It’s hard to believe that something so delicious can be so detrimental to one’s health. Once sugar is swallowed into the stomach, digestive juices move it to the small intestine. Enzymes break down sugar into either glucose or fructose. Unfortunately, most processed sugar foods use processed fructose or glucose, which can hurt the body.
Sugar Effects On Your Body?
Added refined carbs and sugar intake can cause obesity, higher blood pressure, acne, inflammation, diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and fatty liver disease. High sugar consumption accelerates telomere shortening, which speeds up cellular aging. Additionally, sugar sends a message to the brain from the first bite, making you feel happy. This dopamine rush is similar to a high that an addict feels, leading to sugar addiction.
What Does Glucose Do?
Glucose triggers the pancreas to secrete insulin, a hormone that takes this glucose from the blood and delivers it as energy to various cells in the body. Too much glucose at one time can lead to a quick energy rush and then the sugar crash not soon after. Ultimately, insulin blocks the production of leptin, the hunger hormone that tells a person when they are full. This means that the higher one’s insulin levels are, the more hungry one will feel and consume more food.
When the body is in starvation mode, the brain tells the body to store glucose as belly fat. When the body pumps out too much insulin, its cells become resistant to it, and it is left in the bloodstream leading to pre-diabetes or Type II Diabetes.
What Does Fructose Do?
Much like glucose, it goes through the small intestine and bloodstream. This sugar goes to the liver, which metabolizes it into something the body can use. If too much fructose is consumed over time, the body stores it as fat in the liver leading to nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. Too much of this type of sugar also can lower good cholesterol or High-density lipoprotein (HDL) in the body.
It also spikes the production of triglycerides, a type of fat that goes straight to the arteries, raising one’s risk for a stroke or heart attack. The liver needs extra insulin when consumed in excess, sending the pancreas into overdrive. This can lead to systemic inflammation throughout the body, putting an individual at a higher risk for diabetes and obesity. It’s important to understand that fructose from fruit or natural sugars is not harmful in any way to the body, even in excess.
Six Reasons Why Sugar is Bad
- Added sugar has no nutrients. Essentially it is a lot of calories with no benefit for the body. These empty calories have no essential fats, vitamins or minerals, proteins, or energy. According to Authority Nutrition, eating 10-20% of one’s daily calories in sugar can lead to major nutrient deficiencies over time.
- Sugar is bad for teeth as it leaves bad bacteria in the mouth, causing tooth decay.
- Extra sugar means more fructose, which leads to one’s liver overworking. This can cause non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.
- Sugar leads to insulin resistance, the beginning stage of a metabolic syndrome or diabetes. Yes, insulin is important to the body as it allows blood sugar to enter cells from the bloodstream and tells them where to go. However, having too much glucose is highly toxic and can lead to complications of diabetes, such as blindness.
- Too much glucose can lead to insulin resistance, leading to Type II Diabetes. When the cells become resistant, the pancreas cells make more insulin. This leads to elevated blood sugar in the body leading to Type II Diabetes.
- Sugar may cause cancer. Cancer is characterized by the growth and multiplication of cells. While insulin is the key hormone in this type of growth in the body, there is no real proof that it causes the deadly disease. Many scientists believe that having constantly elevated glucose levels in the body can lead to cancer. Also, the metabolic problems associated with excess sugar and inflammation are precursors to cancer.
Changes You Should Make Today to Your Diet
By no means do we believe you should stop consuming sugar altogether, just be more aware of a healthy sugar consumption level. Cut back on things slowly if you have a sugar addiction.
- Watch out for processed versus unprocessed foods. While fruit does contain fructose, it comes in a natural form and with fiber. You don’t have the same sugar crash after consuming it as a sugary soda drink. Because of the fiber, the person consuming it feels satisfied.
- Stop drinking sugary beverages. On top of the sugar in these drinks, there’s a ton of sodium. This makes someone feel thirstier and, in turn, buy more soda. Essentially almost everything besides water has some type of sugar in it, and it will make it hard to keep your appetite under control. If you can’t give them up, drink those 20 minutes after a meal.
- Cook your own meals from unprocessed foods to keep sugar levels at bay. Avoid pre-packaged dinners as much as possible. Buy foods with more fiber. For instance, make sure you’re buying whole wheat bread that is whole wheat.
- Natural sugars such as coconut sugar or agave are better for you, but these ingredients are heavily processed and contain up to 90% fructose.
- The easiest way to keep sugar consumption down is not to keep it in the house. If you have to do a little work and go out to get it, it will determine whether you are just hungry or want something sweet. It also limits how often you eat these sugary treats, which is better for you overall.
While it seems implausible to tell everyone to stop eating sugar, it’s important to be aware of one’s levels. By being more aware of the things we’re consuming, we have a better chance at optimal health.