Sugar. It’s everywhere. Go to a coffee shop and it’s in nice little packages, go to a restaurant and it comes with your drink…it’s hard to resist.
I remember traveling through Asia getting hooked on the street fruit juices. I thought that if they’re made with real fruit, they must be healthy. I was in for a surprise….a few weeks later, I saw some photos and I ballooned up like a fat jelly bean. I looked over weight and completely out of shape. Probably one of the worst shapes of my life.
Little did I know how damaging sugar was, and how widespread it is in our food system.
We’ve all heard that it can be a factor in our obesity problems, addictive appetites, expanding bellies, and diseases such as type 2 diabetes. But have you heard that sugar can be bad for our brain too?
Lets get a basic understanding of sugar first…
Fructose is a type of sugar in fruit and honey. Table sugar (the white stuff we sprinkle in coffee) is Sucrose, which is a combination of glucose and fructose. The sugar we find in soda drinks, and many other processed foods is High-Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS), which is made of fructose, glucose and 3% other carbohydrates.
Foods that are high in glucose such as pastas, cereals, breads, rice, corn, soda, and beer all get digested quickly because as the bloodstream gets flooded with this glucose the pancreas releases insulin into the blood stream.
The carbs that trigger the biggest surge in blood sugar are typically the most fattening. The more sugars we eat, the more we store them to fat.
High-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is cheaper and sweeter than table sugar (sucrose), so you’ll find it in many processed foods. The cheaper cost allows manufacturers to make the average soda size go from 8 ounces to 20 ounces with little cost increase, packing in massive quantities…a 20 ounce serving of sweetened soda, sports drink, or fruit juices has about 17 tea-spoons of sugar. To put in perspective, our hunter gatherer ancestors consumed the equivalent 20 teaspoons per year, not per day.
There’s lots of media about the harmful effects of HFCS, including increased obesity, diabetes, and chronic disease, but sugar in general can all be to blame because they are all a form of carbohydrates.
Fruits and vegetables have relatively little sugar, when compared to a can of soda and other carbs. They have fiber so they take longer to break down, causing a slower release of glucose into the blood stream. For example, a potato will have a much bigger impact on raising blood sugar than a peach, because the peach that has more water and fiber, therefore a slower release of glucose.
Here’s the most dramatic part…extra sugar in the body attaches to proteins, causing them to become mutated, known as glycation (high-fructose corn syrup increases the rate of glycation by 10). When proteins become glycated they become less functional and they attach themselves to other similarly damaged proteins, causing even more problems. These glycated proteins increase free radicals in the bodies, leading to damaged tissues, fat, and other proteins, even DNA.
High levels of glycation have been associated with brain decline, kidney disease, premature again, and diabetes.
Stay away from sugar and especially high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS). They are poor quality, nutritionally deficient, processed food full of empty calories and artificial ingredients.
The bottom line, if you want to become the optimal version of yourself and reduce the glycation and free radicals harming your body and your brain, than limit your sugar intake.
- The main types of sugar are fructose, glucose, and high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS)
- Foods high in glucose (pastas, cereals, breads, rice, corn, soda, beer) cause spikes in our body’s blood sugar
- The carbs that trigger the biggest surge in blood sugar are typically the most fattening
- Sugar bonds with proteins, causing them to become mutated, which cause problems such as brain decline, kidney disease, premature ageing, and diabetes
- If you want to reduce harming of your body and your brain, lower your sugar intake
The Action I Take
- I stopped adding sugar to coffee and all other food when possible
- When I order a fruit juice at a restaurant, I ask for no sugar
- I limit my intake of high glucose foods (pastas, cereals, breads, rice, corn, soda, and beer)
- I’ve associated that sugar is full of empty calories and is nutritionally deficient…therefore it’s a waste to my system and may cause diseases
- Overall, I avoid all sugar as much as possible, having only a few sugary treats each week
What’s your experience with sugar? Did you know that sugar causes damages to our brain? Are you going to limit your sugar intake?