There are a number of reasons why we put on weight, from portion sizes to not enough activity and from stress to emotional unhappiness and eating after a late shift... We also use food in this country as a way of showing our ability to host friends and to socialise, of course there is the bottle of wine which accompanies it! Yet, I believe that there is an uneasy truth - SUGAR - it would seem that everything in the supermarket, with the exception of some fruit and vegetables have far too much sucrose added.
The next few paragraphs will be about sugar, although I am not suggesting all weight gain is down to sugar, and I use a number of techniques to assist in weight loss, I think that in the future we will be realizing that SUGAR is such a highly addictive substance, and one which is dangerous to us. I have no doubts in my mind that sugar is one of the main reasons for weight gain across society:
Now the body does need an amount of sugar, and whilst sugar isn't solely to blame, I think that this is an important issue around weight gain and loss prevention to be ignored.
SUGAR - The Enemy within!
When we eat too much sugar, the excess is metabolized by the liver, turned into fat, secreted into the blood stream and transported around the body... There are a number of reasons why excess sugar makes us put on weight:
1. Insulin resistance - Excess glucose is toxic to the body, insulin is secreted in order to reduce these internal levels. However, the insulin mechanism tends to be fragile and breaks, meaning that there is more insulin in the body more of the time. Insulin tells the cells to store energy and avoid burning fat they already carry, as the body is unable to access this energy reserve it tells the body that it is hungry, therefore we eat more.
2. Fructose causes resistance to Leptin - As we eat, the cells get bigger and secrete Leptin which the brain sense as a signal to stop us feeling hungry. As we become more resistant to Leptin due to the excess fructose, we don't feel full and as a result eat more, so the body uses less energy and stores more, which then secretes more Leptin etc. No matter how much will power you have, Leptin-driven starvation signal is extremely powerful and simply eating less isn't an option to the body. (in addition, too much fructose blocks the Leptin signal to the brain - the person has "no-chance".
3. Fructose DOES NOT induce that full feeling - Fructose doesn't make you feel full, so, we keep eating. The body and brain regulate food intake in a complex manner located in the hypothalamus, where Leptin functions with the neurons. A recent study showed that having a glucose drink made the drinker less hungry and more satisfied whereas the fructose drinker did not at all feel satisfied and was hungry. Ghrelin is a hormone which makes us feel hungry, fructose was found to have no effect on this hormone. A meal with fructose sweetener rather than glucose would not make you feel full in the same way.
4. Sugar addiction - Sugar causes opiate and dopamine activity in the reward centre of the brain which correlates with the behaviour of other drugs (such as cocaine). Research is beginning to show that sugar affects the neural pathways in the same way as other drugs, ie. eating sugar brings us a 'pleasure' and opiates and dopamine is released in the pleasure centre, especially in the Nucleus Accumbens which is the same area stimulated by nicotine and cocaine - is sugar addiction a reason why we can't stop ourselves eating and drinking high sugar foods? Over-eating, cravings, guilt etc. accompany this as with any other addict who seek to sub-consciously reward the brain and body.
A BIG ISSUE... is... How much sugar are you consuming daily?