Sugar and Your Body: How Added Sugar Harms You| January 27, 2022
Who doesn't love eating donuts and chocolate bars on a cozy winter night? Well, I guess everyone does. Sugar is a requirement of the human body, but it is harmful to our body if taken in excessive amounts. As the festive season is in full swing, many of us cannot evaluate the calories intake in our diet. We consume much more sugar than our daily routine with the ongoing dinner parties, family gatherings, and movie nights.
Natural sugar intake from fruits, juices, milk, and other food products is not harmful to your body, but still, the calories must be calculated. The excess of everything is terrible, so is the excessive sugar intake very harmful to your body. Overeating sugar brings adverse side effects on your health, including weight gain, diabetes, an increased risk of cardiovascular diseases, blood pressure, cavities, and other health issues.
Where Does Your Added Sugar Come From?
Carbohydrates are a natural energy source required to carry the bodily functions and physical activities. However, not all carbohydrates are equally nutritious. Their classification depends upon the chemical structure of the food and how fast the body digests the food. Simple carbohydrates come from natural sources of food. Eating carbohydrates, vitamins, and other nutrients in the most natural form is healthiest, such as fruits and juices. Refined sugars are often called empty calories, leading to weight gain. These refined sugars lack vitamins, minerals, fibers, and other essential nutrients.
Processed sugar, also known as added sugar, is considered a poison to your bodies. It is generally found in an excessive amount in soft drinks, bakery items, desserts, cereals, honey, yeast bread, canned foods, and many other daily routine products in the kitchen. According to a study, it is fructose that is harmful. Fructose is a type of carbohydrate, a component of the two most popular sugars. One is table sugar, and the other is high-fructose corn syrup found in soft drinks and other processed food items. Fructose doesn't metabolize efficiently as compared to other sugars and causes fatty liver diseases1.
Regular sugar intake creates a "vicious cycle" that drives the fat storage and makes the brain think about starvation. Moreover, excessive use of fructose also causes liver fat as your liver has no choice to turn that energy. Further, liver fat is the root cause of other downstream metabolic diseases.
How Much Sugar Is Too Much?
In the US, added sugar accounts for approximately 17% of the total calorie intake of adults. According to Dietary Guidelines for Americans, the suggested added sugar is limited to 10% per day2. For instance, taking 200 calories of 2000 calories diet is about 12 teaspoons of sugar. Choosing a diet pattern low in added sugar and enriched with natural sources of sugar have vital benefits on overall health.
Free sugars or added sugars in the food, drinks, unsweetened fruits, vegetable smoothies, and purees should not be more than 5% of the calories you get from the food and beverages daily. The increased sugar intake affects every organ of the body and deprives overall health while triggering emotional imbalance, depression, and starvation.
Here are some severe side effects of sugar consumption in an excessive amount that harm your body:
Sugar and Obesity
Sugar intake is directly proportional to weight gain, which, if left unnoticed, leads to obesity3. The relationship between high sugar intake and being overweight remains under discussion. But this is general agreement that energy stored in the body above the needs is stored fat. This is not a new thing, but the more sugar you eat, the more you'll weigh.
Research reveals that people fond of fizzy drinks and excessively use sugar-sweetened beverages tend to weigh more and risk more for type 2 diabetes. In addition, the excessive use of sugar inflames the fat cells causing them to release the chemicals that increase weight.
Sugar and Diabetes
Nowadays, every other one person out of ten complaints about diabetes. Excessive intake of sugar is one of the highest risk factors for diabetes. Sugary drinks, in particular, boost type 2 diabetes. It occurs when sugar remains in your blood, the body produces less hormonal insulin that converts food into energy. As there is a drop in insulin production, the body can't convert excessive sugar into energy, resulting in diabetes type 2.
According to research by CDC, over the past 30 years, the worldwide prevalence of diabetes has been doubled4. One of the reasons is excessive sugar consumption. Obesity, also caused by consuming too much sugar than the body requires, is another considered risk factor of diabetes. Insulin resistance occurs due to prolonged sugar consumption, which causes the blood sugar level to increase your risk of diabetes.
To control this challenging situation, it is necessary to keep an eye on the daily intake of sugar and increase physical activity to utilize extra sugar and fat in the body.
Sugar and Hypertension
Though salt is considered to cause high blood pressure, sugar also plays a part. The increased consumption of sugar inhibits the production of nitric acid in the blood vessels, which results in vasoconstriction. This leads to narrowing the blood vessels, resulting in high blood pressure. Moreover, a higher level of glucose in the blood damages the lining of blood vessels. Further, it makes it easier for the lipids to stock to the walls of blood vessels, resulting in the hardening of the blood vessels. When blood vessels get hardened, the blood pressure increases significantly.
If you've been diagnosed with hypertension, sugar from your diet can be a great contributor. Sugar-sweetened drinks and juices have a significant association with blood pressure and hypertension5. To combat high blood pressure, limit your sugar intake and increase water consumption.
Sugar and Cavities
It is the fact that sugar isn't suitable for your body, but it also rots the teeth and causes cavities. Common offenders are sugary drinks, candies, chocolates, artificial flavors, sweetened vegetable smoothies, and juices. In our mouth, there are a variety of bacteria that reside in the gums and teeth. Some are good, and others are harmful bacteria. When you are taking sugar, you are feeding harmful bacteria. The sugar from the food feeds these bacteria present in the mouth and leave behind an acid that wears away your teeth' enamel and produce cavities.
To prevent cavities, brush your teeth after the meal and use floss. Moreover, rinse your mouth with water after drinking or eating something sweet to neutralize the acid and prevent cavities formation.
Sugar and Acne
10% of the world's population faces acne by many common factors. A diet enriched with carbs is also a great contributor and one of the highest risk factors in developing acne. Moreover, studies reveal that high glycemic index diets are indirectly linked with the more significant risks of acne.
Processed foods such as drinks, sweets, and bakery items with high glycemic index raise blood sugar rapidly, increasing blood sugar spikes, androgen secretion, inflammation, and oil production in the skin.
Sugar and Aging
Aging is a part of getting old. It happens with time. Wrinkles are a natural sign of aging regardless of your health. But some factors also trigger aging in some individuals. For example, too much sugar intake hinders collagen repair, which results in reduced elasticity of facial muscles. Moreover, it initiates premature wrinkles and leads to skin aging early.
Some compounds are formed as a reaction of sugar and proteins in the body, called advanced glycation end products (AGEs). These end products play a vital role in aging due to the body's constant ingestion of artificial. To prevent aging, indulge your sweet tooth with natural sources of sugar such as milk, fruits, and juices.
Sugar and Cancer
The harmful effects of sugar intake on your body are more than you think, and it affects specific organs of the body, disturbs the body system, and causes dangerous diseases. Cancer is one of them that can occur due to excessive amounts of sugar.
Obesity, insulin resistance, aging, and inflammation in the body are the driving forces that significantly increase the chances of certain types of cancer. All these factors are associated with sugar intake. According to a study, sugar consumption is related to the risk of esophageal, pleural or intestinal cancer6.
Sugar and Liver Fat
With an additional mug of tea or coffee, you add a burden on the machinery of your body. Your liver has an innate capacity to metabolize the sugar in the body to an extent and then use it for providing energy. The leftover sugar is converted into liver fat, increasing the risk of developing other diseases like obesity, diabetes type 2, and other heart diseases.
A moderate and balanced diet is the key to regulating the functioning of all body organs. Besides, it reduces the risks of developing other serious health problems such as hypertension, aging, and insulin resistance.
Sugar and Fatigue
Natural sugars are a great way of providing energy to the body, but if you feel fatigued, it could be due to the excessive intake of artificial sugar in your diet. Undoubtedly, sugar is a rapid energy source that causes starvation more quickly. Natural sugar retains for longer in the body and offers energy to the cells. At the same time, artificial sugar is easily absorbed and digested, leaving you with low energy levels and extreme exhaustion.
Sugar and Other Health Issues
Sugar has bittersweet relation with health. However, problems occur when you consume too much-added sugar, and your body hardly processes this. Besides the effects of sugar on the heart, skin, teeth, liver, and heart, it also causes other potential harms such as:
Unfortunately, the harmful effects of excessive sugar intake extend to joint pain. Lots of sweets in the diet worsen joint inflammation, leading to joint pain. Moreover, the studies show that sugar consumption is also liked to the risks of developing rheumatoid arthritis7.
Poor Sleep Patterns
Excessive sugar in tea, coffee, beverages, and energy drinks can mess with the blood glucose levels that cause energy spikes. Likewise, in the evening, a bowl of ice cream or cookies is enough to pump you with a higher dose of sugar that can easily disturb your sleep cycle. Cut down the excessive sugar intake from your diet to get peaceful and deep sleep after a hectic day.
Sometimes, a dessert can solve the problem by satisfying your sweet tooth cravings when you feel down. Often, a sweet candy or dessert is enough to uplift a lousy mood. Symptoms of low glycemic regulation are closely linked with the mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, and irritability. Likewise, too much sugar intake can fuel depression by producing inflammation and swelling in the brain.
A moderate quantity of sugar is necessary to keep the mood swings in control. Considering dietary and lifestyle implications, reduced sweet beverages and refined carbohydrates can rule out these complications.
Certain types of empty or added sugars are the leading cause of bloating and gas in people with digestive problems like IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) or SIBO (Small intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth. A balanced diet with the required sugar is adequate for such patients.
The Bottom Line
Consuming too much sugar regularly has no positive impact on health. It leads to a worsened state of health and triggers other severe conditions such as heart diseases, cancers, and hypertension. People can quickly reduce their sugar intake by prioritizing unprocessed foods. If you are concerned about your health, it is necessary to cut off the excessive sugar intake from your diet. Start eating healthy and make a habit of exercising for 30 minutes a day—only a healthy lifestyle is now the life savior.
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