Sugar, Helping the Medicine Go Down
Having a discussion regarding the possible effects of regular consumption of High Fat/High Carbohydrate Meals (HFHC) upon metabolic conditions in humans (including the promotion of inflammatory disease states), without taking into consideration the type of fat, and the type of carbohydrate involved, is about as meaningful as talking about the color of cheese on Mars…it’s a reddish brown by the way.
Although it probably is true that there isn’t ever really such a thing as a perfectly controlled scientific experiment (and learning how to extrapolate from incomplete data can be very useful), failing to examine the effects of the saturated and unsaturated fats, when ingested with different combinations of glucose, or fructose and sucrose for example, very often produces misleading, as well as potentially invalid results and interpretations.
Regular intake of starch or glucose in combination with a highly unsaturated fat source can be a recipe for disaster. In fact, when it comes to the creation of physiologically inflammatory conditions, few things are as effective as the polyunsaturated fats.
Regardless, too much starch or glucose, even on its own can be problematic. For starters, when enough starch is digested alone, it will release almost pure glucose into the blood, which then powerfully stimulates insulin, quickly disposing of any excess by turning it into fat, with less than optimal amounts being stored as glycogen in the liver. This surge in insulin can then also result in a fall in blood sugar levels and a subsequent increase in cortisol secretion.
Excess cortisol can, over time, change metabolic conditions in a variety of different ways, interfering with thyroid function, promoting serotonin secretion and the increased release of bacterial endotoxin, playing into the promotion of numerous factors, all of which are known to fuel inflammation.
On top of this, starch, particularly when under cooked and when digestion is already slowed, has a tendency to feed bacteria in the intestines, again leading to an increase in the release of endotoxin, causing inflammation in the intestines, as well as the liver, and eventually throughout the body.
Consuming a mixture of starch (or glucose) and the polyunsaturated fats can eventually lead to a significant escalation in the severity of the above circumstances.
“Subjects in the 3 groups ingested a 300-kcal drink of 75 g glucose…orange juice…or water along with a 900-kcal HFHC meal (egg-muffin and sausage-muffin sandwiches and 2 hash-brown potatoes that contained 81 g carbohydrates, 51 g fat, and 32 g protein)”
The breakdown products of the highly unsaturated fats interfere with blood sugar regulation in numerous ways, chronically preventing the ability of the cell to use glucose, greatly increasing cortisol secretion and many other factors involved in the inflammation process, including serotonin and estrogen release, as well as the pro-inflammatory free radicals, cytokines and prostaglandins.
As all of this begins to interfere more with thyroid function and digestion, the ability of the starches to promote blood sugar dysregulation and bacterial endotoxin secretion increases significantly, eventually causing a vicious cycle of systemic inflammatory issues, in no small amount because of the resulting promotion of the release of greater amounts of polyunsaturated fats out of storage, as free fatty acids into the blood.
This is where sugar ingestion in the form of fructose or sucrose from orange juice as one example, enters the equation. Due to the fact that fructose has been shown to stimulate metabolic performance in numerous ways, acting similarly to the active thyroid hormone (T3), it helps to protect against the inflammation promoting effects of both the starches and the polyunsaturated fats.
By raising the metabolic rate, fructose improves the ability of the cell to burn glucose, thus increasing the amount of starch which can be safely consumed, protecting from many of the potentially stress promoting blood sugar effects, including those already mentioned in relation to insulin and cortisol as well as other possibly inflammatory substances.
The manner via which fructose very effectively promotes glycogen storage (as well as reducing the insulin stimulating impact of glucose), creates more layers of protection against stress, helping to stabilize blood sugar levels, suppressing cortisol release, assisting in the fueling of thyroid and digestive function, and once again helping to reduce systemic levels of endotoxin and other related toxic substances.
“…the intake of orange juice was able to neutralize the oxidative and inflammatory stress caused by the HFHC meal and the associated increases in…endotoxin concentrations…”
Not only does this help to protect against some of the inflammatory effects of the polyunsaturated fats being consumed, it also goes a long way towards prevention of the excessive release of stored fat into the blood for alternative fuel.
A consistent supply of glycogen also helps, by reducing cortisol, to protect against the many inflammation promoting by-products released into circulation as a result of the excessive, yet avoidable breakdown of muscle tissue.
So from this perspective, one can begin to see how misleading it can be to refer to the inflammatory effects of the regular consumption of foods which are being described as high in sugar or fat or both. This is especially true when you discover that many of these foods are, for starters, actually high in glucose or starch, rather than fructose or sucrose, as well as having excessive and harmful quantities of the highly unsaturated fats, and numerous other toxic ingredients which can also play a big role.
Even reasonably well performed scientific experiments with very important findings can fall short of their potential to bring clarity into what is, for the vast majority of people, misleading and confusing.
“In conclusion, the intake of orange juice in combination with an HFHC meal prevents… the inflammatory response…”
Another way of approaching such a study might be to include a comparison between one group that is being fed the HFHC meal made up of foods that are high in sucrose and fructose and predominantly saturated fats, and a second group that is being fed the HFHC meal like the one mentioned earlier, which is likely high in starch and significant amounts of polyunsaturated fats.
This would then be able to provide far more in the way of meaning and usefulness, especially in relation to the different results which come from the addition of either orange juice (or some other source of sucrose and fructose) or a pure glucose drink.
“…there may be food products that may be noninflammatory and protective against the proinflammatory effects of other foods. These observations are relevant to the role of postprandial inflammation in the pathogenesis of atherosclerosis, cardiovascular disease, and insulin resistance.”
No matter how significant and truthful it may be, it probably isn’t really enough to simply say that there are some foods that are protective against the harmful inflammatory effects of other foods, without also attempting to examine some of the most pertinent factors making it so.
The fact that orange juice can have such a powerfully anti-inflammatory effect when imbibed with some potentially very inflammatory foods, becomes far more revealing when one is able to look at the many implications of this, and test out the hypothesis with a variety of different scenarios, instead of relying on a watered down description that could just as easily be including foods, such as the saturated fats and fruit sugars, that are protective in their own right.
Of course, there are a number of possible reason why the majority of studies fail to answer such questions. In some cases they are simply less than optimally designed and performed.
In other cases, there are powerful agendas at play which have the ability to get in the way of findings, which might be clearly suggesting (in the context of a diet with sufficient protein, vitamins and minerals), that white sugar or fructose and saturated fat can be protective, even against the powerfully pro inflammatory effects of the starches when combined with the more unsaturated fats.
Personally I think it’s that nobody wants to admit that it’s alright to have your dessert before your dinner, or maybe even, for that matter, instead of your dinner.
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Glucose ingestion induces an increase in intranuclear nuclear factor kappaB, a fall in cellular inhibitor kappaB, and an increase in tumor necrosis factor alpha messenger RNA by mononuclear cells in healthy human subjects.