Sugar and Your Health
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Anything in excess will affect your health. Finding that balance is key to everything. Personally, I liked to have sugar in my coffee but I have switched to honey which by all the evidence I have read is a healthier choice.
Excess sugar does have negative effects on your health, like diabetes, heart disease, obesity, and bad oral health. It is easy to get addicted to sugar and have those sugar cravings.
How Sugar Affects Us
Sugar cravings seem to be on the increase and this is not a good thing. There are claims that we consume our own body weight in sugar in a year. That is scary.
There is no nutritional value to sugar. Even though sugar may come in different forms such as fructose, glucose, and corn syrup, they contain no protein, vitamins, nutrients, or healthy fats.
We all know sugar is bad for our teeth and is a leading cause of cavities. Sugar also contributes to obesity which is a serious health concern. Your liver does not deal with sugar too well, in fact, it stresses the liver which leads to non-alcoholic liver disease and may cause insulin resistance that can lead to type 2 diabetes.
Sugar has been linked to cancerous growth and does have negative effects on our cholesterol levels. It leads to inflammation and raises our risk of heart disease. It also causes arthritis sufferers a lot more pain as it does cause inflammation. In many cases sugar makes us feel hungry which in turn leads to eating more. When was the last time you had some cherry pie and just had a problem putting it away, the same with ice cream?
This sweetening substance is incredibly addictive. It also has a similar composition to cocaine. Sugar habits are hard to break because they release huge doses of dopamine the feel-good drug.
It’s worth noting that having an addiction to sugar is more natural than you might think. After all, sweet is the first taste that human beings prefer from birth, and when you consume carbohydrates, you get a healthy dose of “serotonin” in your brain – the pleasure chemical responsible for making you feel great. On top of that, the comforting taste of sugar also helps to release endorphins throughout your body that leave you feeling relaxed and calm, even offering something of a natural “high”. In other words, if it wasn’t enough that sugar tastes great – it also creates all the chemical reactions that you need to create an addiction.
According to the American Heart Association, the average American eats about 22 teaspoons of added sugar every day. The recommended maximum amount is only 6 teaspoons for women and 9 for men. What’s more, sugar exists in a range of forms besides the white powdered stuff you can pick up at your grocery store. There are negative effects associated with sugar in all its shapes and sizes – from fructose to corn syrup, and we’re consuming more of this dangerous substance than ever before.
While some people might suggest that small amounts of sugar in moderation aren’t that dangerous – it’s our desire to over-consume and the addictive nature of the substance that threatens our health. The human body simply can’t tolerate the number of refined carbohydrates we poison it with each year – and our vital organs are becoming increasingly more damaged.
Dangers of Too Much Sugar
Sugar is Bad for Your Teeth
We’ve already established that added sugars like fructose, corn syrup, and sucrose contain no essential nutrients, and instead, pack your food with extra calories – which is terrible for anyone trying to lose weight. Sugar has no proteins, minerals, or vitamins to speak of – which means that you’re eating it for the sheer sake of the “pleasure” response it gives your brain.
Of course, another big issue with sugar is that it is terrible for your teeth. The reason for this isn’t that the sugar itself actually rots your teeth – but that it gives easy-to-digest energy to the bad bacteria that naturally live in your mouth throughout the day. In other words, you’re turbo-charging the things that eat away at the enamel that protects your teeth from damage.
Sugar is a Leading Cause of Obesity
When we consume sugar, the way that our brains and hormones respond can be a recipe for disaster in terms of fat gain. Not only does eating sugar lead to decreased levels of satiety, but people often become addicted to the pleasure response that comes from eating sugar. In other words, the more you consume these empty calories, the more you want to keep eating them.
Various pieces of research have shown that the people who eat the largest amounts of sugar are often the most likely to become obese or overweight – regardless of their age group. However, studies indicate that the link between sugar and obesity is particularly strong in children – where a daily serving of sugar-sweetened beverages like soda could be linked to a 60% increase in obesity risk.
When you eat sugar – particularly the forms of sugar that are high in fructose – this substance is broken down in the liver. If your levels of glycogen within the liver are low – for instance, because you’ve been exercising or working out, then the fructose will replace the glycogen you’re missing. The problem is that most people don’t eat a lot of sugar after a workout, which means their livers are already full of glycogen.
The liver can only metabolize so much fructose at any given time, and most of the time, it works by turning the sugars you eat into fats. While some of this fat can be shipped out of your body, part of it will almost always stay within the liver. This means that over time you end up being more at risk of suffering from problems like non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.
While problems such as this are unlikely to happen with an over-indulgence in fruit, and for people who live an active, healthy lifestyle, inactive individuals eating a Western, high-calorie diet are particularly at risk.
Sugar Causes Insulin Resistance
One of the most important hormones in your body, insulin is responsible for managing the way that glucose enters the bloodstream – so that you can burn that source instead of fat for energy. Having too much glucose in your system is highly toxic, and can lead to serious conditions including blindness, diabetes, and metabolic syndrome.
Obviously, the more sugar you place into your body to be converted into glucose, the more problems your body has when it comes to converting that substance into energy – which leaves excess sugar floating in your blood. This eventually means that insulin stops working as it should because cells become resistant to it. Insulin resistance then leads to many potential diseases, including cardiovascular disease, obesity, metabolic syndrome, and diabetes.
As your cells become more resistant to the effects of insulin, the cells in your pancreas will attempt to manage the problem by creating even more insulin. This is often essential because hugely elevated levels of blood sugar can lead to serious harm.
Over time, as insulin resistance continues to worsen, the pancreas will not be able to keep up with the demand required to keep blood sugar levels minimal. At this point, blood sugar levels will begin to skyrocket – leading to a diagnosis of type 2 diabetes. Many studies have found that people who drink sugary beverages and consume higher amounts of sugar have a much larger risk of suffering from type 2 diabetes – up to 83% higher in fact.
Sugar Has Been Linked to Cancer
One of the most frightening words in the medical dictionary, cancer is a leading cause of death throughout the world. Something that occurs with all forms of cancer, is the uncontrolled multiplication and growth of cells.
Insulin is one of the key hormones in regulating cell growth, and because of this, many scientists believe that consistently elevated levels of insulin may contribute to cancer. The metabolic problems that are associated with the consumption of sugar are a known problem in driving inflammation – which is yet another contributor to cancer.
Over the years, numerous studies have indicated that people who consume large amounts of sugar are generally at a much higher risk level for getting cancer.
Sugar Promotes Overeating
Many people consider all calories to be evil – particularly when they’re on a diet. However, this isn’t true. All food contains calories, and we need calories to survive. However, it’s worth noting that not all calories are created equal. Different foods can lead to different effects on our brains and the hormones that control the way our body works.
In a study conducted on the effects of eating sugar, people drank a glucose-sweetened or fructose-sweetened drink. After they consumed this beverage, the drinkers of fructose found that they had much less activity in the satiety parts of their brain – and often felt hungrier.
Sugar Raises Cholesterol
Although many people prefer to blame things like saturated fat for the increased risk of heart disease – the number one killer in the world – the truth is that sugar might be the culprit.
In fact, studies show that large amounts of fructose – not fat, are responsible for raising bad cholesterol (LDL), oxidized LDL, and triglycerides. At the same time, fructose increases abdominal obesity risks, insulin levels, and blood glucose. The result of various studies into the connection between sugar and cholesterol is that regular consumption of sugar can significantly raise your chances of suffering from heart disease.
Sugar Contributes to Leptin Resistance
Known as the “obesity” hormone, scientists first considered leptin in treatments for weight loss when it was discovered in 1994. However, leptin is also something worth considering in relation to the problem of sugar consumption.
Leptin is a protein that is made within the fat cells. It circulates throughout the brain and the bloodstream – informing your brain that you have enough energy to function as normal. In simple terms, leptin is like the messenger that checks on your fat cells and uses the information it gathers to inform your brain that you’re full, satisfied, and ready for action.
If you suffer from leptin resistance, then your body no longer tells your brain that you’re at the right energy threshold. This means that your body starts to believe that you’re in a state of starvation – pushing you to eat more and more.
Sugar Is Addictive
Finally, perhaps one of the biggest dangers of sugar is that it’s so addictive. Because of the massive dopamine release that sugar causes, many of us respond to it in the exact same way as we would to many different types of drugs.
If you have a susceptibility to addiction – known to some as an “addictive personality” you might find that you’re more likely to become addicted to sugar and junk foods than other people. The reason for this is that eating these foods gives you a much higher dopamine release than any other food you would find in nature.
Consuming sugar effectively creates a cascade of hormones that starts a loop for positive feedback in the body which encourages you to eat, drink, and consume more sugar. Centuries ago when food was scarce and we needed to eat more food in the summer to survive the winter – this response was a survival instinct – now, it’s nothing more than a dangerous addiction.
Alternatives To Sugar
Unfortunately, there are not too many that are not controversial. Artificial sweeteners like aspartame, sucralose, ace-K, and saccharin have been debated for years in regard to their potentially damaging effects. While all of these sweeteners are technically “safe” and sugar-free, according to the Food and Drug Administration, they are coming under increased scrutiny.
I have written an article on artificial sweeteners and I consider them unsafe. Through our research, the best substitute we have found is pure honey
Raw honey is a true superfood and one of the best natural sweeteners. It’s packed with enzymes, antioxidants, iron, zinc, potassium, calcium, phosphorous, vitamin B6, riboflavin, and niacin.
Together, these essential nutrients help neutralize free radicals while promoting the growth of healthy bacteria in the digestive tract.
Native to North America, maple syrup comes in both grades A and B. While time-consuming, maple syrup processing requires only four steps: drilling the hole in the tree, hanging a bucket to catch the sap, boiling to evaporate out the water, and then filtering any sediment.
Maple syrup is one of the best natural sugar substitutes because it’s an outstanding source of manganese and contains calcium, potassium, and zinc. Rich with antioxidants, this all-natural sweetener helps neutralize free radicals and reduce oxidative damage.
Video on How Sugar Affects Your Health
Yes, there are other alternatives to sugar and sugar substitutes. In no way do we encourage the use of artificial sweeteners.
If you feel you do have a sugar addiction we plan on writing an article on, “Sugar Detox”. Please visit us in the future if you would like to get away from sugar.
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