How dangerous is sugar for our health

How dangerous is sugar?

Status: 15.06.2020 9:03 p.m.
Bread and pasta, for example, are perfectly adequate as energy suppliers. The body doesn't need any extra sugar.

Statistically speaking, every German consumes a total of 34 kilograms of household sugar alone per year. On top of that there are honey and added sugar in the form of syrup, glucose and fructose in juices and canned fruit, for example. That's another ten kilos more a year. We don't even need the material. Carbohydrates from bread or pasta provide the energy our body needs. From this he can then produce glucose himself - the sugar that the cells use as an energy source.

So sugar does not provide our body with anything except superfluous calories, which are known to make us fat. In recent years, scientists have found more and more evidence that too much sugar actually makes us sick.

Obesity and diseases from sugar

Too much fructose is unhealthy

Juices and smoothies naturally contain fructose - many people underestimate this. But fructose is also popular as an additive. Why you should be careful with fructose. more

Sucrose (table sugar) consists on the one hand of glucose, also called grape sugar. The other part is fructose - that is, fruit sugar. The two substances are processed differently in our body:

glucose goes into the blood. The body then uses it with the help of the hormone insulin, which ensures that glucose can be absorbed by the cells in the first place. There it serves as a quick energy supplier. The body stores excess energy as fat. Glucose also increases insulin levels very quickly.

If we eat sugar all the time, the blood sugar level and insulin release also rise constantly. And that in turn leads to insulin resistance at some point: the cells become insensitive to the hormone. Type 2 diabetes develops. The consequences can be heart attacks, vascular, kidney and nerve damage as well as strokes.

Fructose has less of an effect on the blood sugar level, but also does not fill you up and damages the liver. Fructose is metabolized by the liver. If more fructose arrives there than it can use, it converts it into fat. This is stored in the liver and promotes inflammation. Other organs also threaten to become fat.

Research also suggests a particular danger associated with fructose: It is said to make you less full than other sugars, which can lead to us eating more of it. It also promotes the formation of fat deposits. Even children can develop fatty liver from too much sugar intake, similar to what alcoholics get. It can be an early sign of metabolic syndrome, a whole host of diseases: diabetes, cardiovascular disease, stroke, and obesity.

Ten percent of all people in Germany already have type 2 diabetes mellitus. And 30 percent have fatty liver disease.

Fructose hidden in many foods

Nevertheless, more and more products are being sweetened with fructose - ketchup, ready meals, sauces or mueslis, for example. The word "fruit" makes the sugar seem harmless. That is why some manufacturers advertise it. But fructose is not lower in calories or healthier than normal sugar. Sometimes the fructose is not shown at all. There is currently no special labeling requirement for fructose. For people with fructose intolerance, this can lead to health problems.

Even thin people should eat little sugar

The biggest misconceptions about sugar

Dextrose makes you fit, fructose does no harm and honey is healthier than sugar - many think. But is that true? Much of what we think we know about sugar is wrong. more

Is it okay to just keep eating sugar as long as you don't get fat? Not necessarily, because the insulin balance can also be disturbed in slim people. Whoever consumes a lot of sugar, especially fructose, does not necessarily have to gain body size.

There are also so-called thick thin ones. You are slim on the outside. But with them, the internal organs are then coated with unhealthy layers of fat. About fifteen percent of all type 2 diabetics are slim. They too can hit the secondary diseases, including cancer.

There is more sugar in juices and smoothies than fruit

Grapes contain so much fructose that they should almost be considered candy.

Many people particularly underestimate the sugar content of fruit juices and smoothies. Some smoothies even contain more sugar than cola, depending on the type of fruit. Because they consist of fruits in a highly concentrated form with their natural sugar content. But you can't eat as much fruit as there are in juices or smoothies. During the pureeing process, the fiber in the fruit is also destroyed, so that the sugar gets into the blood very quickly.

If you eat fruit instead of drinking juice, you will therefore consume less grape and fructose. In addition, fruit is more difficult to digest than juice. The glucose is absorbed into the blood more slowly and the insulin level rises correspondingly more slowly.

Smoothies, like sweets, are best enjoyed in moderation or, even better, eat fruit whole instead. But also some types of fruit, such as seedless grapes, prefer to eat them in moderation because they contain a lot of sugar. You can almost think of them as candy. In berries, on the other hand, such as raspberries or blueberries, the sugar content is lower.

Sugar as a drug

Sweet tastes sell well, which is why almost all ready-made meals contain sugar as a flavor enhancer. It also serves as a cheap filler in the food industry. But sugar stimulates the same regions in the brain as alcohol or nicotine. There is some evidence that sugar can be addicting. Scientists around the world are researching the topic. There are also studies that deal with the question of whether sugar might promote the development of cancer and whether a sugar-free diet helps against the disease.

How Much Sugar is Unhealthy?

The WHO recommends avoiding sugar

  • Absolutely: to reduce the consumption of additional sugar for a lifetime.
  • Important: additional sugar should make up less than 10 percent of the daily amount of energy in children and adults. The upper limit should be 50 grams.
  • Optional: a further reduction in sugar consumption to less than 5 percent of the daily amount of energy consumed. With almost 2,000 kilocalories that would be 25 grams.

The maximum amount of so-called free sugar recommended by the World Health Organization is ideally no more than 25 grams per day. That's about six teaspoons. Free sugar means added sugar.

So it's not just about the lump of sugar with which coffee is sweetened, but about all the types of sugar that we consume during the day via fruit yogurt, ready-made meals, ketchup, muesli or jam. Foods with a natural sugar content - such as milk - are not included.

Statistically speaking, every year everyone should eat a maximum of nine kilograms of free sugar - but we actually have 34 kilograms of white sugar, nine kilograms of added sugar in the form of syrup, glucose and fructose and one kilogram of honey - a total of around 44 kilograms of sugar per capita and year take to us.

Hidden sugar in finished products

Many finished products and fast food contain plenty of sugar. For example, there are six pieces of sugar in a frozen salami pizza, 39 pieces of sugar in a so-called fitness muesli or 9 pieces in a pack of potato salad from the refrigerated shelf. A lot of sugar is not only found in sweets, but also in many savory foods: real sugar bombs are, for example, red cabbage from the glass with 25 sugar cubes per 700 grams or a fruit yogurt with 8 sugar cubes per 200 grams - as well as 100 grams of cornflakes with 12 sugar cubes.

In processed foods, sugar is often used as a chemical binder, preservative or as a compensation for low-fat light products. Because if there is little fat in it, the product does not taste good, which is why the manufacturers add sugar. The label "reduced sugar content" only means that there is 30 percent less sugar in a product than in comparable products. That is why you should pay attention to the absolute quantities in the list of ingredients. The hints "only with natural sweetness", "without added sugar" or "100 percent fruit" hide the fact that the products contain a lot of sugar.

Pay attention to the labeling

If you want to do without sugar, you have to look carefully: The food industry likes to hide sugar behind many different names in the lists of ingredients:

  • Glucose
  • Fructose
  • Sugar (table sugar contains glucose and fructose in a ratio of 1: 1)
  • Saccarose and sucrose are other names for table sugar
  • Maple syrup
  • Whey powder
  • Corn syrup
  • Isoglucose (can contain up to 90 percent fructose)
  • Glucose-fructose syrup (fructose content below 50 percent)
  • Fructose-glucose syrup (fructose content between 50 and 90 percent)
  • Lactose, maltose, malt extract

Fructose, fructose syrup or fructose-glucose syrup are particularly common in lemonades, puddings, juices, muesli and ready-made meals.

Alternative sweeteners: Expensive sugar

"Alternative sweeteners" such as maple syrup, agave or pear syrup and apple sweetness also consist largely of sugar and often contain large amounts of fructose. They offer more minerals, but hardly fewer calories and are significantly more expensive than sugar. Just like coconut blossom sugar, which is obtained from the juice of the coconut blossom and contains 70 to 90 percent sucrose, i.e. table sugar. However, there is evidence that blood sugar levels rise a little more slowly after consuming coconut blossom sugar. The same applies to isomaltulose.

Yacon sugar, which is made from the Peruvian yacon root, unlike conventional sugar, consists not only of two building blocks, but of a longer chain of molecules. So it belongs more to the dietary fiber. Accordingly, although it contains only half as many calories of sugar, it is also less sweet.

The biggest misconceptions about sugar

Dextrose makes you fit, fructose does no harm and honey is healthier than sugar - many think. But is that true? Much of what we think we know about sugar is wrong. more

This topic in the program:

45 min | 06/16/2020 | 8:15 pm