8 Facts About Sugar

Here 8 Facts About Sugar that you don’t know probably

  1. You could be eating a high-sugar diet even if you don’t own a sugar bowl. Half of our carbohydrate intake is in the form of sugar, experts tell us; between 20 and 25 percent of our calories come from sucrose. Most of it is already in the foods we buy.
  2. If your family includes an average teenager or preteen, he or she consumes even more sugar directly and indirectly than you do150 pounds a year, compared to the typical adult intake of 130 pounds a year.
  3. If you eat processed foods, it’s easy to take as much as one-fourth of your food energy in the form of empty calories, because sugar is “hidden” in many of our favorite everyday store-bought foods. Some are alarmingly high in sucrose: ketchup, coffee lighteners, and salad dressings are a few examples.
  4. Part of the blame for sugar dependency in our society belongs to food processors. It is easier and more profitable to turn out devitalized foods than to take the care that the production of real food requires. Examples of companies who offer cash “rebates” to schools in exchange for proof of purchase from their sugary, empty-calorie offerings brought in by pupils are unfortunately growing.
  5. In its natural state, before the processors get to it, raw cane sugar juice actually contains unsaturated fatty acids, almost half of the B complex, vitamins A and D, protein substances we call enzymes, plus some minerals. All but a trace of the minerals, however, are destroyed by refining.
  6. You may be a “ sucroholic,” if you can’t leave those sweets alone. Many investigators, such as Dr. Abraham Nizel of Tufts University, tell us that a dependency on sugar is similar to drug addiction. Look closely at your diet. If it is so high in refined sugary foods that you are forced to rely on three-quarters of it to supply the nutrients your body needs for growth and cellular repair, then your diet is in need of reform.
  7. Sugar plays a determining role in the development of many diseases. Problems of fluid retention which may be caused by sugar can lead to hypertension. Sugar is just as suspect as dietary fats in promoting cardiovascular disease, say experts such as Dr. John Yudkin.
  8. Dietary imbalance and malnutrition occur when the sugar and other negative foods in your diet outweigh the positive foods you eat. Millions of Americans are not much different from the animals described by a report in Nutrition Reviews revealing that when both high-sugar and high-nutrient foods were available, the animals made the worst choice.Abnormal body fat deposits, often a result of sugar intake, are frequently linked to a diet low in protein and thiamine, the B vitamin needed for activating the glucose that gives you energy.

The ABCs of Carbohydrate Digestion

Understanding how your body digests carbohydrates will help you see why unrefined, whole carbohydrates are healthier than refined sugars and starches. The process begins before you even put the food in your mouth.

  1. Aroma. A sharp sense of smell is the first step in digestion, strange as it sounds, because the nerves that act as aroma perceptors in your nose help to stimulate the production of saliva in your mouth and the gastric juice in your stomach. Good-smelling foods “make your mouth water.” These savory aromas help insure good digestion.
  2. Saliva acts fast. As soon as the parotid glands behind each ear receive the signal, saliva is produced and the enzymes it contains go to work digesting your morning toast or lunchtime cole slaw right in your mouth.
  3. Chew your food thoroughly. You may have heard this many times since you were a kid. There’s a reason for such advice. The more the food is masticated, the more completely it is digested and assimilated. And the longer that raw carrot remains in your mouth, the more amylase or ptyalin enzyme will be secreted. This in turn converts the polysaccharides glycogen, starch, and dextrin into the double sugar maltose. One thing these oral enzymes can’t do is turn disaccharides into monosaccharides. Sucrose remains undigested in the mouth.
  4. Half a minute after you swallow, everything changes. Any ptyalin that finds its way to your stomach meets its end there, because among its many activities, the powerful hydrochloric acid in the stomach destroys this enzyme, and carbohydrate digestion is slowed somewhat. Hydrochloric acid also liquefies the carbohydrate components as a blender might, so they can be passed along to be further digested as they progress along your body’s digestive tract.
  5. The upper section of your small intestine is called the duodenum, and the sugar-digesting enzyme found there is similar to ptyalin. This enzyme is called pancreatic amylase. Once more the tempo of carbohydrate digestion is picked up, as this enzyme attacks the starches and sugars that food contains.
  6. Double sugars are decomposed by enzymes secreted from the wall of the small intestine. The enzyme lactase attacks lactose (milk sugar); sucrase splits sucrose (table sugar), dextrin, and the other products of the breakdown of starch. Your intestinal wall also secretes enzymes that turn fructose into glucose. Total breakdown of complex carbohydrates will take roughly two hours. Simple sugars can take as little as fifteen minutes. But carbohydrate food can remain in the stomach for as long as ninety minutes. How the food was cooked, how you feel, how much available glucose was present, and how much you eat are factors that speed up or slow down that transit time. Carbohydrates and simple sugars usually move through your system faster than all other foods. Honey may require more time than sucrose, fructose, or glucose to travel from your stomach to your small intestine to be assimilated.

You Are What You Assimilate: How Absorption Works

Digestion is only part of the process that turns food into nourishment. If it’s true you are what you eat, there’s even more truth in the observation that you are what you absorb. Here’s how that postdigestive process works.

Since foods cannot be taken up by your bloodstream until they have been turned into simple sugars, let us observe what happens to the carbohydrate fragments of that carob brownie you ate, in their simplest, single-sugar form. Absorption takes place so quickly following conversion of starches and sugars into monosaccharides that the largest percentage of carbohydrate has been taken up and utilized by the time the food reaches the midpoint of the small intestine. Conversion and absorption seem like one and the same process, so rapidly does your system do both jobs. Your system acts like a kitchen food processor, turning large food molecules into minute ones. Your digestive tract is equipped with meshlike material that is in actuality a colony of enzymes that are capable of miniaturizing molecules as needed.

The different kinds of carbohydrates are assimilated at different speeds. Sucrose, for example, is so simple it requires little effort to be assimilated: as soon as it hits the small intestine, sucrase breaks it into glucose and fructose. That’s why you feel its effect so rapidly; it is literally in your bloodstream in no time. A stalk of celery, in contrast, cannot readily be broken down. The cellulose-type carbohydrates that predominate in this vegetable are so complex, they don’t go into your bloodstream at all.

In the middle are the complex carbohydrates represented by starch, the kind found in potatoes, com, and bread. Conversion here is slower than that for sugar, but not as slow as that required by highroughage foods. For this reason, digesting and assimilating such a good food is easy on your very active gastrointestinal system.

If you know what factors are at play in food absorption, you can sometimes do a thing or two to facilitate matters yourself at mealtime.

  • The fewer different foods fight for the attention of your enzymes, the smoother the whole operation is bound to be.
  • If you’re hungry and distraught because your blood sugar is low, the breakdown and absorption of food will be less efficient than if you are experiencing true hunger at a normally appointed time. It’s important to space your meals intelligently, not waiting until you’re famished to eat.
  • Try to eat at least one fiber food with each meal. Your fat- and protein-rich foods will be better digested because roughage smooths the way through the entire gastrointestinal tract.

Summary

Carbohydrate digestion begins before you even bite into your foods. The savory aroma of good food stimulates saliva production; your saliva contains enzymes which break starches and sugars into double sugars. It is important to chew your food well to facilitate this process. In your stomach, hydrochloric acid liquefies your foods; but it is in the small intestine that most carbohydrate digestion takes place. There is a meshlike net of enzymes in your intestine to break down all the starches and sugars that your body is going to use into single sugars, because only these tiny molecules can be absorbed through the walls of the small intestine and into the bloodstream. To help your intestines along, you can eat only a few different foods at each meal; chew your food well; and be sure that each meal includes some roughage from the skins of fruit, the hulls of seeds, the bran from grains, or from legumes or raw vegetables.

 

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