Excess sugar consumption has been associated with many Western diseases. Added sugar is so harmful that it’s probably the single worst ingredient in the modern diet. Refined sugar was nearly nonexistent in the human meal plan until recent times. Today, the over-consumption of sugar is the number one cause of the American obesity epidemic. While the USDA recommends only 8 teaspoons (32 grams) of added sugar per day, the average American eats approximately 53 teaspoons (212 grams).
Unfortunately, the majority of processed foods are jam-packed with it. What’s disturbing is that it lurks in even the most unsuspecting places – breads, sauces, spices, salad dressings, even frozen fruit. With 56 names for refined sugar ingredients (including High Fructose Corn Syrup, Corn Syrup or Corn Syrup Solids, Sucrose and Fructose) manufacturers cleverly disguise this toxic substance in the ingredients lists to make our food taste good.
Sugar contributes to many negative health effects – and not just hyperactivity and tooth decay, but sickness, disease, and cancer. Something as simple as cutting sugar from your diet can prevent these adverse effects, offering not only a smaller waistline but a longer, better condition of life.
SUGAR IS DETRIMENTAL TO THE LIVER
A major reason added sugar, especially High Fructose Corn Syrup, is bad for you is that it supplies a large amount of fructose. Refined sugar is half glucose and half fructose. The liver is the only organ that can metabolize fructose. When too much fructose enters the liver, it gets turned into fat that can build up over time and ultimately lead to disease. This process is probably one of the leading causes of the epidemics of many chronic, Western diseases. When we eat a lot of fructose, many things in the body start to go wrong. Eating a lot of added sugar can cause deposition of fat in the liver and lead to Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease.
SUGAR CAUSES METABOLIC SYNDROMES AND WEIGHT GAIN
Insulin drives glucose into cells from the bloodstream. Elevated blood glucose is toxic, so when excessive amounts of glucose cannot be used properly the pancreas begins to secrete more and more insulin in order to remove it from the bloodstream, leading the body to become insulin resistant. When the body becomes resistant to insulin, the pancreas stops doing its job properly, which is a contributing factor to type II diabetes, which now afflicts about 300 million people worldwide. Insulin also has another important function. It signals the body to store fat, which leads to obesity. Sugar causes weight gain via various mechanisms, including elevated insulin and leptin resistance.
SUGAR IS ADDICTIVE
Like drugs, sugar stimulates the release of dopamine, a “feel-good” chemical in the brain. As we consume sugar, our bodies create more dopamine receptors that lead us to crave more sugar, resulting in a vicious cycle of sugar consumption. Our brain is hardwired to seek out activities that release dopamine. Activities that release an enormous amount of it are especially desirable. In certain individuals with a certain predisposition to addiction, this causes reward-seeking behavior typical of addiction to abusive drugs. Studies in rats demonstrate that they can, in fact, become physically addicted to sugar. Sugar, due to its powerful effects on the reward system in the brain, can lead to classic signs of addiction.
SUGAR DEPLETES ESSENTIAL MINERALS
Most products with added sugars in them contain very little nutrients and can, therefore, be classified as empty calories. Besides being empty calories with no value in nutrition, sugar actually depletes your body of essential minerals. Sugar causes essential minerals like sodium, potassium, magnesium, and calcium to be leached from the body weakening teeth and bones, causing tooth decay and diseases like osteoporosis.
SUGAR LOWERS YOUR IMMUNE SYSTEM
By lowering the efficiency of white blood cells for hours at a time after consumption, sugar compromises the immune system and hinders our ability to fight disease and infection.
SUGAR CAUSES INSULIN RESISTANCE, DIABETES, AND WEIGHT GAIN
Insulin drives glucose into cells from the bloodstream. Elevated blood glucose is toxic, so when excessive amounts of glucose cannot be used properly the pancreas begins to secrete more and more insulin in order to remove it from the bloodstream, leading the body to become insulin resistant. When the body becomes resistant to insulin, the pancreas stops doing its job properly, which is a contributing factor of type II diabetes, which now afflicts about 300 million people worldwide. Insulin also has another important function. It signals the body to store fat, which leads to obesity. Sugar causes weight gain via various mechanisms, including elevated insulin and leptin resistance
SUGAR CAUSES PREMATURE AGING
Sugar can attach to proteins in the bloodstream, resulting in AGEs (Advanced Glycation End Products) that damage collagen and elastin production, which are responsible for maintaining skin’s elasticity.
SUGAR LEADS TO DEPRESSION, ANXIETY, CHRONIC FATIGUE, AND MOOD SWINGS
Consuming sugar leads to a spike in both blood sugar and feel-good serotonin levels in the brain. When the sugar withdraws from our system, we experience a “crash” creating a cycle of craving and binge-ing in both our bodies and our minds. This is not fun for anyone.
SUGAR INCREASES HYPERACTIVITY IN CHILDREN
Refined sugars from processed snacks like sweets and crackers enter the bloodstream quickly, producing rapid fluctuations in blood glucose levels that trigger adrenaline and make children more active. Consider more kid friendly gluten free snacks to help avoid this.
SUGAR CAN AFFECT YOUR CHOLESTEROL
Most of the fat generated in the liver gets shipped out as Very Low-Density Lipoprotein (VLDL) particles. High sugar consumption lowers levels of the “good” HDL cholesterol that helps remove VLDL or “bad” cholesterol from the artery walls and has been shown to increase levels of the small, dense LDL and oxidized LDL, which are very bad. This type of fat found in the blood poses an increased risk for heart disease and metabolic syndrome- which is a stepping stone towards obesity, heart disease, diabetes and a shorter lifetime with poor health.
Sugar is empty calories. Consuming a large part of calories as fructose can lead to serious adverse effects on blood markers in as little as 10 weeks. People who eat them instead of other more nutritious foods will probably become deficient in many important nutrients. No doubt about that cutting out refined sugar may be difficult at first, but within a matter of time you’ll begin to experience the positive effects it will have on your mind, body, and overall well-being.