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The sweet (and bitter) truth about the effects of sugar

You don’t necessarily have to eat something sweet to consume sugar, experts reveal.

The sweet (and bitter) truth about the effects of sugar

Spaghetti sauce, sports drinks, catsup, barbecue sauce, yoghurt, and flavored coffees are among the food and drinks that are high in sugar. Even non-sweet carbohydrates like pasta, bread, rice, oatmeal, corn, peas, and potatoes become glucose once they are processed by the body. 

Sugar sources are everywhere. 

At optimal levels, glucose is excellent fuel for the body. In addition to the energy it gives a person to perform a wide range of movements, red blood cells depend on it to produce energy; the liver stores glucose then distributes it to the muscles and cells to maintain ideal blood sugar levels; and the brain’s neurons require glucose constantly to do their job—from thinking and remembering to absorbing information. 

But what happens when an individual has too much—or too little—glucose? 

During a meal, eaten food travels from esophagus to the stomach, where acids and enzymes break it down, and glucose is produced. From there, glucose is absorbed by intestines then goes straight to the bloodstream. Insulin released from the pancreas helps glucose enter the cells in our body. 

“Blood sugar is at its lowest before a meal. It increases during a meal then dips once insulin transports glucose to the cells,” says May Sison, MD, head doctor of the Diabetes Care Center of Makati Medical Center. “When you’re not eating, normal blood sugar is less than 100 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dl).”

Hunger, the doctor says, is not the only sign of low blood sugar, which is around 70 mg/dl or less. “Cold sweat, dizziness, nervousness, and in extreme cases, confusion, are other telltale signs.”

Conversely, high blood sugar (for a person without diabetes, it’s more than 100 mg/dl when fasting and more than 140 mg/dl two hours after eating) manifests in excessive urination, frequent hunger and thirst, weight loss, and the tingling “pins and needles” sensation on the arms, hands, legs, and feet. 

“High blood sugar also increases your risk of heart disease and stroke, kidney disease, eye disease, and nerve damage,” informs Dr. Sison. 

How to maintain ideal blood sugar levels 

Aside from keeping tabs on blood sugar levels through regular checkups, healthy lifestyle practices also help manage doctor-recommended levels. 

“Consume a diet of fruits and vegetables, schedule daily moderate exercise, and stick to your ideal weight,” advises Dr. Sison. 

The sweet (and bitter) truth about the effects of sugar
Eating too much sugar may result in high blood sugar level which increases the risk of heart disease and stroke. 
She adds, “Practicing good food choices also keeps your blood sugar levels within an acceptable range. Don’t skip meals. Drink water instead of juice or soft drinks. Eat fruits instead of candy. And watch not only how much you eat but what you put on your plate: make sure it contains protein-rich food and non-starchy vegetables, too.”

Topics: sugar , May Sison , Diabetes Care Center , Makati Medical Center
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