A layman’s understanding
As well as to fill our stomachs and to enjoy the pleasures of eating, we eat to obtain energy. In this quest, we also consume different kinds of sugars, not all of which are recognizable as what you’d think of as sugar. But how do we get that energy in a healthy manner? Blood sugar is another piece of the puzzle regarding how our bodies work.
What is blood sugar?
First, let’s start with a workable definition of blood sugar. From Answers.com we get:
Blood Sugar: sugar in the form of glucose in the blood.
Chemical terms that end in -ose indicate that they are sugar of one kind of another, such as lactose (milk sugar), sucrose (the chemical word for that white refined stuff called table sugar) and fructose (the primary sugar in fruit).
Further, as Answers.com has it:
Maintaining a stable blood glucose concentration is necessary in order to keep it high enough to ensure normal functioning of the brain, whilst also preventing the harmful consequences which can arise when the concentration is too high.
So, it’s clear that we do need sugars although, as you can guess, not all sugars are the type that give you a "sugar high" and, in fact, some are not recognizable as sugar-imparting at all.
Blood sugar and energy
How does consuming the different kinds of sugars affect one’s health? Well, our bodies need energy to do things. However, some sugars are better than others.
How fast sugars enter the bloodstream from the small intestine can vary from person to person. The small intestine is the upper part of the intestine, just after the stomach, where your body pulls the glucose and other sugars and nutrients out of the food or drink and into the blood stream.
Some sugars, such as the green plant foods, release more slowly into the blood stream than others. Other sugars enter the blood stream quickly, giving one a feeling of "pep" — but, just as rapidly, one sags. This "pep and sag" cycle occurs most pronouncedly when one consumes foods containing sucrose (refined sugar) such as candy or high fructose soda pop.
Greens: If you eat green plants, you are eating sugar and starch, which are called carbohydrates, as well as other nutrients. Sugar entering the blood stream slowly, such as from green plants, gives energy for a longer time.
Fructose (fruit sugar), in its natural form (meaning unrefined or unprocessed — say, from eating an apple or a banana), enters the blood stream at a speed somewhere between the slow green plants and the very fast refined sugar. Sugar from unprocessed fruit gives energy, but it doesn’t last as long as green plant sugar. An example of processed fruit sugar would be canned fruit with "sugar" added into the syrup. It’s usually the sugar that gives one the pep and sag cycle.
Refined sugar: Sugar from fructose or refined sugar, such as from table sugar, baking sugar, candy or soda pop, gives us fast-reacting energy — but then one has to deal with the post-sugar crash or sag. And, since table sugar has been processed to the point where it is devoid of vitamins and minerals, the body has to use its reserves of nutrients, vitamins and minerals, to deal with the negative effects of processed sugar. Therefore, eating a lot of processed sugar can create nutritional problems and then health problems.
Health and the body’s effort to deal with sugar
The body has a system that it uses to deal with blood sugar in order to keep one on an even keel. Roughly speaking, it uses the pancreas, an organ in your body, to produce insulin, as well as the adrenal and thyroid glands, to regulate your blood sugar.
However, processed sugar overworks the pancreas — even in little babies and children!
Consuming too much processed sugar. Over time, the insulin produced by a pancreas overworked (because, for example, one is consuming too much processed sugar in one’s breakfast, lunch and dinner and snacks) becomes ineffective or too little and the person has to obtain more insulin from other sources — because the blood sugar must be regulated.
The disease label one is given is called diabetes. From Answers.com:
Diabetes mellitus is a condition in which the pancreas no longer produces enough insulin or when cells stop responding to the insulin that is produced, so that glucose in the blood cannot be absorbed into the cells of the body.
If you eat refined sugar, especially a lot of refined sugar, it can open the door to all kinds of physical illnesses, such as heart disease, diabetes, kidney disease, liver disease; it can shorten your life span.
Hypoglycemia. The opposite of diabetes is hypoglycemia — not enough sugar in one’s system. I prefer to think of hypoglycemia as not eating enough during the day.
More on refined sugar
Let it not be said that refined sugar is not a great food preservative! That means processed food will last longer on the shelf. Also, when food is highly processed, the nutrients are taken out of the food, which can also add up to longer shelf life because the things that can go bad or spoil — the nutrients — have been drastically cut down. When you eat these types of foods, you tend to want to eat more because you haven’t yet filled your body’s nutritional needs, so you overeat. That’s one reason why one should stay away from highly processed foods — otherwise, you might end up in the long run with ruined health.
Sugar and Body Fat
Let’s replay what happens when you jolt your body with too much sugar at one time. Remember that the pancreas trots out a bunch of insulin in order to regulate the blood sugar level … but one more thing happens: it turns the food you’ve eaten with the sugar into fat which it stores somewhere on your body. So, you may get that pep from the sugar, but the price you pay over time is overweight and potential physical illnesses, as I stated above.
I like to eat five meals a day. That way I stay on an even keel, and I’m not obese.
When I do eat refined sugar, I will also eat some saturated fat, like a spoonful of coconut oil, along with some protein from meat. The saturated fat and protein slow down the refined sugar, or any sugar for that matter, from entering the bloodstream too fast.
I tend to avoid refined sugars and I eat all kinds of organic fruit and organic green leaf vegetables, as well as other organic veggies, with my natural meats. I look for the steaks with the most saturated fat I can get. Contrary to what is promoted and taught about them, saturated fats are necessary in one’s diet and are not the cause of people putting on weight.
Rather, insulin turns energy to fat which is then stored in the body somewhere. What causes one’s body to produce insulin? Sugar, especially refined sugar.
- See also Hypoglycemia – Low Blood Sugar
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