Sugar: the sweetest enemy? How is it distributed? What diseases does it cause?

Sugar: the sweetest enemy? How is it distributed? What diseases does it cause?
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It's high in energy and low in vitamins. Even though its harmfulness has been known for years, shelves are still full of it. It's found in candy, sweetened drinks, convenience foods and, surprisingly, in foods where you wouldn't really expect it. It's sugar. What makes it so dangerous and why won't the food industry give it up? Here are the answers.

Sweet but dangerous sugar? Why, you ask?
What effect does excess sugar consumption have on our health?
Learn about the most common diseases caused by excess sugar intake and the types of sugar.

Sugar has been described as a white killer, a sweet poison and, more recently, a drug. Despite these revelations and warnings from the media, we consume excessive amounts of it every day, even unknowingly.

The reason for the unconscious and excessive consumption of sugar is the wide range of foods with a high sugar content. It is simply hard to avoid it. It is inconceivable to spend hours when buying it studying the ingredients, which, for the most part, the layman can hardly understand anyway.

It should be noted that not only sugar but also excessive intake of other substances has a negative effect on the body. Even large quantities of vitamins or water can harm a person.

Its effects are still not entirely clear to everyone and have been kept secret for a long time. The diseases it causes take years to develop and are rarely associated with sugar. People automatically think of sugar as an increase in obesity or the development of diabetes.

But this is only a fraction of what its excessive consumption can cause.

50 years ago, research into the harmfulness of sugar was funded by the food industry itself.
Was this to cover up its influence and impact on human health?
Probably so.
The findings at the time in favour of investors and the subsequent revelations of more scandals and corruption in the food industry suggested this.

There is no sugar like sugar

Carbohydrates (Lat. saccharum) are organic compounds whose chemical structure consists of carbon (C), hydrogen (H) and oxygen (O). Therefore, they can also be found under the name carbohydrates, carbohydrates or hydrocarbons.

Despite the initial negativity, carbohydrate remains the basic component of energy and the basic building block of biopolymers of all living organisms (plants, animals, bacteria, viruses), including humans.

It also has a storage function (glycogen) and is a component of DNA, RNA, ATP, hormones and enzymes. The human body is made up of 2% sugar. Maintaining normal glycaemia (blood sugar) levels is essential for its proper functioning.

Table with the basic breakdown of carbohydrates:

Monosaccharides simple sugars consisting of a hydroxyl group and a functional group (aldehyde or ketone)
  1. glucose
  2. fructose
Oligosaccharides complex sugars whose molecule is composed of 2 to 10 monosaccharide units linked by an O-glycosidic bond
  1. disaccharides (sucrose, lactose, maltose)
  2. trisaccharides (raffinose)
  3. oligosaccharides (inulin)
Polysaccharides complex sugars consisting of a large number of monosaccharides linked by oxygen bridges
  1. animal (glycogen, chitin, hyaluronic acid, heparin)
  2. vegetable (cellulose, starch, inulin, pectin, alginic acid)

Healthful carbohydrates

Not all carbohydrates are automatically bad.

But the downside is the high incidence of harmful sugars. Beneficial carbohydrates are less abundant on the shelves.

Beneficial carbohydrates include polysaccharides, which are complex sugars. They are also called glycans.

Classification of polysaccharides based on their structure

  1. Homopolysaccharides - these include starch, glycogen, cellulose or inulin
  2. heteropolysaccharides - this group includes, for example, resins or mucilages

Classification of polysaccharides on the basis of their function

  1. polysaccharides with a building function - cellulose
  2. polysaccharides with storage function - starch

Classification of polysaccharides according to their occurrence

  1. zoopolysaccharides
  2. phytopolysaccharides
  3. polysaccharides of micro-organisms


Starch (Latin: amylum) belongs to the group of polysaccharides. It is found in plants where it is stored in the form of starch grains. 80% of it consists of amylopectin and the remaining 20% is amylose.

These are made up of glucose molecules and also contains fats, proteins and water.

Starch is a white, tasteless substance, insoluble in water. It has significant nutritional value for humans, precisely because of its breakdown in the human body. This begins in the oral cavity, where it is hydrolysed to maltose. Maltose is a disaccharide that is broken down in the small intestine into glucose, which is absorbed into the bloodstream.

Glucose is a source of energy. Its supplementation with artificial sweeteners is therefore not necessary.

Potatoes, cereals, barley, wheat, oatmeal, legumes, seeds, corn or bananas are mainly high in starch.

However, these foods should be consumed with caution, especially when reducing weight.


Cellulose is the safest of all polysaccharides in terms of its effect on human health and especially on the unintended development of obesity. Its glucose units are linked by strong chains, so it is resistant to breakdown by digestive juices.

This means that it will pass through the human intestine without breaking down into monosaccharide glucose units.

Cellulose, also known as fibre, has beneficial effects on digestion. It binds water and other toxic substances, thereby cleansing the intestines and ridding them of harmful substances. These substances include cholesterol and dangerous metals such as lead, mercury and cadmium.

Therefore, fibre is considered to have a significant effect in the prevention of civilisation, but also autoimmune or oncological diseases.

Foods containing fibre include brown rice, parsley, cucumber, peppers, red cabbage, avocados, apples, raspberries, rose hips, almonds, nuts, wholemeal bread, pulses, cereals, oatmeal, seeds, seaweed, oyster mushrooms...

Which sugars are the most dangerous for humans?

On the one hand, carbohydrates are important for humans as a source of energy, but on the other hand, their increased consumption causes health problems.

These occur earlier and are more serious if slow metabolism, lack of physical activity or other diseases are associated with excessive consumption.

Simple sugars with a high glycaemic index are the most dangerous and key in the development of obesity and other diseases. A high glycaemic index stimulates the release of insulin. Insulin prevents large amounts of carbohydrates from entering the bloodstream by storing them as fat.

The commonly known and experienced term sugar is not the same as carbohydrate.
Sugar is actually only a subset of carbohydrate.
It is made up of simpler carbohydrates, namely monosaccharides and disaccharides.


Glucose, dextrose, or simply grape sugar, is a monosaccharide and is the primary source of energy for humans. It is of great, irreplaceable importance to the brain and red blood cells (erythrocytes). In the body, it is formed in limited amounts from glycogen, amino acids, and very little from glycerol.

Therefore, a daily intake of 150 g of glucose is necessary for the proper functioning of the body. This is produced by crystallisation from the fruits of plants or by hydrolysis of starch, for example from potatoes. In its final state, it is a white crystalline substance with a sweet taste.

The advantage of glucose is that it provides energy quickly. While this is useful when you need to be fully focused or before exercise, the resulting effect is short-lived. Subsequently, the excess and unused amount is stored as fat in fat stores.

Thus, fat pads are formed that are visible externally and the organs are encased in fat.


Fructose, levulose or also fruit sugar, is a monosaccharide like glucose. It is sometimes found in plant foods together with glucose and together they form a complex disaccharide - sucrose (a common table sugar).

Fructose is found mainly in fruits, but also in vegetables, flowers and honey. It is produced mainly from sugar beet, cane and corn. In its final state, it is a white crystalline or powdery substance with a sweet taste. It is the sweetest carbohydrate ever.

In the food industry, we are familiar with fructose on its own, the aforementioned sucrose and fructose syrup.

In the body, it is important in certain metabolic processes. It is not stored as fat, but is metabolised in the liver. At first sight, this sounds quite good for anyone with a weight problem. However, its long-term excessive intake can irreversibly damage the liver.

It cannot be transplanted, which can mean death if the liver is severely damaged.


Sucrose is a disaccharide by combining a glucose molecule and a fructose molecule. It has an irreplaceable place in the food industry. We know it as table sugar. Beet or cane, it's still sucrose.

So the frequent debate over which is healthier is irrelevant. Neither.

But that's not its only use. It's an important preservative because it slows the growth of microorganisms. If you're trying to avoid excessive sugar intake, avoid almost all preservatives as well.

The negative effects of glucose and fructose have already been mentioned above. Since sucrose contains both of these monosaccharides, its negatives are doubled.

Diseases that sugar can cause

The predominantly civilisational diseases in the background of which carbohydrates play a significant role are many. Some of them have been proven to be related to excessive sugar consumption. Others are under consideration and many diseases we would not even think of.

The formation of dental caries

From a very young age, we were scared that if we ate a lot of sweets, our teeth would decay. If we think logically about all of our grandmothers' warnings, there is always a grain of truth to them, if not all of it.

Despite the limited information in the past, people knew more from experience than we can now explain based on the progress of science.

Sugar clearly has an effect on tooth enamel deterioration, although not directly. Teeth decay through acids that are produced in the mouth as a result of bacterial activity.

And there's an incredible amount of bacteria. Now, some might say that bacteria ultimately cause tooth decay. But what do bacteria feed on? It's sugar.

We buy loads of disinfectants, we disinfect our hands more often than necessary, we wash our store-bought vegetables. In short, we get rid of bacteria wherever we can.

But sometimes we forget that it's in our mouths where most of the bacteria live. And not just bacteria. Fungi, whipworms and hookworms also live on our teeth.

And instead of getting rid of them, we feed them sugars.


The global surge in obesity

You might think that there were obese people in the past. Yes, but was there such an incredible number of them? Hardly. Obese individuals are increasing enormously. And what's scary is that there are children among them. Children's metabolism and daily routines should ensure that they are expending enough energy. Why isn't this the case?

Is the intake of sugars really so high that even a child running and jumping from morning to night can't burn it off?


Energy is derived from carbohydrates. Their intake should be equal to their output, with the addition of basal metabolism (burning sugar for the normal running of the body such as breathing, organ function).

The unused energy (mainly glucose) is stored as fat, both in the subcutaneous tissue and on the individual organs. This leads to obesity. Obesity is not just an individual problem, but a worldwide problem.

It was the food companies that in the past deliberately inscribed information about the dangers of fat and obesity in people's minds.

Of course, fat has a part to play in its development, but the main attribute is sugar.

Ultimately, its excess is stored in the form of fat. The reason why carbohydrates and their effect on excess weight have not been talked about, even though it has been known, is because of their excessive addition to food.

For the food industry, sugars are beneficial precisely from an economic point of view.

Tip: Obesity in children and young people, what to do about it

Increased incidence of type 2 diabetes

Sugar does not directly cause diabetes. But, as suggested above, it is crucial in the rise of obesity.

Obesity, in turn, is one of the external risk factors in the development of this metabolic disease.

Its prevalence is rising sharply year on year, not by tens but by hundreds of thousands of new cases a year, say the statistics.

The increase has been as high as 90% in type 2 diabetes. The main cause of this disease is overweight and obesity, due to poor eating habits and lack of exercise.

The term 'poor dietary habits' primarily refers to excessive intake of carbohydrates, and not just in raw food.

Diabetes is one of the diseases of civilisation, and is also known as the epidemic of the third millennium. The high incidence, complications, disability, mortality and the financial cost of treatment are a major problem for individuals and society as a whole.

Tip: Diet in diabetes - suitable, unsuitable and prohibited foods

Damage to the heart and blood vessels, cardiovascular events

Cardiovascular diseases are the cause of sudden death not only in the old but also in the young. For a cardiovascular event (e.g. myocardial infarction) to occur, a blood clot must form in the body. The clot gets trapped at the damaged site of the blood vessel.

Which substance damages blood vessels the most? Sugar damages the heart and blood vessels.

Diabetics know this.

Excessive intake of carbohydrates causes certain proteins to bind with proteins in the blood, which then form inflammatory deposits in the blood vessels. These inflammatory deposits directly damage the blood vessels, increasing the risk of atherosclerosis (blood vessel corrosion). Atherosclerosis is the deposition of fatty particles inside a blood vessel. However, this would not occur if it were not for the previous damage caused by sugar.

Subsequently, thrombosis and sudden cardiovascular events occur.

The body's own fats - triglycerides - are formed from sugars, resulting in increased cholesterol, atherosclerosis and cardiovascular disease. This is even easier than taking them directly from food (fatty meats, bacon, crackling).

Tip: Thrombosis is not a disease of old people.

Liver damaged without alcohol or drugs

Even a "small child" knows about the toxic effect of alcohol on the liver. The more sensible ones try to avoid it, the less sensible ones succumb to it. Toxic liver damage or cirrhosis is the cause of death in a high number of people. Don't drink alcohol, but don't indulge in sweets?


What if I told you that sugar can do similar mischief to your liver? Don't you believe me?

Fructose has a certain importance in metabolism, but the body does not use it as a source of energy. It is metabolized directly in the liver, where it is broken down and converted directly into fat. This puts a strain on the liver and damages it. Firstly, the liver is stressed by its excessive filtering activity, but there is also a risk of fatty liver (called steatosis).

Steatosis of the liver is also called non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. The name derives from the excessive fatty coating of the liver. But it could just as easily be called non-alcoholic fructose liver disease, because it is most often caused by an unhealthy lifestyle, excessive intake of sugars (and fats) and obesity.

In America, a high percentage of children suffer from hepatic steatosis. Sweetened beverages (mango juice has the highest proportion of sugars, surprisingly not coca-cola, according to the findings) are responsible for its onset in childhood.

Tip: Liver failure

Cancer cells also love sugars

Whether excessive consumption of sugars and obesity directly causes cancer is not yet 100% proven. What you think about it is up to your consideration.

What is certain, however, is that cancer is more likely to occur in obese or overweight patients.

It is also scientifically proven that it grows and metastasizes many times faster with excessive sugar intake.

Cancers love sugar. They consume much more of it and faster than healthy cells. They metabolize it into lactic acid, which promotes the growth of the cancer itself and then metastasizes to the surrounding area.

It also mutates Ras proteins, increasing their activity and tumour growth.

You may have heard of people who have refused chemotherapy, radiation and have bet on alternative cancer treatments. There are many books, even by leading authors, where they talk about treating cancer with diet. Despite the wide range of authors and publications, one factor remains constant in each work. And that is the view of sugars.

Sugars are omitted in any cancer treatment!

Tip: Are tumor and cancer the same thing?

Good advice in conclusion

Even one of these negative impacts of carbohydrates on a person's health is enough to give them the motivation they need to think about their health and lifestyle. The diseases listed above have been scientifically proven to be linked to sugars and their excessive consumption.

And that's not all.

In addition, sugar causes a whole range of other diseases that are not mentioned in this article for the sake of length. For example, they are often mentioned in connection with autoimmune diseases, neurological diseases, vision problems due to diabetes and even psychological problems.

There are really countless reasons to control your daily intake of sugars.

Tip: BMI calculation - know your body mass index

The saddest part of all this is that people have been misled or if you like "under-informed" for so many years. Because of this, there has been and continues to be a rapid increase in diseases that could have been better controlled. In many cases, even deaths could have been prevented.

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