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BITTER SWEET [continue]

In our previous post we talk about;
Just try to say no to sugar: It’s ubiquitous and addictive – and irresistible, and our waistlines?

Fredric Brandt, a dermatologist in New York City and Miami, believes so strongly in the dangers of sugar that he has significantly reduced his own intake. “Although smoking, it’s probably up there in the top thing that causes damage to your skin,” he says. Glycation’s effects on the sin can easily be seen with a special complexion-analysis camera. But by the light of day, those effects are not as dramatic, and that leads some doctors to dismiss their impact. Dermatologist Heidi Waldorf suggests we’d be better off directing our energies elsewhere. “Yes, glycation is a real biological process, but I have never seen anyone who I could tell was getting too much sugar from looking at her skin. I’d much rather my patients drive themselves crazy over sunblock and not smoking,” she says.

One thing you don’t need a special camera to see is pimples, and new evidence suggests that sugar is causing those, too. A 2013 study analyzed 50 years’ worth of data on acne and diet and found that eating foods with a high glycemic index – those that quickly raise blood – sugar levels – can trigger hormonal fluctuations that cause can by stimulating the production of sebum. Noted offenders are white bread, pizza, and bagels.BITTER SWEET2

“There are two fundamental problems with fructose: what it does to your body and what it does to your brain.”

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Rarely will you see the word “sugar” on an ingredient list at the grocery store, since the sweet stuff comes in myriad of varieties and goes by 56 different names. Be it maltose, lactose, dextrose, or evaporated cane juice, it can make us overeat by amping up the palatability of foods, and then overeat again when it leaves us craving more. But the loudest debate over sugar is probably the one focused on fructose, a molecule found in fruits and vegetables and the defining ingredient in high-fructose corn syrup, the factory-made sweetener in everything from tonic water to frozen pizza that critics accuse of almost single-handedly widening America’s waistbands. High-fructose corn syrup is sweeter and less expensive than table sugar, and it extends the shelf life of foods at the grocery store. This means manufacturers have taken to it like the fashion world to Cara Delevingne, adding the syrup to traditionally unsweetened foods simply because it’s tasty and cheap then overeat again when it leaves us craving more. But the loudest debate over sugar is probably the one focused on fructose, a molecule found in fruits and vegetables and the defining ingredient in high – fructose corn syrup, the factory – made sweetener in everything from tonic water to frozen pizza that critics accuse of almost single –handedly widening America’s waistbands. High – fructose corn syrup is sweeter and less expensive than table sugar, and it extends the shelf life of foods at the grocery store. This earns manufacturers have taken to it like the fashion world to Cara Delevigne, adding syrup to traditionally unsweetened food simply because I’s tasty and cheap.

There are two fundamental problems with fructose: what it does to your body and what it does to your brain. While we burn glucose for energy in almost every cell in the body, “fructose is not essential for any physiological function that we know of”. Says Luc Tappy, a researcher at the University of Lausanne in Switzerland. (For women, at least, it does have one vital function for men: the production of semen). Fructose can only be metabolized by the liver, where it is converted to, among other things, fat. That fat can build up in the liver and is released into the bloodstream in the form of triglycerides, high levels of which have been linked to heart disease, diabetes, and metabolic syndrome (a precursor of these conditions). After just 12 days on diet of fructose – sweetened drinks, adults in one study had increased levels of both triglycerides and cholesterol, which can lead to heart disease. Participants who drank glucose – sweetened beverage did not.

The other problem with fructose is how it communicates with the brain, which, as it turns out, is not very well at all. When tests subjects at Yale University drank a beverage sweetened only with glucose, they reported feeling satisfied. But when they were given the same amount of a fructose – sweetened drink, they remained hungry. This may be because fructose doesn’t stimulate appetite – suppressing hormones that tell your brain to stop drinking. As lead researcher Kathleen Page explains it, “You may consume more and more because it tastes good but doesn’t make you full”.

But the case against fructose isn’t a lock. “One of the problems with some of this data is that [the studies] were done on very high intakes of fructose, which most people wouldn’t consume,” says Rachel Johnson, who chairs the American Heart Association’s nutrition committee. In one study published in Nutrition and Metabolism, moderate fructose consumption – 10 percent of daily calories – was found to have no ill effects. But what can’t be denied is that fructose, in large doses, is not good for you. “Fructose definitely raises blood – fat levels more than glucose. That’s been shown by multiple researchers, “says Miriam Vos. A pediatric liver specialist at Emory University in Atlanta.

At this point, you might be tempted to take matters into your own hands and permanently give up sugar. Good luck with that: Not only is our taste for sugar innate, but for some of us it borders on addiction. Sugar has been found t release dopamine in an area of the brain associated with reward and reinforcement in animal studies, says Nicole Avena, an assistant professor of psychiatry at the New York Obesity research Center at Columbia University and the author of Why Diets Fail (Because You’re Addicted to Sugar) ( Ten Speed Press). “With most foods, dopamine is only released every time.” Avena says. “That’s one of the hallmarks of drug abuse.” While a salted caramel isn’t exactly heroin – “Drugs affect dopamine and other systems much more powerfully.” She notes – when plied with sugar, rats demonstrate behavior such as craving, bingeing, and withdrawal. They will even run across an electrified grid to get their fix.

Someone who does liken sugar to a drug is Lustig. Four years ago he posted a provocative video on YouTube called sugar: The Bitter Truth,” which since been viewed almost 4 million times. Among his followers it is an article f faith that, in addition to all the problems sugar may crate – making us fat, taking the place of nutrients we need to thrive – the molecules itself is poisoning us. Lustig cites as evidence his study showing that in countries where sugar is more readily available, diabetes rates have continued to climb even when the population is not putting on weight. This means sugar may not be just the cofactor in that illness – it may be the factor. “Sugar,”as he likes to say emphatically, “is evil.” When I tell him that Elizabeth Seaquist, the president of the American Diabetes Association, categorically disputes that point, things start to get heated. “I would love to debate her in a forum, because I would take her apart limb from limb,” he says.

If there’s a demilitarized zone in the sugar wars, a place where everyone can come together and have a glass of unsweetened iced tea, it’s the idea that we simply need to eat less of it. “At the end of the day, added sugars don’t do anything except add calories and displace other nutritious foods,” says Johnson. The American Heart Association, the only U.S advisory body to recommend a firm limit on sugar consumption, says women should get no more than six teaspoons, or 24 grams, of added sugars per day, which is to say one black cherry fruit – on – the –bottom yogurt. Kind of bleak, right?

While nutrition labels don’t differentiate between added sugars and naturally occurring ones, a good rule of thumb is that if the food doesn’t contain milk (lactose) or fruit (fructose), any sugar is probably added, whether it comes in a container labeled “cookies” or a jar labeled “pasta sauce”.” An astonishing 70 percent of the added sugar that Americans consume comes from processed foods, according to the Center for Diseases Control and Prevention’s latest National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, and a lot of those foods don’t even taste sweet. Bread, ketchup, crackers – all are examples of savory foods that are sweetened to make them taste better, look better, or last longer.

But trying to avoid high – fructose corn syrup may not be the answer, since for all its bad press; this sweetener usually contains only a little more fructose (around five percent) than table sugar. “It’s very possible that fructose is doing the most harm, but I talk to my patients about sugar in general, since both glucose and fructose come together in most foods,” says Vos. Ironically, one sweetener that many consumers believe is best for them – agave – is made primarily from fructose. “It’s promoted as a healthy alternative. Unfortunately, it may be worse, since you’re getting the calories but not feeling satisfied, “says Page.

The effective ways to lower your sugar intake are neither new nor exciting, but they can do you good. First, don’t drink your calories. “We have randomized controlled clinical trials linking sugar – sweetened beverages to obesity, so that’s pretty much a slam dunk,” says Johnson. Not only do sugary drinks contain a ridiculous amount of sugar – a small sweetened cappuccino from Dunkin Donuts has 24 grams, your entire day allowance according to the American Heart Association – but liquid calories don’t make us feel full the way food calories do, meaning you’ll probably end up eating more later.

Second, eat real food –i.e., the kind that you make, instead of just removing it from a package. This is possible, if slightly more time – consuming. In the name of science, I replace my presweetened instant oatmeal with plain oatmeal sweetened by hand with brown sugar. Instead f the three –plus –teaspoons of sugar that comes in the pre made stuff, I was able to make mine perfectly sweet with just one. I’ve also started looking at labels, and not just the calories. Ingredients are listed by weight, so avoid anything in which sugar is one of the first three ingredients. Also look out for different sugars sprinkled on the ingredient list. A good rule of thumb is that if it ends in “ose”, its sugar.

According to a surprising array of the scientific minds, however, there’s no need to cut it out completely. “Sweetness is part of the pleasure of life,” says Vos. Even Lustig said I could have my Twizzlers as long as everything else I ate that day was free of added sugars. On a recent Saturday, I was at brunch at a Brooklyn restaurant when I spotted something called savory oatmeal on the menu. It was oats topped with bok choy and other vegetables, and many companions ordered it and pronounced it good. I smiled politely as I cut into my brioche French toast. We have to make choices, but we also have to live.
Source: Allure Magazine

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