We tell you why sugar is bad, and especially why added sugar is the great nutritional problem of our time, and not fats.
At this point saying this is not news, but evidence: sugar is bad, terrible and guilty of many different types of diseases. Until relatively recently it was difficult to explain why sugar is bad, because previously the great enemy (always according to the food industry, and unfortunately with the collaboration of prostituted science) were fats, including cholesterol as a secondary actor.
Currently not only do we know that fats are not the culprit, but also that carbohydrates in general are not either: refined foods and specifically white sugar is one of the big problems, and not only because of its use as a method to sweeten food (like coffee), but rather in its form of sugar added to refined foods (although, on the other hand, foods that are advertised as “no added sugar” are not usually a good option either).
Today we will talk about why sugar is bad, how the myth that sugar is good and fats are bad originated, what diseases sugar causes and how we can recognize refined foods, many of them characterized by excess added sugar.
Why sugar is bad: when the sugar industry bought into science
For many years, the phrase "you have to eat everything " has been repeated ad nauseam, a phrase that many types of industries in the food sector have used as a method of self-defense when selling their products and not making people feel bad. average consumer: alcohol, sugar, refined vegetable oils ... the examples would give for entire books, but today we will focus on white sugar, or specifically why sugar is bad but science helped to make us believe otherwise.
Precisely last year 2016, scientists from the University of California uncovered the scandal in JAMA Internal Medicine: during the 1960s, Harvard University published a series of studies in favor of the consumption of sugar, or rather defending that sugar it does not collaborate in the appearance of cardiovascular diseases. Another "culprit" had to be found, and this series of Harvard- endorsed studies dropped all their weight against fats, demonizing them, to this day.
Things would have been correct if the results of these studies were meaningful, and it would not be the first time that a series of studies has disproved a long-held belief. However, on this occasion, it turned out that the studies defending sugar consumption were paid for by the sugar industry at the time: three scientists from Harvard University received $ 6,500 each (about $ 48,900 each at its current value)
Although today there are hundreds of scientific studies that have made clear the danger of consuming an excess of sugar (obesity, cardiovascular diseases in general, diabetes ...), this scientific corruption has diverted its gaze to fats. And worst of all, a decade before Harvard defended sugar consumption, during the 1950s, studies had already begun blaming sugar for these diseases.
Sugar consumption: we don't know what we eat
Let's be honest. With the current western diet, based on refined foods, the vast majority of the population does not know what they are actually consuming. We can't read food labels, and we don't even bother with it. In fact, the labeling system is quite obsolete, since it does not distinguish between children and adults, or between men and women, but nutritional recommendations do usually make such a difference.
All of this means that sugar consumption in Western society has skyrocketed. And not because we overdo the use of white sugar or refined sugar to sweeten desserts or coffees, but because added sugar fills much of the Western diet.
According to the World Health Organization, the amount of sugar that we should consume in a single day should not exceed 5% of total daily calories. In Europe this recommendation becomes laxer, recommending an intake of less than 11% of daily calories (or less than 10% if alcohol is consumed). This would mean consuming less than 25 g of sugar according to the WHO, or less than 50 g of sugar according to European authorities. And no, you probably won't get the math, because the current average in the western world in terms of sugar consumption is 90 g of sugar per day.
If we try to get a glimpse of where all this excess sugar comes from, we see how soft drinks would be the most important source among young people : 42% of the sugar of individuals between 11 and 18 years old comes from these drinks with sugar. On the other hand, sweets and chocolates represent between 19 and 22% among children, although in this group we can also include refined cereals and cookies, and fruit juices with added sugars.
Regarding the adult group (between 19 and 64 years old), canned food, jams, soft drinks and refined cereals would be the main sources of excess sugar. Likewise, alcohol would represent up to 10% of sugar consumption in this age group.
Finally, let's look at some examples of foods with more sugar, thanks to which it is tremendously easy to exceed this 5% of daily calories recommended by the WHO, or even the 10-11% recommended by European authorities. In fact, recently the sinAzucar.org project has already denounced many of the examples that we will comment on.
Soluble cocoa: two teaspoons represent 15 g of added sugar.
Refined cereals: for every 100 g of cereals there are almost 50 g of added sugar.
Cookies and pastries: for every 100 g there are up to 20 g of added sugar.
Sodas with sugar and energy drinks: each can of cola represents more than 30 g of sugar.
White and milk chocolate: for every 100 g of chocolate there is up to 60 g of sugar.
Jams: up to 50% of its composition is sugar.
Dairy desserts (custards, custards, refined yogurts): can contain up to 30 g of sugar per serving.
Fried tomato: the added sugar ensures the flavor and reduces the acidity.
Sauces: although they are usually products with excess fat, the added sugar helps to reduce acidity and give flavor.
Candies: they are practically pure sugar, since their preparation is based on sugar or sugar syrup together with colorants.
Diseases caused by sugar
Although the sugar industry tried to decouple its product from cardiovascular diseases, today we know that many risk factors are worsened by sugar: obesity, diabetes (excess blood sugar), and even hypertension are caused or worsened by consumption of sugar, either in the form of added sugar or in the form of refined white sugar.
It is worth highlighting a recent study, published in the Journal of the Endocrine Society, where it has been stated that just consuming two soft drinks or sugary drinks a week (yes, a week, and not a day) would be enough to increase the long-term risk of diabetes.
In fact, hypertension was linked to sugar consumption relatively recently: according to a study published in the Open-Heart magazine in 2016, added sugar (especially fructose, the main sugar in soft drinks) contributes to the risk of hypertension. However, consuming sugar of natural origin (such as that contained in fruits) would not only not cause said hypertension, but would also collaborate as a protective factor.
Too much sugar harms the brain
Although it was previously suspected, little by little studies have been suggesting that excess sugar in the blood, even without suffering from diabetes as such, can increase the risk of dementia. This was stated by a study published in Neurology and carried out with more than 2,000 individuals over 65 years of age who had sugar levels in the high range of normal, without being diabetic, but still their risk of suffering dementia increased up to a 18%.
On the other hand, another study published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation in 2015, there would also be a direct relationship between excess sugar in the diet and the risk of suffering from Alzheimer's disease. Specifically, when the amount of sugar in the blood doubles, the levels of beta-amyloid protein in the brain (the pathological protein related to the disease, according to current evidence) would increase by up to 20%. In fact, previous research has classified Alzheimer's disease as a possible type 3 diabetes.
Continuing with the influence of sugar at the brain level, other studies have affirmed that sugar is a potentially addictive substance, as stated in a study published in 2007 in Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews, since it causes a stimulation of opioid receptors, a type of stimulation similar to that produced by drugs such as heroin or cocaine. Subsequently, another study published in PloS ONE in 2016 corroborated this hypothesis, going so far as to show that the same drugs used to treat tobacco addiction would also work against sugar addiction.
Likewise, excess sugar has also shown structural damage to the brain, being able to literally shrink the brain and impair memory, even being at high levels but within the normal range, according to a study published in PloS ONE last year 2012.
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