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11 Reasons To Stop Eating Too Much Sugar
We tend to think that added sugar is mainly found in desserts like cookies and cakes, but it’s also found in many savory foods, such as bread and pasta sauce. And some foods promoted as “natural” or “healthy” are laden with added sugars, compounding the confusion. In fact, manufacturers add sugar to 74% of packaged foods sold in supermarkets. So, even if you skip dessert, you may still be consuming more added sugar than is recommended.
Today, the overconsumption of sugar is the number one cause of the American obesity epidemic. While the USDA recommends only 6.7 teaspoons (28 grams) of added sugar per day, the average American eats approximately 25 teaspoons (105 grams).
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requires food producers to list all ingredients in their foods. But added sugar comes in many forms – which is why it’s so hard to find them on the ingredients label.
Sugar is loaded into the majority of processed foods, where it lurks in even the most unsuspecting places – breads, sauces, salad dressings, even frozen fruit!
With 61 names for refined sugar ingredients, manufacturers hide this toxic substance throughout the ingredients lists and even though they might taste good, they certainly aren’t doing any good for you.
A few common names for sugar are – high fructose corn syrup, corn syrup or corn syrup solids, sucrose, fructose, barley malt, dextrose, maltose and rice syrup. One or more of these names can be found on the ingredients label of the majority of the packaged food products on Supermarket shelves.
Why Is It So Difficult To Stop Eating Sugar?
Generally, sugar addiction starts from intense cravings that continue regularly. These sugar cravings tend to cause you to eat too much sugar, which then causes even more cravings, and hence creates a vicious cycle. The human body craves sugar for various reasons, and generally, each craving is different for each person. Your brain may experience an intense craving because it needs sugar for energy and to function properly. But beyond meeting a need, sugar cravings for adults tend to be habitual, rewarding, or even just physiologic.
The high glycemic index of processed sugars can spike blood sugars in the body fast and drop them quickly as well, leading to a kind of roller coaster effect on blood sugars. As blood sugar levels rise, you’ll experience a quick increase in energy. Sadly, because those levels become regulated quickly, an energy or “sugar” crash is not far behind the spike, especially when dealing with added sugars.
Here are the top 11 reasons you should avoid refined sugar.
1. Sugar is Addictive
The addiction pattern of cocaine and sugar is quite similar. When we eat sugar – opioids and dopamine are released. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that is a key part of the “reward circuit” associated with addictive behavior.
When we eat sugar, it causes a neurotransmitter response that makes us feel good, and we experience a mild “high”. Once this feeling subsides, we end up craving it again. Studies are even showing that, like drugs such as heroin, we build up a tolerance to the sugar and end up needing more and more to produce that same high. Therefore, the calories add up and we end up gaining weight.
From cupcakes to pies to iced coffee drinks, sugar is found in many foods and is almost impossible to avoid.
Emotional or psychological dependence on sugary foods and drinks, also known as a sugar addiction, are a real cause of concern for health officials in America.
Processed foods and refined grains create additional sugar in the body once the body metabolizes the food.
Sugar in moderation is not harmful, however, many overdo it. A recent study suggests Americans eat way too much sugar. To be specific, approximately 75% of Americans eat excess amounts of sugar, many of whom could be classified as having a sugar addiction.
2. Sugar Causes Premature Aging
Excess processed sugar in your diet, even in small amounts can cause dark circles, wrinkles, dehydrate skin and can fast track the aging process.
Table sugar is made of one glucose and fructose molecule, and it’s the fructose in sugar that accelerates the aging reaction of collagen and elastin. Skin is composed of collagen and elastin, which makes our skin supple and soft. Sugar causes cross-linking of collagen, resulting in stiffening and loss of elasticity of our skin. The more sugar we have, the more our skin starts to suffer.
Research has shown that advanced glycation end products (AGEs), a class of compounds resulting from combinations of sugars and proteins, can accelerate the effects of aging. These form whenever blood sugar is high i.e. whenever you consume sugar.
3. Sugar Can Lead to the Development of Cancer
Research shows that eating sugar doesn’t necessarily lead to cancer. It’s what sugar does to your waistline that can lead to cancer.
All cells in our body — including cancer cells — need sugar (glucose) from our bloodstream for fuel. We get that blood sugar from foods containing carbohydrates, including vegetables, fruits, whole grains and low-fat dairy sources. Some glucose is produced within our bodies from protein.
But eating a lot of high-sugar foods may mean more calories than you need, which leads to excess weight and body fat. It is excess body fat that increases the risk of many common cancers. That is why American Institute Of Cancer Research recommends eating a diet rich in nutritious and filling foods, such as whole grains, vegetables, fruit and beans and replacing sugary beverages with low- or no-calorie drinks.
4. Sugar is Empty Calories And Causes Weight Gain
Empty calories refer to foods that are high in calories (that is, they are ‘energy-dense’) but are also ‘nutrient-poor’, meaning they are very low in essential nutrients and have little or no nutritional value.
Many of the packaged foods you’ll find at the grocery store contain empty calories. This means they have little nutritional value. Instead, they give your body mostly solid fats and added sugars, which can lead to weight gain and nutritional deficiencies.
Sugar is a type of carbohydrate which provides energy to the body. However, eating too much sugar over time can lead to weight gain. Sugar doesn’t fill you up or satiate your appetite, and often leaves you hungrier an hour later than before you ate.
As the body usually digests products containing added sugars more quickly, they do not offset hunger for very long. This can lead to eating more regularly throughout the day and a greater calorie intake overall. Also, sugar is void of nutrients and crowds out other nutrient-dense food that your body needs to thrive.
5. Sugar Robs Your Body Of Essential Minerals
Did you know that high sugar intake reduces absorption of crucial vitamins and minerals? It’s true! Interfering with nutrient absorption and causing nutrient depletion could be the root of every deleterious effect sugar has on the body, whether decreased immunity, weakened bones, or diabetes.
Not only do added sugars displace nutritionally superior foods in the diet, but they may also deplete nutrients from other foods that have been consumed, as well as from body stores, in order to enable their proper oxidation and liberate their calories as energy.
Additionally, the consumption of added sugars damages the mitochondria and hence impairs energy generation.
Moreover, overconsuming added sugars may result in a kind of ‘internal starvation’ (via leptin and insulin resistance) leading to further hunger signals in the body.
The negative influence excess sugar intake has on key vitamins and minerals adds to the significant body of evidence that too much sugar is detrimental to overall health.
To prevent disease and stay healthy, it’s imperative to both drastically decrease sugar consumption and ensure you’re receiving an adequate supply of vitamins and minerals.
6. Sugar Causes Insulin Resistance And Diabetes
Insulin is essential for regulating the amount of glucose that circulates in the bloodstream. It induces the cells to absorb glucose.
Insulin resistance occurs when excess glucose in the blood reduces the ability of the cells to absorb and use blood sugar for energy. Glucose, also known as blood sugar, is the body’s main source of fuel.
This increases the risk of developing prediabetes, and eventually, Type II diabetes.
One in three Americans—including half of those age 60 and older— have this silent blood sugar problem called insulin resistance.
While genetics, aging and ethnicity play roles in developing insulin sensitivity, the driving forces behind insulin resistance include excess body weight, too much belly fat, a lack of exercise and most importantly a bad diet.
When you eat a lot of sugar, the following things happen in your body:
- A lot of blood sugar enters the bloodstream.
- The pancreas pumps out more insulin to get blood sugar into cells.
- Over time, cells stop responding to all that insulin—they’ve become insulin resistant.
- The pancreas keeps making more insulin to try to make cells respond.
- Eventually, the pancreas can’t keep up, and blood sugar keeps rising and it leads to Diabetes.
Lots of blood sugar in the bloodstream is very damaging to the body and needs to be moved into cells as soon as possible. There’s lots of insulin, too, telling the liver and muscles to store blood sugar. When they’re full, the liver sends the excess blood sugar to fat cells to be stored as body fat, which causes weight gain.
7. Sugar Contributes To Heart Problems
When you eat excess sugar, the extra insulin in your bloodstream can affect your arteries, part of your body’s circulatory system. It causes their walls to grow faster than normal and get tense, which adds stress to your heart and damage it over time. This can lead to heart disease, heart attacks, and strokes.
High amounts of sugar can overload the liver. Your liver metabolizes sugar the same way as alcohol, and converts dietary carbohydrates to fat. Over time, this can lead to a greater accumulation of fat, which may turn into fatty liver disease, a contributor to diabetes, which raises your risk for heart disease.
Moreover, consuming too much added sugar can raise blood pressure and increase chronic inflammation, both of which are pathological pathways to heart disease.
8. Sugar Leads To Depression, Anxiety And Irritability
Overconsumption of sugar triggers imbalances in certain brain chemicals. These imbalances can lead to depression and may even increase the long-term risk of developing a mental health disorder in some people.
Eating lots of sugar is going to give you sudden peaks and troughs in the amount of glucose in your blood; symptoms that this is going on include fatigue, irritability, dizziness, insomnia, excessive sweating, poor concentration and forgetfulness, excessive thirst, depression and crying spells, digestive disturbances and blurred vision.
Since the brain depends on an even supply of glucose and eating a lot of sugar doesn’t allow that – hence sugar has been implicated in aggressive behavior, anxiety, and depression.
9. Sugar Leads To Chronic Fatigue
Eating sugar can cause fatigue with either high or low blood sugars. When your sugars are high, they remain in the bloodstream instead of being used for energy, which makes you feel fatigued. Low blood sugar (glucose) means you may not have enough fuel for energy, also causing fatigue.
When a person eats, the body breaks down food into simple sugars, or glucose. In people with diabetes, the pancreas does not produce enough insulin, or the body does not use insulin effectively. Cells need insulin to absorb glucose from the blood.
If the cells do not take in enough glucose, it can build up in the blood. The cells need glucose to provide energy.
Fatigue and weakness might result when the cells do not get enough glucose. Diabetes medications, such as insulin or metformin, help more of this sugar to move into the cells and prevent it from building to harmful levels in the blood.
10. Sugar Can Weaken Your Immune System
Sugar’s impact on your health and the immune system is a complex interplay of hormonal, metabolic, and immunologic processes that can severely threaten human health.
Some of that impact is immediate. Refined sugar can reduce how white blood cells perform and increase inflammatory markers. In fact, obese people have fewer white blood cells with a reduced capability to fight infection.
The hormonal effects of sugar and the immune system are complex, but insulin is a major player.
When you eat large amounts of sugar, your blood sugar increases. Insulin helps normalize those blood sugar levels, but over time, your cells become overwhelmed and resistant to the signals of this hormone.
We call this condition insulin resistance, which leads to type 2 diabetes and all of its related complications including impairing the immune system.
11. Sugar Weakens Your Eyesight
Did you know that eating too much sugar can also affect your eyesight? Much like metabolic dysfunction, sugar can leave your eyes prone to certain diseases. How sugar will affect your eyesight depends on what kind of sugar was consumed and how much.
Eating lots of sugary, starchy foods may make eyes more vulnerable to age-related macular degeneration (AMD), America’s top cause of vision loss.
As blood sugar fluctuates, it weakens the blood vessels in the retina, which is the back lining of the eye. As these vessels weaken, it can lead to blood leaking from them into your eye, causing what is known as diabetic retinopathy.
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