It is important to note that, it is not that sugar is bad for the body. Body has a definite requirement of sugar. But it is the quality and excess quantity of sugar which may produce harmful effects in the body. Sugar also increases the entry of tryptophan (an amino acid) to the brain.
There it produces ‘serotonin’ (a neurotransmitter) which is called a calming chemical and makes an individual feel good. This is perhaps the subsidiary advantage of sugar. It is in this context that we will study the harmful effects of white sugar or sucrose.
Harmful effects of white sugar:
White sugar also known as cane, refined or table sugar comes under the category of disaccharides and is chemically known as sucrose, as already described. White sugar is devoid of any vitamins, minerals or fibre because in the refining process all these things get removed. Hence, it provides only empty calories. It has also been implicated to have harmful effects in the body.
Studies have shown that white sugar robs the body of Vitamin B, especially Vitamin B1 known as thiamine. This is necessary for digestion and assimilation by the body of all carbohydrate foods – the sugars and starches. None of the B-vitamins are present in white sugar.
Hence, for assimilation and use of white sugar by the body, the B-vitamins are stolen from nerves, muscles, liver, kidneys, stomach, heart, skin, eyes, blood etc. this leaves these organs of the body deficient in B-vitamins. Unless a large amount of food very rich in B-vitamins is taken, this deficiency will become worse.
As more sugar is taken, more B-vitamins are stolen. Consumption of white sugar can also lead to nervous irritability, digestive disorders, tiredness, poor eyesight, anaemia, heart trouble, muscular diseases, skin diseases etc. Studies have found that 90 per cent of such disorders would be prevented if use of white sugar is avoided.
Again, if you eat carbohydrates in natural form, you will not have problems of Vitamin B deficiency (thiamine) because thiamine which is necessary for digestion of sugar or starch is present in the food itself. Thiamine is required for growth, good appetite and smooth functioning of digestive tracts.
Excessive intakes of white sugar have been known to cause cardiac problems. It impairs the functions of the heart. Thiamine deficiency as a result of white sugar causes degeneration in the heart muscles and it has the tendency to extravascular fluid collections and thus results in terminal cardiac standstill.
White sugar also depletes energy contrary to the usual belief that sugar gives more energy. This is because thiamine deficiency won’t allow the completion of carbohydrate metabolism as a result , energy fails to be released properly,and the result may be rather fatigue and less energy.
Again, sugar high is often followed by a sugar low because of immediate rush of insulin when blood sugar level suddenly rises and this makes the sugar level below normal. The result is called hypoglycemia attack in which symptoms of fatigue, dizziness, depression, tiredness, irritability, tremor and nausea may occur.