While sugar seems like a rather innocent and delicious substance, the truth behind its consumption is bittersweet. Harmful eating habits can severely impact your health, in more than one way.
But what exactly is too much sugar and how can we limit our intake? It’s challenging to know where to get started, especially when it’s in almost everything we like to eat.
Below we are going to take a look at exactly how sugar is harming your health so that you can start making a positive change today.
Obesity and Diabetes
The connection between sugar and obesity is well-established and is backed by numerous studies. Experts have found a strong correlation between high sugar consumption and excessive weight gain.
Processed foods that contain high-fructose corn syrup or other sweeteners are readily metabolized by the liver and stored as fat. This, in turn, raises the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.
High sugar consumption is also linked to insulin resistance. This is the hormone that is responsible for our body’s absorption of glucose. High blood sugar levels can cause a variety of symptoms including tiredness, increased thirst, blurred vision, and unintentional weight loss.
Sugar may taste like a treat, but it doesn’t end up that way in your gut. It’s a primary cause of bloating and reduces beneficial bacteria which helps keep everything working correctly.
In fact, consuming sugar and other foods that harm gut health can cause a variety of harmful issues. This includes leaky gut syndrome where bacteria and toxins can enter the bloodstream from your intestinal lining.
Research has shown that sugar may have detrimental effects on brain health, particularly cognitive function. Consuming high levels regularly has been shown to impair memory and learning abilities, and may even contribute to the development of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s.
Additionally, a diet high in sugar has been found to impact mood and mental health, with studies linking it to an increased risk of anxiety, depression, and other disorders. You may have noticed this when you experience a “sugar crash” and feel unsettled and moody until you eat again.
Sugary foods are not only responsible for cognitive loss but are also implicated in the development of heart disease. Consuming high quantities adversely affects blood lipids, leading to elevated levels of bad cholesterol and triglycerides.
One recent study by BMC medicine shows that those who take most of their energy from sugar are at a 6% higher risk of heart disease and a 10% higher risk of stroke. This study did not include naturally occurring sugars found in fruits but focused on those located in artificial products.
When sugar is consumed, it attaches to proteins in the bloodstream, forming harmful free radicals. These advanced glycation end products (known as AGEs) can accelerate the aging process by damaging skin collagen and elastin which leads to sagging and wrinkles.
Additionally, high sugar levels in the blood can increase inflammation throughout the body, further contributing to the aging process. The more you eat, the more harm can be done, which is why it’s extremely important to select healthy recipes and make wiser food choices.
One of the lesser-known facts about sugar is its connection to cancer. Cancer cells are known to utilize glucose to fuel their growth. In short, consumption contributes to favorable conditions for cells to thrive.
Furthermore, studies have shown that elevated insulin levels have been linked to an increased risk of breast, endometrial, and colorectal cancers. All the more reason to watch what you eat.
The damaging effects of sweet treats are not limited to our internal systems. Poor dental health is another significant side effect and one that can be extremely uncomfortable.
Drinks, such as coffee, tea, and fizzy beverages (often favored by busy people), contribute to the formation of dental plaque and cavity-causing bacteria. They produce acid in response to sugar, which then erodes the tooth enamel, eventually leading to decay and even gum disease.
Of course, regular brushing and maintaining your oral health can combat this, but many aren’t doing this correctly. Improper brushing and flossing will cause any hidden food to be left behind.
The adverse effects of sugar on our health are extensive. We must become informed consumers and be mindful of the sugar that sneaks into our diet. By reducing our intake we can lower the risk of developing diseases and all live healthier lives.