The sucralose is an artificial sweetener which can be used to replace sugar; It has less caloric intake and does not stimulate the release of insulin. Your allowable daily intake is 0-15 mg / kg of weight / day. It is used as an ingredient in a wide variety of beverages and many processed foods.
The increase in the rate of overweight and obesity is a public health problem, and although there is still a long way to go, official agencies are taking action to make the food industry reformulate processed foods and change certain components for other healthier. One of the ingredients that is in the spotlight is sugar , as it is present in more processed foods than we think and in higher quantities than desired. Hence the search for other alternatives , such as the use of low calorie sweeteners to help reduce the caloric load of sugary foods and beverages without reducing the narcoleptic properties of the product. One of those that are usually used is sucrose , an artificial sweetener that we can identify with the code E-955, and that is obtained by modification of sucrose or table sugar.
- Differences between sugar and sucralose
- How much sucralose can be taken?
- Sucralose for cooking
- Other uses of sucralose
- Possible effects of sucralose
Differences between sugar and sucralose
The sucralose is very different sugar , because due to its molecular structure, is hardly absorbed in the intestine, therefore their caloric intake is very low . Instead, it interacts with the same taste buds as sugar, but has a much more intense sweetness level , being 600 times sweeter than the original product.
On the other hand, unlike sugar, sucralose , in principle, does not stimulate the release of insulin and does not cause changes in blood glucose levels . However, recent studies question this claim, although more research is needed.
How much sucralose can be taken?
To know what amount of sucralose can be consumed, we must look at the ADI (Allowable Daily Intake) that has been assigned. It is the estimation of the amount of a substance, expressed in terms of body weight, which can be taken daily throughout life without posing a risk to health. It is expressed in mg of additive per Kg of body weight and per day. In the case of sucralose, the ADI is 0-15 mg / kg of weight / day , therefore, for a 70 kg person, the maximum amount that could be taken per day would be 1050 mg (1.05 g).
Sucralose for cooking
Sucralose is very stable and resists high temperatures, a characteristic that allows its use in cooked foods such as confectionery products, without losing its ability to sweeten. It can be used in substitution of sugar or in combination with it to reduce the caloric intake of a recipe, although the processing time may be slightly different. We can find it in several presentations: liquid, granulated, in envelopes and in tablets.
Other uses of sucralose
The sucralose is used as an ingredient in a wide variety of drinks and many processed foods such as baked goods, bakery products , fruit juices, milk , canned fruits, and in general, products labeled “0% sugars” or light “.
Possible effects of sucralose
Although there are no contraindications for its use in adults, children, and even pregnancy, possible adverse effects of sucralose are being studied . Although studies have been conducted in animals, it has been observed that low calorie sweeteners alter the balance of the bacterial flora of the gastrointestinal tract. It should also be considered if consumption is regular and long-term.
The replacement of sugar by sucralose or other sweeteners is a good alternative to reduce the caloric content of the products and promote better control of body weight without sacrificing sweetness . It allows people who enter weight loss programs to enjoy this taste without having to count calories. In any case, it would be convenient if we were to disinhabited ourselves with so much sweet taste. Well, in childhood we are accustomed to this taste, which we incorporate into our diet daily, and to which we are totally hooked.
Do you want to know instantly the amount of sugar contained in each food you eat ?: Find out how to do it
Sugar is more harmful to your health than you think and is in large proportions in many more foods than you could imagine.
Did you know that a can of soda contains a quantity of sugar equivalent to ten cubes of this substance? And that a yogurt has the equivalent of four cubes and ribs with barbecue sauce to twenty?
So that you have enough information about how sugar affects your body and you can reduce its consumption to improve your health, DKV has teamed up with the organization Sin Azúcar .
Thus, for example, DKV is collaborating in the diffusion of the exhibition “Without sugar” that shows, through photographs, the amount of sugar that you eat every day without realizing with each one of the foods that you consume.
If you have not had the opportunity to see it, do not worry. You have other options at your disposal to know everything about sugar and how to maintain a healthy diet:
- Download the new Sin Azúcar app. This new tool has a label scanner to calculate the number of lumps equivalent to each food you take. In addition, it gives you access to all the photographs that the organization Sin Azúcar publishes on its website and social networks.
Start enjoying it now, by clicking here !
- Attend TEDx events where nutrition is discussed. At DKV we have started to sponsor them because we believe that these meetings, whose philosophy is to transmit the best “ideas worth spreading” are a very appropriate scenario to share information about the importance of healthy eating and how to carry it out. For this reason, we have given our support to the TEDx Malagueta, TEDx Vitoria, TEDx Tarragona and many more that will come later.
At DKV we want you to take good care of yourself. Providing you with enough information to maintain a healthy diet and life is essential to achieve it. Because we know you have a lot to take care of: your health.
In this same line, DKV sponsors the exhibition “SinAzucar.org”. It is an artistic project that aims to show, through photography, the amount of sugar that many of the foods we consume habitually have in their composition .
Knowing the actual percentage of sugar contained in the food we eat every day is very necessary. More and more studies have linked the high consumption of this substance with the risk of suffering from chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes, coronary and hepatic diseases.
A can of soda contains an amount of sugar equivalent to ten cubes of this substance. A yogurt, the equivalent of four and some ribs with barbecue sauce, 80 grams of sugar, that is, the same as about twenty cubes. Did you know?
Most people do not know and are not aware of all the negative effects that excessive consumption of sugar has on our body.
For these reasons, the objective of the exhibition “Without Sugar” is to make sure that, through photographs, you know the amount of sugar you drink , on a daily basis, without even realizing it. And it is that this substance is in the composition of many more products than you think.
Knowing the percentage of sugar in each of the foods we eat is extremely important, since, more and more studies , relate the high consumption of this substance with the risk of suffering from chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes, coronary and liver diseases .
So, do not think about it! Visit the exhibition “Without Sugar” and do not let something so sweet come to embitter your days.
The exhibition will be in the Multipurpose Room of the DKV Tower of Zaragoza from April 8 to June 24. Do not miss it!
We want to help you improve your diet and reduce your sugar consumption
At DKV we want you to take good care of yourself. To know more about the importance of maintaining a healthy diet and know how to carry it out, in addition to the exhibition “Without Sugar”, we sponsor TEDx events in which nutrition is discussed.
Last February, we were the main sponsors of one of the “biggest” TEDx events in Spain, the TEDxMalagueta , which brought together more than 900 attendees .
Following the philosophy of the popular TED talks, the TEDx program aims to convey the best “ideas worth spreading”.
TEDxMalagueta welcomed the reflections of tennis coach Toni Nadal, actor Álex O’Dogherty, the prestigious nutritionist and blogger, Aitor Sánchez and the transplant coordinator of the Hospital Clínico, Fernando Segura , among others.
DKV sponsored this event considering it a very appropriate scenario to share information about the importance of healthy eating and how to carry it out. A subject that we should all know in depth to be able to improve our health and our well-being .
The sugar is highly questioned lately, as there are nutritionists and dieticians who believe that consume generally much more sugar than we need , warning that the added sugar is very bad for our health.
But what about the athletes, and more specifically, the runners ? Runners work hard in their sport, recording endless miles of speed work, slopes and long runs. Many runners work just as hard to maintain proper nutrition for sports performance, avoiding foods such as fat and sugar. However, sugar is the body’s preferred source of fuel for running. Consuming the right types of sugar can improve your performance and give you the energy you need to travel a distance.
Next, we will see the following points:
- Running requires sugar
- Sugars for better running performance
- When and how much to eat
Running requires sugar
The running predominantly uses carbohydrates as fuel. All the carbohydrates we eat are made up of sugars that are first converted into glucose in our blood and then stored in our muscles as glycogen . Glycogen provides fuel for aerobic activities such as running. To run long distances and achieve optimal performance, runners must complete muscle glycogen stores with a high-carbohydrate diet.
We must distinguish in the needs of sugar, according to the runner is in the preparation phase or in the competition phase.
During the preparation phase , the same amount of simple sugars is recommended for the runner as for the rest of the population, that is, a maximum of 5% of the total calories.
In the competition stage, it can not be generalized, since the amount of sugar advisable, will depend on the type of running, the race that is practiced, and also the weight and physical characteristics of each runner.
Yes it is true that when it is a training or a competition of more than 90 minutes duration it is advisable to have an extra contribution of carbohydrates.
Sugars for better running performance
There are three main types of sugar: monosaccharides, disaccharides and polysaccharides
- Monosaccharides , including fructose found in honey and galactose found in milk.
- Disaccharides , including sucrose, a combination of glucose and fructose that makes up table sugar; lactose, the sugar found in milk composed of glucose and galactose; maltose, a product of starch digestion;
- Polysaccharides or starches . Simple carbohydrates high in glucose will give you energy before running, since glucose can be stored immediately in the muscles as glycogen.
Foods such as fruits , potatoes and cereals are high in glucose and provide runners with immediate energy before the start. While whole grains are an important part of a runner’s diet, fiber in whole grains may be difficult for some runners to digest before training. Therefore, runners may prefer to eat white bread, rice or pasta as a pre-meal. It is good to combine carbohydrates with a small amount of fat and protein, such as butter, for greater satiety and energy during the race. You have to avoid unhealthy sugars like cookies, or cakes with high fructose content, since these can negatively affect the performance of the race.
There are products such as yogurt and custard, soft drinks, ice cream , some desserts, etc., which contain a high amount of sugars that is negative for both an athlete and a person who is not.
When and how much to eat
The time and size of the snack before work will be slightly different for each individual, but a good rule of thumb is to eat 150 to 200 calories an hour before running. If you are going to run for more than an hour, you can choose to wear sports or chewable gels. These products have a high content of simple sugars so you can feed yourself while you run without disturbing digestion.
As we can see, the intake of sugar in its proper measure is indicated, but outside of the indicated cases one must be cautious and ask an expert to solve any doubt.
You can buy unrefined brown sugar instead of refined white sugar thinking you’re buying a healthier sugar. But unfortunately, brown sugar, whether raw or refined, has few benefits with respect to white sugar in the health section. The main benefits of brown sugar are its appearance, a molasses flavor and containing some more minerals.
The white sugar only gives us empty calories, it is rich in calories but provides no nutritional value to our diet. It is a product extracted from sugar cane or beet and then refined. It is the purest sugar , because it has 99 percent sucrose.
Regarding brown sugar , we must distinguish between the so-called brown sugar and whole cane. Brown sugar is refined white sugar to which molasses extract is added. The integral cane is manufactured directly from the juices of sugar cane and is not refined. But although, the unrefined brown sugar provides minerals (potassium, iron, sodium, magnesium and calcium) and vitamins (mainly vitamin B, while white sugar only provides empty calories , this does not mean that brown sugar is healthier than The blanquilla, on the other hand, is a problem, because when we consider it healthier, we add it to our diet, as it is consumed in small quantities, it is not a source of those nutrients and yet it does have a sugar content similar to white sugar.
The consumption of sugar in excess gives rise to various types of diabetes, which involves an increase in the level of blood glucose .
Brown sugar manufacturing process
The raw sugar , which appears brown, undergoes less processing than white sugar or brown sugar. After the manufacturers remove the juice from the sugarcane, they boil the juice and filter it. Turning the crystals in a centrifuge produces the raw sugar crystals, which contain molasses. The white table sugar or is subjected to further processing and granulation to make the crystals are thinner; This eliminates the molasses. Brown sugar is refined white sugar with added molasses. The turbinado sugar is raw sugar with only the molasses washed.
Raw sugar has thicker crystals than refined white or brown sugar, which gives the product a more organic appearance. This may interest you aesthetically, since it gives the appearance of a more “natural” product. In some foods, brown sugar is added to the color of the finished product.
Both raw and brown sugar contain a few more minerals than refined white sugar, but only because they contain molasses. Although brown sugar offers a small amount of calcium, potassium, iron and magnesium in its sweetener, the amounts are too small to have a real health benefit. A serving of one teaspoon of brown sugar supplies only 0.02 milligrams of iron, for example, a minute amount of the daily requirement of 8 milligrams for men and 18 milligrams for women in adulthood.
The molasses in the brown and raw sugar gives it a slightly different flavor, which could be a benefit if you like the taste of the molasses. Brown sugar and unrefined sugar contain between 5 and 10 percent molasses, while darker brown sugars contain the highest amounts.
In conclusion, we could advise you not to eat too much sugar , white or brown. The best way to keep sugar at its proper level is to perform physical exercise and follow the dietary recommendations that specialists indicate for diabetes.
In the blink of an eye your routines become different. Diabetic children, thanks to current advances, can lead a practically normal life, though, with some special care. We will discover the care to follow when a child has diabetes mellitus.
- What is it?
- Symptoms and diagnosis
Diabetes mellitus what is it?
It is estimated that there are 143 million people in the world with diabetes. The WHO considers that 50% of people who have diabetes are undiagnosed.
In Spain it is estimated that there are 29,000 children under 15 years of age with diabetes mellitus and each year there are about 1,100 new cases.
Diabetes mellitus is its scientific name. Mellitus come from the Latin and means “sweet or honey” and diabetes , meaning that it “passes through or is eliminated”. And why this curious name? Because diabetics have a high level of sugar or very high glucose in the blood and part of this glucose is eliminated in the urine. The doctors of the antiquity, when they suspected this disease, as they did not have analytical, tested the urine. If it was sweet, it was that the body eliminated sugar and, therefore, the patient had diabetes mellitus.
All symptoms of diabetes are a direct cause of high blood sugar levels.
Types of diabetes mellitus
There are two types of diabetes . Although in children the most frequent is type I, it is increasingly being diagnosed in children and adolescents.
- Type I diabetes
- It is an autoimmune disease where the body itself destroys the cells of the pancreas that make insulin (pancreatic beta cells), therefore, it makes us unable to metabolize glucose. The damage is irreversible and causes type I or juvenile diabetes, since its diagnosis is frequent to appear in childhood. Its treatment is to administer the insulin that the organism does not manufacture. Insulin is applied subcutaneously.
- Type II diabetes
- A few years ago this was the typical diabetes of obese adults. The increase in childhood and juvenile obesity is justifying this increase in the diagnosis of insulin resistance or type II diabetes. It is a multisystemic disorder of heterogeneous nature, in which genetic and environmental factors intervene. Its prevalence has increased in the pediatric age in recent years, in parallel with the increase in obesity. It is characterized by insulin resistance associated with progressive dysfunction of pancreatic cells. In general, the treatment is not giving insulin, because the body makes it, but changes in lifestyle (diet, exerciseand weight loss) and pharmacological treatments that help eliminate insulin resistance. If the disease progresses, administration of insulin may be necessary.
What causes diabetes mellitus?
Insulin is a hormone that is made in a gland called the pancreas. The pancreas is located in the abdomen, behind the stomach and helps in digestion secreting pancreatic juices and also produces insulin depending on the amount of glucose in the blood.
After the intake of food, blood glucose levels rise. At this time, the function of a healthy pancreas is to release insulin so that this glucose (the fuel of the cells) is “introduced” into the body’s cells. Insulin is the key that enables cells to obtain the fuel needed to create energy and perform their functions.
If the insulin is insufficiently produced ( type I diabetes ) or the cells are unable to recognize it ( type II diabetes or insulin resistance), the glucose can not get into the cells, it is not used and it increases its concentration in blood and urine, in an attempt to eliminate the “excess”. The fundamental consequence is that the functioning of the cells is impaired due to lack of energy.
All the symptoms of diabetes derive from this situation.
Type I diabetes mellitus in children: Symptoms and diagnosis
In all medical examinations the following question is very typical: What diagnostic suspicion does a patient have with polydipsia, polyphagia and polyuria?
Let’s decipher the question.
Children with diabetes usually have these symptoms:
- The child urinates many times and in large quantities. The need to urinate occurs even at night (nocturia). It is very typical for children to start wetting the bed at night when they were, previously, continents.
- The child is very thirsty and drinks lots of fluids. This thirst is to compensate for the loss of water through urine.
- The child is very hungry and eats much more than usual.
- Weight loss without dieting.
- Fatigue and fatigue.
These symptoms are very typical in the patient with a diabetic debut and are due to the fact that the increase in blood glucose (blood sugar) pathologically wants to be eliminated by the kidney (this is called glycosuria: presence of sugar in the urine). In order for glucose to be eliminated in the urine it has to be dissolved in large quantities of water, which is why the body demands a greater intake of water. This is the reason for the increase in thirst and urine in the child.
In addition, since there is not enough insulin, the cells can not use glucose as fuel and the signal that the organism sends is of greater energy requirements, that is, a sign that it is “hungry”. This is the cause of increased appetite and food intake.
But, no matter how much the child eats, the cells still lack energy and they have to find a “plan B” to obtain it: extract energy from body fat. This causes unexplained weight loss, fatigue (despite eating so much) and the elimination by urine of waste substances called ketone bodies. These ketone bodies, moreover, cause a very typical fruity breath odor.
The presence of any of the symptoms described justifies a visit to your pediatrician.
The pediatrician quickly suspects the presence of type I diabetes. Usually the family consults in two or three weeks after the onset of the first symptoms. The diagnosis is simple: the blood glucose is measured (glucose in blood), and if it is higher than 200 mg / dl, we have the diagnosis.
Treatment of diabetes mellitus in children
After the diagnosis of diabetes and after starting insulin treatment, some children may have a temporary improvement. The needs to administer external insulin decrease significantly. This is due to the pancreas recovers slightly and begins to produce some insulin.
This remission phase is not presented by all children and is rare in children under three years of age.
After the diagnosis, the specialist indicated to evaluate the child and start the blood glucose controls and the insulin treatment is the infant endocrinologist.
In theory it seems simple to locate if a food has sugar among its ingredients, but in practice it is somewhat more complicated. Sugar has a thousand faces and hides on labels under different names.
- Corn syrup
- Agave syrup
Seven different types of sugar that can go unnoticed
It is made up of a molecule of glucose and a molecule of fructose and is the most widely used sweetener in the world. It represents 75% of all added sugars, of which, it is estimated that 20% is added by the consumer as table sugar and 80% would be the “invisible sugar”. This “invisible sugar” is what the industry adds to products such as soft drinks, bakery products, candies, juices or dairy products. Depending on its purity, sucrose is classified into different types, such as brown sugar (85% sucrose) and white sugar (99.5% sucrose). Yes, you read correctly, brown sugar and white sugar , in fact, are first cousins.SACCHAROSE
It is found naturally in honey (38%) and also in fruits, vegetables and vegetables in different proportions. It is the most soluble and sweet sugar of natural sugars and is used especially in confectionery products for its high sweetening power without crystal formation. In general, the consumption of fructose naturally in the fruits and vegetables themselves does not imply any problem. However, its excess consumption as a sweetener in processed products can lead to intestinal disorders and diarrhea. It also favors synthesis of triglycerides (ie, fats) in the liver. In the long run, this could lead to metabolic diseases such as obesity or type II diabetes.
DEXTROSE or D-GLUCOSE
It is also found naturally in honey (31%) and in fruits, vegetables and vegetables. Its sweetening power is less than that of sucrose. In food technology, it is mainly used to make beverages and bakery products and confectionery. Although glucose is found freely in the blood and used in cells as a source of energy, we have good news: it is not necessary to consume glucose directly. Under normal conditions, our organism can obtain the simple molecules of glucose from the division of complex carbohydrates. Unless we perform high intensity and long duration sports (cycling, marathons), from vegetables and cereals our body can get the glucose it needs.
They are obtained by hydrolysis (breaking) of the starch. Although its flavor is less sweet than that of the previous sweeteners, they are widely used by the industry for its interesting technological properties. They have dispersing, moisturizing, thickener and texturizing capacity. They are used in sausages, sauces, butters, margarines, cakes, infant formulas or products for athletes, among others.
CORN SYRUP WITH HIGH FRUCTOSE CONTENT
In North America it is replacing sucrose as a sweetener. It is a syrup with high concentrations of fructose (up to 90%) with a sweetening power greater than sucrose. It is used in the production of soft drinks, bakery, fruit preserves, dairy products and confectionery. Its use is controversial because different studies refer to the increase in the prevalence of obesity in relation to the increase in consumption of these syrups.
SYRUP OR NECTAR OF AGAVE
It is a type of sugar that is obtained from the Agave tequilana plant with a sweetening power 1,5 superior to sucrose. Although it has a lower glycemic index, its fructose content is high (70%) and therefore, in no case is it a healthy alternative to sugar, as it is sometimes tried to show.
POLYALCOHOLES: sorbitol, maltitol, xylitol, mannitol, erythritol
They are also known as polyols or “sugar alcohols.” Although some are naturally present in different fruits, it is usual to add them to foods as sweeteners since they have characteristics appreciated by the industry and the consumer, for example:
- They do not cause cavities.
- They cause a certain sensation of freshness in the mouth.
- The glycemic response is lower, so they would be well tolerated by diabetics.
- Although its energy value is similar to sugars, its absorption is lower and the average caloric value is 2.4 kcal / g instead of 4 kcal / g.
Polyalcohols are used as additives in products such as chewing gum, candy, ice cream, desserts, pastry products or confectionery. Dietary guidelines for people with diabetes are especially appreciated.
Despite these possible advantages, polyalcohols present some drawbacks such as the laxative effect if consumed in excess. On the other hand, like any other sweetener, they favor the preference for sweet taste which can induce to consume other sugary products. You can learn more about what happens when consuming sugar in this video:
As we have seen, sugar in excess is not healthy … but neither are your cousins! The best way to avoid both sugar and its substitutes is to consume fresh products in their natural form: fruits, vegetables, legumes, cereals, dairy products, meats, fish, etc.
When we go to the supermarket and an ultra-processed product falls into our hands, take out the magnifying glass! We should not obsess, since all these types of sugar are safe and are admitted in the legislation, but knowing how to identify them in order to reduce their consumption should be our goal.
We must take care of glucose values because precisely the abnormal increase in blood levels (hyperglycemia) characterizes diabetes mellitus. This metabolic alteration may be due to a defect in the secretion of insulin by the pancreas, to an irregularity in the action of the same or to both phenomena at the same time. We can talk about two types of diabetes:
Diabetes mellitus type 1: it is characterized by an absolute lack of the hormone insulin that normally makes the pancreas at adequate levels and, therefore, who suffers it should receive treatment with insulin several times a day. It used to be known as “insulin-dependent” diabetes. It can occur at any age, but it is more frequent to occur, abruptly, in children and under 30 years (it is known as “juvenile diabetes”).
Diabetes mellitus type 2: corresponds to approximately 85-90% of all cases of diabetes. Its main characteristic is the resistance of the tissues of the organism to the action of insulin (the beta cells of the pancreas are capable of producing insulin, but the problem is that it can not fulfill its function correctly). The treatment therefore, at least at the beginning, will not be the administration of insulin but will be based on adequate nutrition and exercise. Before it was known as “non-insulin-dependent diabetes” and there is still someone who refers to it as “adult’s diabetes” because it usually occurs after age 40 and older.
To take care of glucose levels and, therefore, reduce the risk of developing diabetes, we must avoid risk factors such as sedentary lifestyle, unhealthy diet, overweight. That’s why changes in lifestyle are the first step in reducing the likelihood of suffering from diabetes. Caring for glucose levels goes through:
Follow a healthy diet
Follow a balanced diet , low in fats and simple sugars (sweets, pastries, precooked …) and abundant in fruits and vegetables.
In general, an aerobic-anaerobic exercise of mild-moderate intensity is advised for 30-60 minutes, three to five days a week. The aerobic (walking, cycling, swimming …) is the one that brings greater benefits, since it favors weight loss and prevents obesity and reduces the onset of cardiovascular diseases (lowers blood pressure, cholesterol and triglycerides, and increases HDL).
Give up smoking
Tobacco alters the metabolism of glucose and lipids, implies a greater difficulty to control glucose levels. Quitting smoking reduces the risk of death in diabetics.
Obesity and sedentary lifestyle are the external factors that most influence the development of type 2 diabetes. Regarding type 1 diabetes, there are no methods to prevent the presentation of this form of diabetes. The best diagnostic test is the amount of fasting blood sugar (basal glycaemia).
Other ways of taking care of glucose values have to do with controlling yourself
People without the risk factors mentioned above should have an analysis starting at age 45, and if basal glycaemia is normal to repeat at 3-year intervals. In the case of obesity (central), history of gestational diabetes, or any of the risk factors, a blood test is recommended and, if it is normal, an annual blood test is done.
One of the most frequent complications of diabetes is hypoglycaemia , which is due to a decrease in blood glucose levels below normal. Also, uncorrected severe hyperglycaemia could lead to diabetic ketoacidosis (in type 1 diabetes) or hyperosmolar non-ketotic coma (in type 2 diabetes), severe acute situations.
Glucose is the main source of energy necessary to ensure the proper functioning of the body’s cells. These need energy to be active, maintain vital functions (heartbeat, digestive movements, breathing …), body temperature and muscle movements. Somehow, you could say that glucose is for the human body like gasoline for a car, because it provides enough energy to develop normal daily activity .
- What is it?
- How is it regulated?
What is glucose?
From the nutritional point of view, it is a sugar of simple composition ( monosaccharide) that enters the body through food. During the process of digestion, a chain of chemical transformations is launched, along the digestive tract, which converts food into smaller substances, nutrients, and these in turn are broken down into even smaller elements. For example, foods rich in carbohydrates are transformed into glucose, which is its simplest component. Well, when it reaches the small intestine, it passes to the blood and from the bloodstream to the cells.
More precisely, the blood is responsible for transporting it to the liver , brain and other cells of the body. Now, to enter the cells and be able to be used as fuel, you need the mediation of insulin. This hormone is like the key that, fitted in the lock, opens the door of the cells. The cells of the nervous system and the brain are the only ones in the whole body that receive glucose directly from the bloodstream, without the mediation of insulin. In addition, for these cells it is the exclusive source of energy.
How is the amount of blood glucose regulated?
After the ingestion and subsequent digestion of a meal increases the level of glucose in the blood and, consequently, the pancreas begins to produce insulin. This hormone is responsible for increasing the uptake of glucose by cells in all tissues, so that they burn and use it as fuel. But insulin not only fulfills this function, but also activates the cellular mechanisms necessary for part of the glucose to be transformed into glycogen. This compound is stored in the liver and muscles and serves as an energy reserve, in the short term, which can be used when you need energy to make an extra effort or in periods of fasting.
When the cells are well supplied and can no longer use more glucose, insulin intervenes again. But now, its mission is to give the order to convert the surplus sugar into fat that, subsequently, will be stored in the adipose tissue cells, also as reserve material.
When the amount decreases (during periods of fasting, after physical exercise …), insulin levels also decrease, because otherwise there would be a risk that the glucose would fall too low and not enough to feed the cells of the brain. When the blood glucose falls below normal, another pancreatic hormone comes into play: glucagon. This hormone has antagonistic functions to those of insulin, since it activates the mobilization of reserves stored in the body to obtain energy.