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How does ‘sugar’ make you fat?

HEALTH DIALOGUE

HOW does a sweet end up making your stomach bigger? Have you ever wondered how eating sweets makes you fat? Let me try and explain a bit. In order for you to understand you need to know how the body uses the different elements you put into it.
The human body’s primary source of energy is carbohydrates, secondary sources include fat and protein.
Most human beings have access to carbohydrates and this is what is used for fuel for the body, the body is able to convert fat and protein into energy, in cases of carbohydrate deprivation the body converts fat and protein into a source of energy.
Carbohydrates, when ingested, are broken down by the body into their simplest form, glucose, so that they can be used by the different cells in the body. The process begins with enzymes found in the mouth and continues in the stomach and the small intestine, the arrival of food in the small intestine signals the pancreas to release insulin into the blood stream. Insulin allows the “simple sugar” to enter the cells of the body to be used to create energy, in most cases.
The amount of carbohydrates ingested is sufficient to provide energy to the body for the whole day. In the case that the body has received the required amount of energy, it begins to “store” the excess energy around the body in form of glucose in fat cells.
Food energy is measured in kilojoules, though the term ‘Calorie’ is more commonly used to ease understanding. The average adult needs about 2,200 Calories, this figure changes with age, sex, state of health, pregnancy, breastfeeding and chronic illness. Approximately twenty percent of the energy produced in the body is used for brain activity, the rest is used to keep us alive providing energy for various muscle movements, maintaining body temperature, breathing and several other involuntary activities that happen. When we eat more food than required to keep the body alive, the body stores the excess in fat cells distributed around the body, the cells around the abdomen and gluteus are usually filled first, followed by fat cells in breast tissue, upper limbs and lower limbs.
Back to that sweet, when you eat a sweet during a “non-hungry” state, the sweet is virtually digested in the mouth and broken down into fructose and glucose, which goes directly into the blood stream and when energy is not required at the time it is converted into fat for storage and use at a later point.
Fructose on the other hand cannot be processed by human cells in its natural state, it can only be used by the liver and in the liver fructose is converted directly into fat that is released into the blood stream. If your energy requirements are always lower than what you consume, more glucose is “stored”. The best way to prevent accumulation of “stored energy” aka, body fat, is to eat what you require only, avoid excessive sweets and increase your daily physical exercise.
For more information on daily diet email 990health@champ.org.zm

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