How Do Our Bodies Actually Process Sugar?

In our last post, we have been discussing the damaging affects of too much sugar and how it is wreaking havoc on the body’s ability to process food efficiently. Sugar affects the gut (and brain) in harmful ways is becoming more and more understood. What is the actual science behind these claims? Let’s dive in a bit. Before you mentally check out when you run across scientific terms like microbiota, synthesis, and pathogenic, remember that your gut is a primary influencer of all other organ function, including the brain. So, if your gut is not thriving, most likely, the rest of your body will begin to struggle, as well. Science, here we come!

The Science

Your gut (i.e. primarily the stomach and intestines), is filled with a diverse habitat of microbiota (including the oft mentioned good and bad bacteria). When the food you eat reaches these colonies of microbes, those microbes begin to feed on that food, breaking it down into the raw nutrients the human body can use. For example, carbs are changed into usable simple sugars and vitamins are synthesized. Because the body relies heavily on this nutrient breakdown process, the composition of the microbial community in the gut can either increase or decrease the body’s metabolic effectiveness. For instance, if the gut has an overgrowth of “bad” bacteria that doesn’t breakdown the proper nutrients but instead secretes toxins and pathogenic particles, the body’s immune system is called into action, to essentially fight against itself, creating an environment of chronic inflammation. This becomes especially relevant if that “bad” colony of bacteria is constantly being fed and strengthened by… you guessed it: sugar. Not only does sugar tend to feed the not-so-great microbes that, in turn, trigger constant inflammatory responses, it also causes the body to begin automatically storing fat on the body instead of breaking it down into energy to be used immediately. Thus, sugar creates this double negative effect: strengthening the bad microbes that love sugar (and cause chronic inflammation) and triggering the automatic storage of fat instead of immediately using it for energy.

Wow! The science of sugar digestion is fascinating, right? The function of the human gut and the effect sugar has upon it is continually being studied and increasingly understood. We hope that this brief synopsis encourages you to research and learn more for yourself about how a healthy body functions and how some simple changes, like decreasing our sugar intake, could help improve overall health.

 Food for thought… Until next time. Eat well, live well.

J & K

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