Carbohydrate containing foods in our environment include yam, rice, potatoes, cassava/garri, table sugar, honey, jam, cereals, wheat/bread, oatmeal, beans, cakes, fat-free milk, noodles, plantain, vegetables, fruits etc. Sugars are the simplest form of carbohydrate; all digestible carbohydrates are broken down to glucose, fructose and galactose. Other sugars include sucrose (found in sugar cane), maltose and lactose; these three are usually broken down in the body to the first three types of sugars. The indigestible carbohydrates are what we call fibres.
Sugar (glucose, fructose) are easily manufactured from more complex carbohydrates and used in the preparation and processing of foods. Consequently much of the sugar of concern to our health is consumed from sources such as soft drinks, cakes, fruit drinks, desserts, ketchup, bread, soups, syrup, honey, table sugar, alcoholic beverages and breakfast cereals.
Owing to the obesity prevalence and other chronic diseases associated with it, the World Health Organisation has been forced to lower the recommended daily consumption to about 5% of daily energy requirement from 10%. While it is difficult to put exact quantity to this recommended percentage of 5 percent, the American Health Association recommends about six teaspoon (about 3-4 cubes) a day for women and nine (6 cubes) for men. This is sugar added to foods, or in form of honey, syrups and fruit juices but not natural sugars in fruits.
Excessive sugar consumption is linked to obesity; the reason is simple and easy to understand. If the sugar consumed by you is more than you require, the excess is converted into another substance called glycogen and also into fat. It is this fat that leads to obesity. The ability of the body to store fat is limitless and is stored in what is called adipose cells; new adipose cells can easily be formed. The storage sites include the abdomen, thighs and buttocks.
2. Toothy Decay
Sugars contribute immensely to tooth decay. Bacteria normally present in the mouth break down sugars to form acids which eat up the “white” of the teeth and gums causing cavities. The bacteria also work on the sugar in the mouth to form thick substances (plaques) that stick to the teeth. These plaques in turn aid the activities of the bacteria to create more cavities.
Some of these bacteria can find their way into the blood stream and cause infections in the heart and the blood vessels.
3. Diabetes Mellitus
Obesity is associated with diabetes mellitus. Obesity increases resistance of body cells to the agent (insulin) which controls blood sugar. This situation eventually leads to high blood sugar- a condition known as diabetes.
4. Bowel Disorders
A form of sugar called lactose present in milk can cause abdominal (bowel) problems. Excessive gas can be produced in the intestines leading to abdominal pain and passing out of a lot smelly air. Occasionally, this same sugar can cause diarrhea.
5. Heart Problems
A study led by the U.S Centre for Disease Control and Prevention found that too much sugar can raise the risk of fatal heart problems. Diabetes can cause damage to blood vessels and subsequent hardening and narrowing of blood vessels. Narrowing of blood vessels supplying the heart can lead to heart attack.
6. Blood Vessel Problems
Blood vessels supplying blood to different parts of the body can be affected by too much sugar consumption indirectly. Diabetes and hypertension that can arise from obesity can cause damage to blood vessels. This damage can lead to hardening and narrowing of the blood vessels.