Toxicology of sugar and salt

Imagine our diet without sugar and salt, is it possible? Our tongue also has special receptors for tasting sweet and salty things. We are used to that sweet and salty taste and it is impossible to have food without sugar and salt. We use several forms of sugar such as honey, jaggery, syrups, fruit juices, sweetmeats, caramel, candies, chocolates and cakes. Medicines are sugar coated which would otherwise have been unpalatable. Salted grains, cashews, pistachio, peanuts, biscuits and chips are everyone's favorite. Salt is used to preserve meat and fish products. Even WHO recommended formula of electoral contains essential amount of sugar and salt. The very common thing about sugar and salt is that they don't have any nutritional value but only empty calories. After the consumption of sugar or salt, our body needs to waste considerable amount of energy to utilize these 2 forms. Eating both of them in moderate or required amounts is essential but what happens by their over consumption? Medically both have a reputation of being white refined poisons. Let's discuss their toxicology in sweet and salty ways.

Sugar is a carbohydrate having chemical formula C12H22O11. Natural sugar is obtained from sugarcane, beet, grains and fruits; it is chemically refined as dextrose or glucose. Well known sugar disease is diabetes. Measurement of blood sugar level is the principle parameter of detection of diabetes in a person. Diabetes is caused by impaired pancreas which can't produce enough insulin when blood sugar rises. Hence natural sugar control mechanism is despaired in diabetic people. Hyper and hypoglycemia are two worst sugar related conditions; a diabetic person may face with tragic effects. Over intake of sugar is associated with formation of gall stones, deficiency of minerals like calcium, potassium, magnesium, sodium and iron. It also leads to vital B vitamins' deficiency. Sugar metabolism ends up in the formation of toxic residues which burdens functioning of kidneys and liver. It causes acidity and carbonic poisoning of blood. Large amount of calcium is used up to neutralize this acidity which induces calcium deficiency and related disorders like osteoporosis. Malfunctioning of nervous system, epileptic seizures, criminal behavior, cell autolysis, depression, dizziness, nausea, Parkinson's and Alzheimer's disease, loss of collagen elasticity, myopia and eye disorders, pancreatic and gastric cancer, constipation, increase in cholesterol, obesity, spleenomegaly, exacerbation of PMS, increased platelet adhesiveness, kidney stones, Gum diseases and other dental problems, appendicitis, varicose veins, eczematous skin infections, heart and kidney diseases, arthritis, suppressed immune system, breast and ovarian cancers are some of the disorders and diseases associated with over sugar consumption.

Sugar substitutes such as artificial sweeteners are also used like natural sugar. As their name suggests, they are sweet tasting chemicals many times sweeter than normal sugar; hence required in very small amounts. Some of the artificial sweeteners like saccharine, aspartame, sucralase, neotame, acesulfame potassium and cyclamate are being used in making confectionaries, bakery products, fruit juice concentrates, icecreams, artificial honey, cosmetics like toothpaste and medicines. Being synthetic chemicals, they are more hazardous than natural sugar. Acesulfame potassium is acetoacetic acid derivative and causes hypoglycemia, tumors of lung, heart and thymus gland. It also induces chronic respiratory disease and leukemia. Aspartame is dipeptide of aspartic acid and methylated ester of phenylalanine. Phenylketoneuria, neuropsychiatric disorders, mood swings, hallucinations, memory impairment and seizures are some of the toxic effects of aspartame. Saccharine is O-toluene sulfonamide derivative which is cytotoxic and carcinogenic chemical. It induces dermatological infections, bowl irritation, kidney dysfunction, bladder cancer, opisthotonos, odema, oliguria, albuminuria and it is not recommended for use by children and pregnant women. Sucralase or splenda is chlorinated sucrose derivative. It functions like chlorinated pesticides. It causes hepatomegaly, caecal enlargement, nephrosis, renal mineralization and chronic immunological and neurological disorders. One of the natural artificial sweeteners, stevia, obtained from Stevia rebaudiana plant is 300 times sweeter than natural sugar. It is recommended for use of diabetic people but allergic reactions, bloating, irritable bowel and diarrohea have been reported in some cases. Use of tagatose and sorbitol as sweeteners is also popular for their cheapness and availability but they also have specific toxic side effects.

Salt is natural mineral compound of sodium and chlorine (NaCl). It is also known as table salt. All salt related diseases are related either to insufficient or excess intake. Toxic effects of salt cause cardiovascular diseases like stroke, heart burn, cardiac enlargement, increase or decrease in blood pressure, hypernatremia, renal dysfunctions like odema and failure. Salt also induces gastric ulcers and cancer, osteoporosis and emetics (attempted over use) to death. High blood pressure results from increased salt intake and vice versa. Salt works on kidney function to make it hold more water. Excess and retained water raises blood pressure and puts strain on kidneys, arteries, heart and brain. Arterial damage by rupture or clogging, reduced oxygen supply, angina and heart attack, increased concentration of sodium in blood to toxic level and kidney poisoning or failure, dementia are all associated with excess salt uptake. Salt substitutes such as potassium chloride are available but excess consumption leads to hyperkalaemia, kidney and heart dysfunction.

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