For most of human history, consumption of sugar, in refined form, was virtually zero. This slowly began to change about
2000 years ago with the discovery of cane sugar. By 1700 CE the per capita consumption of sugar in the developed world was less than 2 kg per annum and accounted for less than 1 percent of caloric intake. By 1800 CE this had risen to about 8 kgs per annum, by 1900 CE to 27 kgs per annum and today it is about 45 kgs per annum accounting for 20 percent of caloric intake.
Our bodies are not evolved to consume such large quantities of refined carbohydrates. With the exception of honey, they are rare in nature where most foods have low Glycemic index. This means that the glucose from the unrefined carbs are released more slowly into the blood stream over a longer period of time. Releasing large quantities of carbohydrates that easily convert to glucose, or large quantities of sugar that again easily convert into glucose, into the blood stream creates a shock to the system and the body reacts by producing more insulin. This puts a strain on the pancreas and liver and over time leads to the development of diabetes. Another problem is empty calories. If 20 percent of all calories consumed contain no minerals or vitamins as is the case with sugar, then you have to eat large quantities of other foods to compensate. Low quality processed foods makes the situation even worse.
The production process for sugar uses 23 harmful chemicals, including sulphur. Once sulphur enters the body it cannot be excreted. Sulphur increases cholesterol and leads to obesity.
Common sweeteners added to food include sucrose (white or brown sugar), fructose, glucose, high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), honey, brown rice syrup, molasses, jaggery, agave and evaporated cane juice. Of them all, only Honey and Jaggery, that too in moderation are good sweeteners. (See – ‘’Artificial’ and ‘Natural’ Sweeteners’).
It is not eating too much fat, particularly saturated fat that clogs the arteries and shortens life. It is table sugar. Table sugar is made up of equal parts of sucrose and fructose. Glucose from sucrose is metabolized by every cell in the body, whereas fructose, like alcohol, is primarily metabolized in the liver, where some of it is converted into fat through a process known as de-novo lipogenisis. Consume enough fructose and you could end-up not only increasing fat in the blood but also fattening your liver, just as you might by drinking too much alcohol. (See – ‘Benefits of fruit?’).
Hence, consumed in large quantities, sugar is poison. Glucose is the body’s main source of energy, which today, it mainly gets from table sugar and dietary carbohydrates. Sugar primes the body to gain weight. Excess starches also have the same effect. Fructose isn’t biologically necessary and excess of it has even worse effect on the body than sugar.