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Glossary

Please note these definitions present a simplified picture of some very complex ideas. They are designed to help people who are not health professionals understand the science behind sugar and health.

  • Added sugar

    Any sugar added in preparation of foods, either at the table, in the kitchen or in the processing plant. This may include sucrose, high fructose corn syrup and others.

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  • Adiponectin

    A protein created in fat cells that makes the body more sensitive to its own insulin and reduces inflammation. There are decreased levels of adiponection in people who are obese, or have Type 2 diabetes or have Metabolic Syndrome.

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  • Cancer

    Abnormal, uncontrolled cell growth in a part of the body, many types. Another of the chronic diseases.

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  • Carbohydrate

    One of the three major groups of nutrients we eat. Usually more than one half our calories come form carbohydrate, sugars and starches are two common types. Each gram of carbohydrate produces 4 calories of energy if burned by the body as fuel

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  • Chronic diseases

    Diseases which last months or years, do not go away on their own, and are usually managed and not cured. For the first time in history diseases that are not caused by infection (non-communicable diseases) are causing more injury and death worldwide than are those caused by infection. In the US this has been true for decades but the rest of the world is catching up as our diet and lifestyle are becoming more common globally.

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  • Cirrhosis

    An abnormal condition in which healthy liver is replaced by scar tissue. In cirrhosis, the liver no longer works well to digest food or protect us from toxins. Eventually, liver failure will occur when most normal parts of the liver have been replaced by scar tissue. The only treatment is liver transplant.

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  • Conflicts of interest

    Researchers have conflicts of interest when their work is significantly dependent on a funding source that holds a vested interest in the outcome of their research.

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  • Daily reference value

    Recommendations from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the amount of protein, fat, cholesterol and carbohydrates a person should eat in a day. Food labels are based on these numbers, which is shown as "DV%"

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  • Dementia

    A group of chronic diseases of the brain that cause, memory loss, behavior changes, and abnormal thinking and reasoning.

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  • Dental and gum related diseases

    Cavities (caries) and gum inflammation (gingivitis or periodontal disease), can lead to whole body inflammatory and infectious problems

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  • Diabetes mellitus

    Usually shortened to just diabetes. Sometimes called sugar diabetes. Look at Type 1 Diabetes and Type 2 Diabetes for more information

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  • Dietary fiber

    Also called fiber or fibre or roughage, is the part of plants that is not digestible by humans and have beneficial effects in humans. There is still some controversy but fiber is generally agreed to reduce cholesterol, decrease the rise in blood sugar and insulin that occurs after eating, reduce blood pressure, prevent constipation, change the intestinal bacteria (flora) in favorable ways, aid in weight loss and increase satiety. The Institute of Medicine is in the process of updating their definition and recommendations.

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  • Fat

    One of the three major groups of nutrients we eat. Much of this website is related to problems associated with too much fat storage in the body. Each gram of fat produces 9 calories of energy if burned by the body as fuel. Fat can be stored in many places in the body. We generally think of fat as under the skin (subcutaneous), but the fat that may be most damaging to us is the fat stored in the liver and around the organs of the abdomen (intrahepatic and visceral or abdominal or intra-abdominal)

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  • Fatty acids

    A type of fat in our body and our food. Three fatty acids are combined with another chemical called glycerol to form a triglyceride.

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  • Fatty liver

    An abnormal condition in which too much fat is stored in the liver. "Too much fat" means more than one tenth of the liver is made of fat.

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  • Fructose

    A sugar that we eat. Also called fruit sugar. Most fructose comes in sucrose (table sugar, cane sugar, beet sugar), or from high-fructose corn syrup.

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  • Fruit drinks

    A drink that is not 100% fruit juice and may have any amount or any type of fruit juice. The food label will say how much of the drink is fruit juice. If ingredients are shown there is usually added sugar in the form of High Fructose Corn Syrup

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  • Fruit juice

    This is a drink that is made entirely (100%) from the liquid which comes from squeezing or grinding up the part of the fruit we would normally eat. Sugar is not added to this drink. The drink will have the sugars that come from the food itself. The juice will likely have less fiber than the fruit. Fiber serves to decrease the speed and amount of sugars absorbed from sugary foods.

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  • Ghrelin

    A hormone produced by the stomach that acts on the brain to tell us we are hungry and to eat.

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  • Glucose

    Glucose is a sugar we eat. It is found in starch. It is the main fuel for our bodies. It is the sugar measured when we have a blood test to measure the blood sugar.

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  • Heart disease

    A broad term for a group of chronic diseases of the heart, these diseases include problems with blood supply to heart muscle, problems with heart valves and the electrical system of the heart. Another term you will see used to mean the same thing is cardiovascular disease.

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  • Hepatotoxin

    A liver poison. Hepatotoxic means that something is poisonous to the liver

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  • High-Fructose Corn Syrup

    (HFCS) A concentrated form of liquid sugar which may contain a wide range of fructose concentrations. Most commonly it contains either 42% or 55% fructose, but may contain up to 90% fructose.

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  • Hormone

    A chemical created by the body and released into the blood stream. Upon reaching another part of the body or organ, a hormone effects the function of that bodily part or organ.

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  • Inflammation

    The human body uses special cells and chemicals to fight against injury, poisons or diseases. These cells and chemicals can be seen or measured and when they are present that is called inflammation. Too much inflammation can cause damage to the body and is a part of what happens in many diseases, like cancer and heart disease to name only two.

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  • Insulin

    Insulin is a messenger released from the pancreas after eating, which shunts energy (glucose or triglycerides) from the blood into fat cells for storage. Insulin is given to some people with diabetes to lower the blood glucose; it leaves the blood and enters the fat cell for storage.

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  • Leptin

    A hormone produced mostly in fat cells in response to eating and to how much energy is stored in the body. It effects the brain and tells us we have eaten enough and to stop eating.

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  • Liquid sugars

    In this website, this means the same thing as sugar-sweetened beverages, or sugary drinks. In the food industry this term is used to mean concentrated sugar sources in liquid form used for food production.

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  • Liver

    The largest internal organ. It weighs about three to four pounds and is located under the lower edge of the ribs on the right side. It helps us digest our food and remove toxins from our blood. "Hepat" in a word means liver, so an "hepato-toxin" is a liver poison or something that can cause damage to the liver

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  • Liver disease

    A broad term meaning any bodily process in which the liver is injured or does not work as it is supposed to. In this website we focus on liver diseases in which the diet hurts the liver

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  • Metabolic syndrome

    Also called Syndrome X is a group of body abnormalities that go along with increased risk of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and stroke. The definition of this syndrome varies a little worldwide.

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  • Non-alcoholic Cirrhosis

    Cirrhosis that happens for reasons other than drinking too much alcohol.

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  • non-alcoholic fatty liver disease

    (also called NAFLD) Fatty liver that is not caused by drinking too much alcohol. Too much alcohol drinking can cause fatty liver diseases and steatohepatitis. NAFLD happens to people who are overweight, have diabetes, high cholesterol or high triglycerides in their blood. Rapid changes in weight can also cause NAFLD. It can happen to even those without any of the things listed above. It is common, up to 31% of adults in the United States have NAFLD.

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  • Non-alcoholic steatohepatitis

    (also called NASH) A more dangerous type of fatty liver than NAFLD. There is inflammation in NASH. Inflammation damages the liver with NASH over time. Healthy liver cells die, scar tissue forms, and the liver may stop working. NASH is a step toward cirrhosis. These changes occur over a period of years.

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  • Pancreas

    The pancreas is an internal organ that helps us digest our food by making insulin and other chemicals.

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  • Pro-inflammatory cytokines

    A group of chemical produced in increased amounts by people who are obese or have Type 2 diabetes or have Metabolic Syndrome. They cause irritation and damage in various parts of the body and likely are part of what causes insulin resistance, NASH, heart disease and other problems associated with Type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, or obesity.

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  • Protein

    One of the three major groups of nutrients we eat. It is found in varying amounts in a wide variety of foods. It is essential for life. Each gram of protein produces 4 calories of energy if burned by the body as fuel

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  • Starch

    A chemical made of many glucoses stuck together. It is used by many plants to store sugars for energy. Humans eat starches as a source for energy from glucose. Starches we eat include potatoes, corn, rice, wheat, among others.

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  • Steatosis

    Abnormal storage of fat in cells of an organ. When this happens, the organ gets bigger and becomes paler in color.

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  • Stroke

    Rapid loss of blood supply to a portion of the brain causing brain damage. This may lead to difficulty with memory, thought, speech, sensation, and movement. Stroke is usually due to blockage of blood vessels in the neck or brain. It is more common as people age, and is associated with high blood pressure, heart disease and diabetes.

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  • Sucrose

    Also called table sugar. Your body breaks sucrose into glucose and fructose to use them as fuel.

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  • Sugar-sweetened beverages

    (SSB) Means the same as liquid sugar, or sugary drinks.

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  • Sugars

    Sugars are chemicals made of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen found which taste sweet and are found in food. They are an important part of what we eat and drink and of our bodies. On this site, sugar is used to mean simple sugars (monosaccharides) like fructose or glucose, and disaccharides like table sugar (sucrose). Sucrose is two simple sugars stuck together for example (see Table sugar). Sugars are a type of carbohydrate. Carbohydrates are energy sources for our bodies Sugars enter the blood stream very quickly after being eaten.

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  • Sugary drinks

    Means the same as sugar-sweetened beverages or liquid sugars.

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  • Table sugar

    Sucrose, also called granulated sugar, is two simple sugars stuck together in a single molecule. Sucrose is made of one fructose and one glucose molecule. On this website, one level teaspoon of table sugar weighs 4.2 grams and has 16.8 calories.

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  • Toxic

    Poisonous, capable of causing damage

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  • Toxicity

    Poisoning

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  • Toxin

    Something that is poisonous or can cause damage

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  • Trans fats

    Also called trans fatty acids. Almost all of these are fats that are added to foods during processing. Trans fats raise bad cholesterol (LD) and decrease good cholesterol (HDL) and raise the chances that you will have heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes

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  • Triglycerides

    The most common type of fat in our body and in our food. We can eat triglycerides, our bodies can make triglyceride, and our livers can turn excess sugar into triglycerides. If we do not burn triglycerides as fuel, they are stored as fat in the liver and elsewhere in the body.

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  • Type 1 Diabetes

    A type of diabetes mellitus in which the pancreas does not make enough insulin to keep the amount of sugar in the blood in the normal range. This means the glucose in the bloodstream is too high. Type 1 diabetes also causes many changes in the body that lead to damage to many parts of the body over time.

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  • Type 2 Diabetes

    Type 2 diabetes mellitus, formerly called Non-Insulin Dependent Diabetes Mellitus (NIDDM) and Adult Onset Diabetes (AODM), is a disease in which our body acts as if it does not have enough insulin to keep our blood sugar levels down at normal levels. This is likely a combined effect of the body not being normally sensitive to the insulin the pancreas does make combined with the pancreas not making enough insulin for the circumstances. There is a genetic component to this disease. The body uses insulin as a signal to store glucose in liver, muscle, and fat cells. High blood glucose causes many changes in the body that lead to damage to many parts of the body over time

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  • World Health Organization

    The World Health Organization (WHO) is the directing and coordinating authority for health within the United Nations system. It is responsible for providing leadership on global health matters, shaping the health research agenda, setting norms and standards, articulating evidence-based policy options, providing technical support to countries and monitoring and assessing health trends. Website: http://www.who.int

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SugarScience Facts

Growing scientific evidence shows that too much added sugar, over time, is linked to diabetes, heart disease and liver disease.

SugarScience Facts

Too much fructose in added sugar can damage your liver just like too much alcohol.

SugarScience Facts

Today, 31% of American adults and 13% of kids suffer from non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD).

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