic targets, according to researchers ...
3 hours ago | 5 / 5 (1) | 0 |
(Medical Xpress)—A new study by researchers in the US has shown that an ancient virus can be modified to help in the fight against the simian immunodeficiency virus SIV, which is the equivalent in monkeys ...
9 hours ago | 5 / 5 (3) | 0 |
Women at a particular stage in their monthly menstrual cycle may be more vulnerable to some of the psychological side-effects associated with stressful experiences, according to a study from UCL.
6 hours ago | 5 / 5 (1) | 0 |
Biological processes are generally based on events at the molecular and cellular level. To understand what happens in the course of infections, diseases or normal bodily functions, scientists would need to ...
6 hours ago | 5 / 5 (2) | 0 |
Kate O'Reilly's spring allergy survival kit includes the usual stuff - nasal sprays, allergy pills and a box of tissues. This season, she's added a new weapon to her line of defense: an app on her smartphone.
4 hours ago | not rated yet | 0