Sugar is bad for you.
This is not really new knowledge – unless you have been living under a rock, you will have heard quite a bit about how sugar (especially refined sugar) is bad for you.
But do you know why this sweet ingredient is bad for you?
There are actually quite a few reasons.
Here, in fact, is a list of the ten main reasons why sugar is bad for you.
1. Sugar can cause insulin resistance
The release of more insulin in our body is one of the direct effects of sugar.
Insulin regulates our blood sugar. It signals the cells in our muscles, body fat, and liver to grab glucose out of the bloodstream and put glucose in our cells.
If we regularly have too much sugar, over time our body can develop insulin resistance. This means the cells in our muscles, body fat and liver start to ignore or resist what the hormone insulin is trying to do.
Soft drinks are the worst culprit when it comes to this, as the sugar in these drinks gets absorbed by our body very quickly, which in turn increases our blood sugar and insulin rapidly. Drink them regularly, and guess what happens to our internal mechanism, i.e insulin’s ability to regulate blood sugar…
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2. Sugar increases the risk of developing diabetes
One of the fastest and easiest ways to develop diabetes is through excess sugar intake. If your blood sugar is high regularly, you could be well on your way to developing diabetes.
Here’s how that works: once you become insulin resistant, the pancreas produces more insulin, but the tissues can’t respond properly. Over time, the pancreas becomes tired with the overproduction of insulin, which then leads to developing diabetes.
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3. Sugar can cause weight gain
Sugar is not all bad, of course. Our body actually needs some sugar, because sugar (or rather, glucose) is the source of energy.
The problem starts when the sugar intake exceeds our body’s requirement.
When you take in too much sugar, the surplus sugar is stored as fat. There is a reason why weight gain and obesity have a direct correlation to excess sugar.
So how much sugar is the maximum daily amount? According to the NHS, you should not have more than 30g of added sugars a day (for ages 11 and over).
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30g of added sugars a day is the maximum recommended amount
4. Sugar raises blood pressure and heart disease risk
Excess sugar can decrease the production of HDL (high-density lipoproteins) aka the “good” cholesterol. HDL protects us against heart disease.
Also, insulin resistance can cause raised blood pressure levels by affecting our kidneys, arteries and possibly areas in the brain that are responsible for blood pressure control. This, in turn, can lead to health problems like high blood pressure, hypertension, and so on.
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5. Sugar can mess with our brain’s signals
Sugar (especially refined white sugar) can be quite addictive.
Although not proven conclusively yet, but sugar does seem to have an addictive effect on our brains.
When we have sugar regularly, we may actually be training our brain to crave sweet-tasting foods, which then leads to increased intake of sugar.
Sugar may also stimulate the pleasure centers of our brain (similar to the effects of drugs), which can also make us crave the sweet stuff.
The more we have it, the harder it gets to resist it.
6. Sugar can leave you feeling hungry
Sugar might taste nice, but it lacks any sort of nutritional value (talk about empty calories!).
Since there aren’t any real nutrients in sugar (especially refined sugar), our bodies might crave food even after having sweet stuff, because we need nutrients.
The end result might be (and often is) eating extra calories overall.
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7. Excess sugar harms our brain
A study done by Oregon State University found that a high-sugar diet caused cognitive impairments, including memory problems.
Sugar has also been found to have a potential link with Alzheimer’s disease. A UK study, led by Dr. Omar Kassar of the University of Bath, discovered the “tipping point” when blood sugar negatively affects the progression of Alzheimer’s.
Yeah, that ice cream at lunch might be helping your cravings, but it definitely is not helping your brain.
8. Sugar can cause fatty liver disease
As mentioned earlier, excess sugar gets stored as fat. Fat, after all, is how our body reserves food to use later.
The problem is, when sugar is consumed in large amounts, the glucose is metabolized in the liver which can then lead to the production of fat in the liver.
Excess fat in your body isn’t great as it is, but it is even worse to have excess fat in the liver.
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9. Sugar causes tooth cavities
You know all those times your parents warned you about how chocolate will rot your teeth? They weren’t actually far off the facts.
Sugar actually has a direct link to tooth decay, which in turn leads to the development of cavities.
Here’s how it works: bacterias inside our mouth love sugar. When these bacterias feast on the sugar in our mouth, they leave a byproduct – which is acid. The acid attacks the enamel of our teeth, which causes it to erode and contributes to the development of cavities.
10. Sugar raises the risk of bad mood and depression
One of the most serious effects of sugar on the body is that it can make depression worse.
According to psychologist Deborah Serani, PsyD, author of ‘Depression in Later Life’, high levels of sugar lead to sharp rises and sharp declines in glucose levels. This results in increased irritability, agitation, irregular sleeping, mood swings, and increased inflammation.
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Two ways to better sugar habits
Now that you know why sugar is bad for you, what can you do to manage the negative impact of this sweet stuff?
Here are actually two great ways to get better at dealing with sugar and looking after your health:
- Next time you are grabbing something off the supermarket shelf, have a peek at the ingredients label, to see just how much sugar there is in the thing – building awareness is one of the best ways to reduce your sugar intake. Forewarned, after all, is forearmed.
- Replace refined sugar with healthier alternatives, like honey. This is another great way to reduce the negative impacts of sugar on your health and wellness.
These ten reasons are not the only negative impacts of sugar by the way, but they do give you a fairly good idea of just how bad sugar is for us.
Our body does need a bit of sugar, so the point isn’t to totally go cold turkey and not have any sugar at all. The problem that we have these days is that there’s sugar in everything – so we end up having far more than we should or need.
This is why it is more important than ever to watch what you put in your body as good nutrition is vital for good health.
So watch your sugar intake.
What do you think about the current sugar levels in food?
Do you have any tips on dealing with our current sugar problem?
Share your tips and ideas on what works for you and what doesn’t when it comes to cutting your sugar intake.
Let us know in the comments.
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