The harm refined sugar can do

The danger of excessive overconsumption

Sugar is the word that people use daily to describe the sweetening chemical compound that is widely used in many products. Compared with other countries, the Dutch are among those who consume the most sweets with an annual consumption of 31 kilos of sweets, cookies and chocolate per person. And then we haven’t begun to consider the packs of sugar, soft drinks and many food ingredients in which sugar is processed. That there are many drawbacks to sugar consumption, apart from teeth decay, is no longer a point of discussion. What relatively few people realize is that excessive sugar consumption is linked to many disorders that can have a devastating effect on the whole body.

What is refined sugar?

What is the difference between refined and unrefined sugar? Unrefined sugar is sugar in its natural form: it has not been ‘cleaned’ in the manufacturing process. Sugar is cleaned to make it white, giving it a neutral taste and long shelf life. In the refining process all sorts of substances are removed from the sugar that your body needs to digest sugar. White sugar no longer contains any good substances.

Unrefined sugar contains all sorts of fibre, minerals, enzymes and vitamins. Your body needs these substances to digest sugar properly. All these ‘good’ substances are removed from sugar during refining, which means that your body has to draw on its own reserves. Your body actually stores these substances for, among other processes, a well-functioning immune system. When you eat refined sugar, your body has to use its reserves of these substances to process the sugar. This can weaken your immune system. Moreover withdrawing these substances from the body can confuse all sorts of other bodily processes, such as hormone regulation. 

The most important harms

  • Increased risk of deficiencies in minerals and vitamins; in particular magnesium, zinc, copper, chromium, calcium, manganese and vitamin B are compromised. 
  • Increased risk of overweight.
  • Causes tooth decay.
  • Has an inhibitory effect on the immune system.
  • Has a negative effect on intestinal flora (good intestinal flora) resulting in even lower resistance.
  • Increases blood pressure.
  • Increases the risk of cardiovascular disease. If sugar is not needed in the form of blood glucose (blood sugar), it is converted into fat and that is saturated fat.
  • Saturated fat increases the level of cholesterol in the blood.
  • Sugar is composed of glucose (grape sugar) and fructose (fruit sugar). Both can bind proteins in the body, a process called glycosylation.
  • This causes tissue aging, increasing the risk of cardiovascular disease and complications in diabetes (e.g. eye complaints), and it means we get older quicker.
  • In people with fructose intolerance, excessive fructose causes an increase in the uric acid level, which can lead to gout. For people with gout fructose is therefore generally not recommended as a pure sweetener.
  • Glucose may increase the risk of mutations in our DNA, which may increase the risk of cancer.
  • It influences the blood glucose increase, to which our body responds by producing extra insulin. The insulin hormone lowers the blood glucose again, but also stimulates the formation of fat in our body. If the blood glucose level fluctuates regularly, it can cause complaints: the hypoglycaemic syndrome.
  • Problems with concentration, dizziness, and an enormous need for sweet foods are some of the complaints occurring in the syndrome. Also in diabetes it increases the wild variation in the blood glucose level. It may precipitate cardiovascular disease and other complications. Pure glucose (grape sugar) gives a rapid blood sugar rise and fructose (fruit sugar) a slow rise. Sugar (that is sugar beet and cane sugar) provokes an increase between the two.
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