I believe the media needs to stay the hell out of educating (or mis-educating) the public…
Total geek out alert! This is going to be VERY science-y.
Ok, so you all know that I tend to bristle when the media interferes with how the public is educated about nutrition AND the fact that sugar is, across the board, vilified as something that needs to be totally banished from the diet because it is essentially the cause for everything from cancer to nuclear proliferation, right?
When I found this infographic I laughed until my sides split because there were so many glaringly overstated (and false) claims made.
TWO of these issues are about sugar.
The 20 minute mark is the one I will be ranting about.
The infographic shows that your blood sugar spikes causing an insulin burst. It says at this point your liver turns any sugar it can get its hands on into fat. This is a dramatic overstatement.
Before I go further, let me state, I do not believe anyone should be drinking Coke or other cola drinks or any drink with which you can clean your toilet bowl with any regularity but back to my point.
Assuming you hadn’t eaten ANYTHING else containing sugar that day, your liver would get precious little of that sugar to store ANYWAY. Even if you had, however, the point I am trying to make is the insulin is not the issue (though forcing insulin to release over and over as happens with a high sugar diet can contribute to insulin resistance), it is how to liver processes the fructose present in the “sugar” in coke (which is actually in the form of HFCS, fructose heavy anyway). When sucrose and HFCS is broken down, it is broken down into glucose and fructose. Glucose is what is utilized by the cells immediately. It is what the brain utilizes to signal satiation (Insulin is the key that ushers glucose into cells). Of course, if you are eating a diet very high in sugar and not running a marathon, your body cannot utilize all the glucose and whatever is left over WILL be stored as fat but, if all you are drinking is ONE can of Coke, it’s not going to be the death knell of your diet.
So the liver processes the fructose for later use. The fructose in one can of Coke would go to your glycogen stores (which are not technically your fat cells) in your liver and your muscles so that when glucose is all used up, your body can access your glycogen stores. If you have eat a diet with heavy in protein and non-starchy veggies, a reasonable amount of fruit, and a little starchy carbs (which, aside from potatoes, breaks down into mostly glucose) your body is, for the most part, going to know how to break that down, utilize what it needs to utilize and store for later what it doesn’t use.
If your liver is not processing fructose efficiently (fructose malabsorption) this can be a problem so it is important, before you go drinking just a ton of Coke or anything else high in HFCS (or, for that matter, eating a great deal of anything that breaks down into fructose, including fruit) that you make sure you are processing fructose properly. If your liver is congested, fructose absorption can be impaired, as well. This can cause aggravation of SIBO (small intestine bacterial overgrowth) and candida along with digestive issues such as bloating and gas. It can contribute to weight gain but, please understand, you need to bombard your body with a fair amount of fructose that it can’t break down (20% of your calories or more) before the average person will begin to have issues.
If you give your body the 12 hours it needs at night to fully detox and use up what it has stored and you start all over again at breakfast, one can of coke is not the absolute worst thing you could do, especially if you forgo fruit and dessert. Your body will know how to break it down.
Again, it’s not the best thing you could do for your body but this post is in the interest of science.
Ok, I have gotten way off track.
The point I am trying to make is the vilification of sugar thanks to the media is overstated and unscientific. Of course a high sugar diet will catch up to you if you aren’t exercising or moving your body because your body simply cannot use all the “energy molecules” you are putting into it. That’s it.
9-10 teaspoons of sugar (for a woman) is about all you really can utilize during any given day (and that goes up slightly if you are a heavy trainer) and it is better to get that in nutrient dense delicious foods like fruit and starches and the occasional dessert like custard or a decadent flourless chocolate brownie, perhaps.
But if, on a hot day, a can of Coke happens to pass your lips, you needn’t run screaming to the scales.
Wishing you health, wellness, & beauty,