Fitness articles

Reduce Sugar Intake

28/01/2011by in ,

The Effect of Sugar

The country has developed a taste for sugar. Each person eats an average of 145lbs per year. Sugar can be addicting.

Sucrose is a simple sugar, so it is almost pre-digested. Once ingested sugar goes straight to the bloodstream and creates a condition called “high blood sugar” meaning our glucose (blood sugar levels) are too high. High glucose levels trigger large (and often excess) amounts of insulin to be released, which removes the glucose from our bloodstream. Once all the glucose is removed by insulin we are left with low blood sugar. This condition creates headaches, listlessness and a craving for more sugar or an alternative pick me up. We eat whatever sweet thing we can get our hands on and the sugar cycle continues.

Now here is the bad news. Besides taking glucose from the blood stream, another of insulin’s roles is to promote fat storage. If we eat highly sugared foods often, large amounts of insulin are always present, making it very difficult for the body to eat in to those stubborn fat stores.

The Fate of Fat

Fatty acid molecules travel through the blood as either Free Fatty Acids (FFA’s) or as Triglycerides (TG’s). An analogue may be football supporters roaming the streets on their own. Triglycerides cannot get directly in to the fat cell because their molecules are too big, so need to be broken down in FFA’s and glycerol units, like the footballer supporters having to pass single file through the entrance into the stadium. Once inside the stadium (fat cell) they join up again with the glycerol and are stored as TG’s

Keeping the stadium analogy, our supporters have to get past the steward. In the fat cell the main “steward” is the hormone insulin, which is formed in the pancreas and secreted into the bloodstream in response to a rise in blood sugars. Before a meal (low insulin) the steward has the exit open allowing FFA’s to leave, to supply energy for the body. After a meal (high insulin) the steward closes the exit and opens the entrance to allow FFA’s to enter.

Insulin also activates an enzyme, lipoprotein lipase (LPL) in the fat cell. This enzyme acts a “ticket tout” outside the stadium touting for business. Adipose lipoprotein lipase (ALPL) breaks FFA’s off the TG so that they can enter the fat cell.

Insulin also acts as a “steward” for the muscle cell but here the functions are somewhat different because he has 2 entrances to control. Before a meal he has the “Fat Door” open to allow FFA’s into the muscle cell to provide it with energy. He also activates muscle LPL which breaks down the TG to allow FFA’s to get through the door. After a meal he closes the fat door and opens the “Glucose Door” so the muscle switches from running on fat to running on glucose. (Interestingly, if the muscle needs a lot of energy such as during exercise, the glucose goes straight in through another door that insulin has no control over?