Need another reason to avoid consuming too much sugar? The reaction of sugar with amino acids creates a complex group of compounds called advanced glycation end products (AGEs) are formed. Glycation is one of the major molecular mechanisms whereby damage accrues in your body, which leads to disease and aging.
The accumulation of AGEs in your body induces effects similar to that of oxidation, leading to chronic disease and, eventually, death. A significant amount of evidence reveals that AGEs are associated with disorders related to aging, including but not limited to cardiovascular disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and diabetes.
When glycation occurs inside your body, inflammation occurs, activating your immune system. Macrophages or scavenger cells from your immune system possess a receptor called RAGEs. RAGEs eliminate AGEs by binding to them. This process, although successful in eliminating AGEs, can inflict damage in your body by forming scar tissues called plaque inside your arteries.
Sugar Consumption Can Affect Your Longevity
Among all the molecules capable of damaging your body, sugar is the most dangerous. Fructose, a particular kind of sugar, can induce inflammation and influence the creation of AGEs. Fructose can also cause the growth of fat around your vital organs, including your heart, liver, and digestive organs. In effect, your risk of contracting heart disease and diabetes rises.
Your insulin and leptin levels also increase with excessive sugar or fructose consumption. Eating sugar decreases your receptor sensitivity for these hormones, which is a major factor for premature aging and age-related chronic illnesses.
Dr. Joseph Mercola reveals that the average American actually consumes 2.5 pounds of sugar a week. This high-carb diet is filled with foods such as white bread, sugar, pasta, pastries, cookies, and candy, which are all broken down to sugar inside your body. This explains why Americans have such poor health.
To understand better the negative effects of a high-carb diet, you can check out this infographic titled Why We Get Fat (link), created by science writer Gary Taubes.
Fructose vs. Glucose
It is important to take note that not all sugars are the same. There are differences in how your body processes varieties of sugar. Your body gains weight at a faster rate when you eat fructose than when you eat glucose.
To help you understand the major differences between fructose and glucose, as well as to discover the dangers associated with the fructose, below is a summary of their metabolic properties:
- When consuming glucose, your liver has to break down only 20 percent of it. On the other hand, the burden of metabolizing fructose rests on your liver. During this process, a long list of waste products and toxins, including uric acid, is produced. This triggers your “fat switch,” which contributes to weight gain.
- Because every cell in your body utilizes glucose, this type of sugar is “burned up” after being consumed. Fructose, by contrast, is converted into free fatty acids (FFAs), VLDL (unhealthy form of cholesterol), and triglycerides – all of which are stored as fat.
- The fatty acids produced during fructose metabolism accumulate in your liver and skeletal muscle tissues, which causes insulin resistance and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). Moreover, insulin resistance can progress to metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes.
- Fructose is converted to activated glycerol (g-3-p), which is used to turn FFAs into triglycerides. More of this means more fat is stored. Glucose, conversely, does not do this.
- Consuming 120 calories of fructose, 40 calories is automatically stored as fat, while only one calorie is stored as fat upon eating 120 calories of glucose.
- Glucose suppresses your hunger hormone ghrelin and stimulates the production of leptin, your satiety hormone. Fructose can interfere with your leptin sensitivity and does nothing to affect your ghrelin levels. This results in overeating.
Limiting Your Fructose Intake Can Lead to Better Health
Studies have proven that a decrease in consumption of foods with AGEs can lead to an increased lifespan in animal subjects. According to one paper (link):
“… [T]he data are supportive that endogenous AGEs are associated with declining organ functioning. It appears that dietary AGEs may also be related.
… As of today, restriction of dietary intake of AGEs and exercise has been shown to safely reduce circulating AGEs, with further reduction in oxidative stress and inflammatory markers.”
To limit the formation of AGEs inside your system, Dr. Mercola advises limiting fructose intake to 15 grams or less a day. This is especially helpful for people who have high levels of uric acid (which is an indicator of fructose toxicity), diabetes, heart disease, high cholesterol, or high blood pressure. Dr. Mercola adds, “I recommend this lower level simply because if you consume processed foods or sweet beverages at all, you’re virtually guaranteed to consume ‘hidden’ sources of fructose.”
Dr. Mercola also stresses the need to reduce your intake of fruits, which have abundant amounts of fructose. For additional information on the amount of fructose found in fruits, see this fructose chart.
Avoid all artificial sweeteners, which can harm your overall health more than fructose can. You should also avoid agave syrup, which is mostly made of fructose.
If you still wish to add sweeteners to your foods and beverages, Dr. Mercola suggests replacing sugar with natural sweeteners such as:
- Sweet herb stevia
- Organic cane sugar (in moderation)
- Organic raw honey (in moderation)
Because sugar addiction can be hard to overcome, you can prep yourself up by using energy psychology tools and techniques. Dr. Mercola shares a technique called Turbo Tapping. According to him, this has helped many “soda addicts” kick the habit for good.