SUGAR - SALT - DIABETES AN OVERVIEW
Fructose, Glucose and Sucrose are all carbohydrates, in todays world they are all known as sugar. Your tongue can’t quite tell any difference between fructose, glucose and sucrose, however there’s no doubt, your body can. That’s where unwanted medical conditions can start to change the structure of the body and your quality of life.
Around half of people’s daily sugar intake comes from many sources, the main source is coming from energy drinks and most soft drinks. Too much sugar can cause the brain to release endogenous opioids. Although the endogenous opioid system is used for pain management, opioids also targets an area of the brain linked to “Reward Releasing Dopamine” which is a neurotransmitter regulating emotion, cognition and the feelings of pleasure. Without us being aware, the brain sees sugar as important, and needs to be repeated again and again, this can be the start of an addiction to sugar.
When sugar from any source is consumed, it travels through the digestive system into the blood stream and the brain. This causes the brain to activate the release of endogenous opioids and dopamine neurotransmitters, these are linked to the brains pleasure system which gives people a surge of pleasure and euphoria from sugary drinks and other sugar laden products.
Drugs and the opioid receptors
Although the intensity is substantially higher, it’s substances such as heroin, cocaine and some recreational substances, that once in the bloodstream they activate the brains pleasure system, in turn the brain releases the same endogenous opioids and dopamine, it’s this release that gives the intense sense of pleasure, especially heroin when injected straight into the bloodstream. As explained, the brain sees this as pleasure that needs to be repeated over and over again, this is the start of addiction.
While carrying out research on the subject of heroin, although not always the case, the first-time people experience heroin, find the pleasure is so good, it leaves the person wanting to try it again, then again. The side effects look horrendous, apart from many dangerous side effects, heroin affects blood pressure. When heroin reaches the brain, apart from the pleasure side, heroin binds itself to the opioid receptors within the brain that control blood pressure, this doesn’t cause high blood pressure, it’s the opposite, heroin causes blood pressure to drop, sometimes too low which can be fatal. There are many other serious side effects from heroin, cocaine, and some recreational drugs.
This is just one of many websites that can explain the dangers of heroin far better than me.
However, it seems the only way to stop being addicted to heroin is, not to try it. Some researchers mention, it only takes one heroin experience to get people hooked!
When we eat table sugar
When we eat table sugar, apart from the excess insulin which can affect the circulatory system, our bodies break sugar down into glucose and fructose.
Fructose, apart from a very small amount, is not really produced by our body, fructose is metabolised (changed) by the liver, changed into glycogen which is a molecule produced and stored mainly in the liver. Glycogen is a term that describes how the body stores glucose for future use.
It’s the store of glycogen that is used to control blood sugar levels and other parts of the body.
There is a hormone called glucagon, very similar to the spelling glycogen, however glucagon has the opposite effect on the body compared to insulin, both insulin and glucagon are hormones that need to work together to keep blood sugars at the correct levels.
However, glucagon has a different impact on people with diabetes, it can be responsible for raising blood sugar levels too high. More about diabetes, especially type 2 will be in the members section, suggesting ways to manage type 2 diabetes, and how glucagon impacts type 1 diabetes in a different way.
Fructose which is sugar is all carbohydrate, (Carbs) plus there are zero essential elements in carbs, however it’s carbs that give you energy, your body consumes carbs from foods, your body converts carbs into glucose which is the source of energy.
Like many things in life there’s two sides to most discussions, this also applies to carbohydrates, there are two types of carbs, these are referred to as, simple and complex carbs. Simple carbs come in cereals with added sugar, white bread, sugary snacks etc. it’s these simple carbs that go straight into the blood stream causing your blood sugar to spike and accumulate fat around the body.
Complex carbs are different in the way, unlike simple carbs that virtually go straight into the bloodstream, complex carbs take a lot longer to be broken down into glucose, resulting in drip feeding the bloodstream with glucose that gives longer term energy and less spikes in blood sugar.
Complex carbs are in many foods such as barley, oats, green vegetables, sweet potatoes, beans, peas and more. There is much more ongoing information about carbs, diet, obesity, genetics, physical activity and inactivity in the members section.
To conclude, one thing is for sure, sugar doesn’t contain any nutrients, plus many doctors claim that evidence is increasingly showing that sugar is a ‘Risk Factor’ not only for blood pressure but for many other diseases, especially Type 2 diabetes.
Sucrose is more commonly known as table sugar which comes from sugar cane. The sugar cane is picked, shredded and crushed to remove the natural juice, it’s then boiled which causes it to thicken, once it cools down it leaves rich molasses crystals.
It is then spun at high speed which removes the molasses leaving the white crystals of sugar we see on our table. Sucrose (Table Sugar) is also a simple sugar which is a carbohydrate.
One of the differences between sucrose and fructose is the way the body breaks it down, once sucrose gets into the bloodstream it activates the release of insulin from the pancreas, unlike fructose which doesn’t have the same reaction from the pancreas.
Again, like fructose, sucrose is converted into glucose, any excess is stored in the liver, referred to as glycogen. If the storage space in the liver is exceeded, it is then stored as fat in tissue causing obesity, the increase in risk of type 2 diabetes and other medical complications.
TABLE SALT is the common name for Sodium Chloride and consumption should still be kept within safe guidelines.
Too much in your food may cause an increase in blood pressure. It is generally accepted that the daily recommended amount of salt is no more than 6 grams, that’s less than a quarter of one ounce.
Some people have been known to think sodium levels are the same as recommended salt levels. For reference salt is 40% sodium plus 60% chloride. Should people be confused, they could think that 6g of sodium is the recommended dose, they would be wrong, 6g of sodium is in fact 15g of salt, more than twice the daily suggested dose. To work out the amount of salt in sodium use this formula. Salt = Sodium x 2.5. Eating 2.4g of sodium per day, equals 6g of salt, which is the current recommended daily allowance.
It is possible for the body to have low sodium levels, the condition is called Hyponatraemia, it’s also possible to overdose on salt, a condition called Hypernatremia which can in certain circumstances be fatal. I’ve covered these conditions and much more information on salt in the Members Section.
DIABETES & BLOOD PRESSURE
Blood pressure can be linked to many things, one being salt, apart from the salt from the salt shaker, a lot of salt is in many oven ready meals. Researchers have found that sugar can also cause blood pressure to increase. Especially when the sugar intake leads to people storing fat, in turn this can cause obesity and cardiovascular problems which can have a further impact on blood pressure.
A Dangerous Combination
DIABETES & BLOOD PRESSURE is a dangerous combination, resulting in a significant increase in cardiovascular disease (heart attack, stroke and circulation problems) and kidney disease than either condition alone.
Research indicates that around 30% of the people living with type 1 diabetes, and more than 70% of the people living with type 2 diabetes tend to have hypertension (High Blood Pressure).
The build-up of sugar triggers the body to make more insulin. The additional insulin causes the body to retain more salt and other bodily fluids, which in turn, can be a cause in an increase in blood pressure.
When levels of blood pressure are consistently above 140mmHg over 90mmHg, (definition of high blood pressure) changes in lifestyle and diet are required. If these changes don’t lower blood pressure then treatment may be required.
Under normal circumstances blood pressure varies, generally being higher in the morning but will change throughout the day. People suffering with blood pressure that remains sustainably elevated run the risk of further medical complications.
Diabetes patients have an increased risk of high blood pressure caused by excess fluid in the body.
Blood pressure can increase because of the way the body manages insulin.
In general blood pressure can increase when arteries become hardened or partially blocked. The arteries in people with diabetes lose their ability to dilate (Stretch) this increases the possibility that blood pressure may rise. However, this scenario is common with some diabetics, and managed by doctors and health professionals.
Reducing your blood pressure to 130mmHg/80mmHg or even lower down to 90mmhg/60mmHg can possibly help to avoid these complications.
There are many other risks associated with diabetes that is not properly managed, with a possibility of a heart attack, a stroke, kidney disease, and should the blood vessels in the eye become damaged, there is the possibility of becoming blind. These complications are significantly increased by several fold if blood pressure is not well controlled.
Additional insulin may cause the body to retain more salt and other bodily fluids, which in turn, can be a cause in an increase in blood pressure.
It’s worth remembering it’s the pancreas that continually monitors how much glucose is in the bloodstream, if the blood sugar level is high, the pancreas releases insulin to bring blood sugar levels down.
If people eat excess food it may increase the amount of sugar stored in the body. Any excess is stored and used at a later time to keep blood sugar at the correct levels, if the levels increase above the storage capability of the liver, this is stored around the body as fat.
MONITORING DIABETES is a continuous requirement. It is crucial to maintains blood sugar to the correct level. Health Professionals and Doctors need to review how your sugar levels are being maintained.
To achieve this there are two different blood tests. One of these blood tests used by Doctors and Consultants is called an HbA1C blood test. This test gives your doctor an indication how well your blood sugar has been regulated over the past three months.
The second is a home blood sugar monitor used to ensure you’re managing your blood sugar within a specified range.
Bulletproof Coffee (BPC)
Bulletproof Coffee (BPC) is something many people are talking about on the internet, it’s a drink you can make with coffee, unsalted “Grass Fed Butter” “Coconut Oil” or MCT Oil.
What is MCT Oil? MCT stands for Medium Chain Triglycerides, which are a unique fatty acid found in coconut and palm oils. They have the ability to stabilise blood sugar and enhance Ketone Body Production.
It’s suggested Bulletproof coffee is beneficial to most people, it’s said to be beneficial to diabetics, saying BPC increases energy and helps to stabilise blood sugar due to the healthy fats in this coffee.
Butter from Grass Fed cows is said to contain higher levels of Omega 3 Fatty Acid, plus the vitamin K2, compared to butter from grain fed cows. Grass fed butter also contains Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA), researchers have indicated CLA may inhibit cancer, in particular, breast cancer.
Bulletproof Coffee is an interesting consideration to add to our diets, have a look on the internet, there is a wealth of information, including some websites that suggest caution before drinking bulletproof coffee every day. One thing this does highlight is that grass fed butter is good for you and doesn’t make you fat! This subject will be added to the members section this year.
As I am not a diabetic, but wishing to understand how diabetics manage blood sugar, I purchased a home monitor that works with an iPhone. I took readings over a two-week period which varied from 1.9mmol/L to 3.8mmol/L, a Doctor friend saw these figures, saying they are low and I should get my blood sugar checked by a Doctor specialising in diabetes, there being symptoms of hypoglycaemia.
I had a consultation with Dr Felicity Kaplan FCP(SA)DCH,FRCP(Lon), a Consultant Endocrinologist, during the consultation a blood sugar test showed my blood sugar level to be 4.9mmol/L. Dr Kaplan organised a further blood test for cortisol, glucose and HbA1C, the test results were:
- Glucose (Random Plasma): 4.9 mmol/L (range 3.5-8)
- Haemoglobin A1c (DCCT aligned): 5.4% (36mmol/mol: range up to 6% or 42mmol/mol)
- All within the accepted range.
- Confirming the blood sugar device I purchased was misleading.