We all suspect that this tasty little molecule has properties detrimental to health but do we know why and how? Before exploring this we should start with a disclaimer that any dietary alterations should really be made under professional guidance, and that some sugar is necessary for survival as it serves as a basic food source for cells.
HOWEVER too much sugar, or consistent ingestion of sugar can cause elevations in insulin levels, as insulin is a hormone secreted in response to elevated sugar levels that enables uptake of sugar into cells.
When insulin is routinely high, the body starts to become desensitised to its effects and a state of insulin resistance (IR) can occur. IR can be a precursor to diabetes, and signifies inability of cells to uptake and utilise sugar. Consequently the body essentially becomes starved of sugar as an energy source causing symptoms of fatigue, irritability, hunger, thirst and increased urination. In extreme circumstances the disease can progress to effect all of our body systems and may be associated with coma and death.
On a chronic level, when sugar is resultantly high in the blood stream (where it remains when it cannot be uptaken by cells); it undergoes a process of ‘glycation’ which is essentially attachment of a sugar molecule to different proteins in the body. This causes formation of harmful end products and is exacerbated by cooking at high temperatures. Glycation distorts the natural function of proteins in the body that comprise all body systems, resulting in significant heart, eye, brain, kidney, liver, vascular effects i.e. it is a whole-of-body condition. In terms of skin, glycation of collagen can cause thinning of skin. Furthermore under these conditions skin may become more inflammatory (think rosacea and acne), take longer to heal, and appear lacklustre.