The Not-So-Sweet History of Sugar Part II

fruit sugar types of sugar in spoons imageToday, the average American consumes 22.7 teaspoons of sugar each day:

  • 11.6 Tsp. of white granulated sugar
  • 8.2 Tsp. of high-fructose corn syrup
  • 3 Tsp. of other sugars (honey, molasses, maple syrup)

While you might find it hard to believe we could consume so much sugar, it is well hidden in processed foods, breads, fruits juices and healthy snacks.

In 1980, 153 million people worldwide had diabetes. Today, 347 million people worldwide have diabetes!

Interestingly, fat makes up a significantly smaller percentage of the American diet than it did 20 years ago. Meanwhile, the intake of sugar has steadily risen and America has gotten fatter and fatter.

While sugar is our new poison linked to numerous chronic health issues, processed sugar is even worse. Americans consume more than half the world’s supply of high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS), which is a processed sugar linked to weight gain, cardiovascular issues, cognitive issues and more.

Research on the woes of HFCS has lead scientists to understand more about the difference between sucrose and fructose. Sucrose, or white table sugar, has glucose which the body, muscles, and brain can readily use. Fructose has a different story and needs to be understood.

Some 22 million years ago, apes in Africa lived on fruits picked right off the trees. Around 17 million years ago, the earth cooled and ice caps grew larger, leaving land bridges where the nomadic apes could migrate north.

As the earth cooled, fruit trees were replaced with deciduous trees, and soon what is now Europe and Asia was filled with starving apes. At some point, an intelligent genetic mutation occurred that allowed the apes to store fructose as fat to endure the long winters, rather than burn it quickly as food and energy. Many of these apes migrated back into Africa passing the fructose storing gene to the original African apes and possibly enabling them to forage for new sources of food other than fruit.

According to scientists, this mutation was so powerful that only the apes with the mutation survived to become our ancestors. Today, we carry this same gene, which has made high-fructose corn syrup our new poison.

Bottom Line

Fruit sugar, or fructose, will not be quickly used as fuel for the body if it is ingested with other energy sources like starches. The body will quickly burn the carbs and do its best to store the fructose as fat as part of our survival genetics.

Interestingly, Ayurveda has always suggested that fruit be eaten alone, in which case if the fructose is the meal’s only nutritional source, it will be used as a fuel and energy supply.

So, next time you pour yourself a bowl of granola with fruit on it, consider that the fructose in that fruit will likely not make it as a fuel supply and be stored as some unsightly survival fuel – belly fat!

Don’t get me wrong… It is not that fruit is bad, it is just that fruit in combination with other foods very well may be prioritized into survival fat or stored energy.

 

Source:
National Geographic (Cover Story) Sugar Love. August 2013

 


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