How the Body And Brain Reacts to Sugar

by Christopher Paul on June 7, 2011

The debate about HFCS still rages. But why? Why is this sugar singled out? Lifehacker has a decent explanation that sums up the science behind it. I’ll quote a bit but you should certainly read the whole thing. Remember, there are two types of sugars that make up the common sweeter we usually call sugar, glucose and fructose. Combine the two in equal amounts and you have sucrose (or evaporated cane juice, or whatever).

“There are many processes involved when you consume glucose, but one that occurs in your liver produces something called Very Low Density Lipoprotein (or VLDL). You don’t want VLDL. It causes problems (like cardiovascular disease). Fortunately, only about 1 out of 24 calories from glucose that are processed by the liver turn into VLDL. If glucose were the only thing you ate that produced VLDL, it would be a non-issue.

For our purposes, high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) and sucrose are the same thing because they’re both highly sweet and they both contain a large amount of fructose. Sucrose is 50% fructose and HFCS is 55% fructose (which is high compared to normal corn syrup, but pretty normal when compared to cane sugar)… In most cases, fructose is bad for you because of how it’s processed by the body. Fructose can only be metabolized by the liver, which is not a good thing. This means a greater number of calories—about three times more than glucose—are going through liver processes and that results in a much higher production of VLDL (the bad cholesterol mentioned earlier) and fat. It also results in a higher production of uric acid and a lot of other things you don’t want, which is believed to lead to fun stuff like hypertension and high blood pressure.”

The article also says that the brain reacts differently when the body consumes glucose vs fructose. When it detects, glucose, the brain sends signals to stop eating but doesn’t do that when it encounters fructose. It also talks about why fruit is better for you (it has the sugar and fiber (which makes you feel full) while processed sugar doesn’t have the same way to shut off the urge to eat.

Like I said, you should read the whole post at Lifehacker. And you should watch the video that inspired the post for more information.

What Sugar Actually Does to Your Brain and Body – Lifehacker

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