We all enjoy the heavenly taste of sweet sugar is it not? You will most likely be lying if you answer no. While there is nothing wrong in occasionally enjoying the sweet taste of deserts, ice creams, candies, and many many more sweets that surrounds us. It becomes a major reason for concern when you consume too much of it.
Studies suggest sugar can be as addictive as cocaine. Though it is a good move to kick out sugar-filled cakes, candies, chocolates, and sugary deserts from your regular meal and snacks, there are lots of other places where sugar hides from plain sight. This includes everything from fresh fruit juices to all natural honey.
A 2016 study found that artificial sweeteners, flavors, colors, and other additives in ultra-processed foods makes up for 60 percent of average American’s calorie intake.
Health experts and scientists claim if you live in the US, it is most likely the 90 percent of your sugar intake come from ultra-processed foods. Next time you go out to buy your foods, make sure to check its labels and contents.
So, what is the problem with consuming too much sugar? Is sugar not a good source of energy? How exactly does sugar affect your body? What is the difference between processed and unprocessed sugar? Let’s find out.
What is sugar?
Sugar is the simplest form of carbohydrate, which your body can readily convert into glucose. Your body converts glucose into energy which will be used up to perform various bodily needs, both voluntary and involuntary.
There are two forms to sugar. Natural sugar is found in your fruits, vegetables, and grains. Processed sugar is what you find in your bakery items and other packaged foods.
Both these forms of sugars are treated differently by your body. Simple processed sugar, the white crystalline sugar that we use in our beverages is quickly processed by your body and it rapidly moves into your bloodstream, resulting in an immediate spike in your insulin levels. Your body needs insulin to transfer all that glucose in your blood to the body cells.
Health experts claim, too much insulin in your bloodstream is not good for your internal organs and over time this can lead to insulin resistance and diabetes.
Unprocessed or natural sugar, on the other hand, doesn’t cause an immediate spike in blood glucose. Natural sugars are made up of long chains of glucose which takes a long time for your body to process. Also, it doesn’t induce excessive insulin production in short time duration. Result? More sustained energy supply over a course of time with no abnormal insulin spike.
Another advantage of consuming sugar through a natural source is the dose. Your apples do not contain the crazy amount of added sugar that you find in your cookies or any processed foods. Your body is not designed or built to process the un-natural amount of sugar from your foods.
How is Sugar Harmful For Your Body?
It is natural for your body to go inflammation now and then and its natural inflammatory response takes care of it most of the times. Your body can very effectively repair itself. However, this is not the case with chronic inflammation, which can damage your DNA and paves way for numerous diseases including cancer.
Research studies suggest that a high-sugar diet leads to chronic inflammation. Increase in glucose levels in your bloodstream increases the free radicals that potentially leads to inflammation.
There are other studies that suggest sugar attacks and inhibits the growth of good bacterias in your gut and takes a toll on your digestive health. Natural foods that are high in fiber have a positive impact on the good bacterias in the gut and improves your digestive health. However, most people who consume high levels of sugar fail to consume enough fiber.
So, how to know if you are eating too much sugar?
1 Acne or pimple breakout around your mouth
While there are no conclusive studies that directly connect acne break out with your sugar diet. Some preliminary studies suggest that consuming too much sugar foods on a regular basis could spike the production of certain hormones, especially androgens—that are linked to acne breakouts around your mouth and jawline.
If you have acne breakouts in these areas and wondering what could be wrong, then the real culprit is most likely the sugar in your diet.
2 You feel dull
This might sound strange because we think we feel good after having a cup of ice cream or munching on our favorite chocolate bar. While this is true to some extent because sugar can instantly increase the feel-good hormone serotonin. However, once the initial surge starts to subside it leaves you with longer periods of feeling worse.
3 Night sleep is hard to come by
A muffin or a cupcake before your bedtime might sound like a great idea. But the immediate spike in blood sugar and energy levels in your body will make it harder for you to doze off. However, the increase in sugar levels will also trigger the feel-good hormone serotonin which might come to your rescue after a while making you feel relaxed and calm, and sleepy. The sleep you get after a sugary snack just before hitting your bed won’t be as satisfying and refreshing. You will wake up the next morning feeling tired again. This is because your body works harder at night to get rid of all that sugar.
4 Early onset of wrinkles
Do you know that too much sugar intake will speed up your aging process? Yes, sugar reacts with proteins in your bloodstream and damages the collagen and elastin. Your skin needs collagen and elastin to give it that supple and bouncy feel. Additionally, their presence will inhibit the formation of wrinkles. Though eventually the collagen and elastin loses its strength as you age, this process gets boosted if you consume more sugar, making your skin wrinkle at a faster pace.
5 Cavities on your teeth
This one should come as a no surprise as most of us are aware of the fact that sugar is a major contributing factor for tooth decay. When you eat sugary snacks like chocolates, cakes, candies, etc… the sugar from the food gets coated over your teeth and this attracts and feeds plaque causing bacterias in your mouth. These bacterias will release acids that will damage your tooth enamel, leading to cavities.
6 Craving for more sugar
Have no doubt in your mind that sugar is addictive. More the sugar you eat, the more you will be drawn towards it. How many times have you felt like just a couple of sips of a sugary beverage would suffice your thirst, but you ended up drinking the whole glass or bottle feeling the urge to go for more?
Having a sugary beverage along with your meal or a sugary dessert after your meal can easily become your habit. Especially when considering the fact how heavenly the sugar tastes. Problem is habits are hard to streamline and it takes a lot of effort to break it.
7 Pain in the joints
Some research study linked consumption of sugary foods and drinks with the onset of rheumatoid arthritis in women. The possible reason for it is believed to be chronic inflammation triggered by constant sugar intake. Though it is not entirely right to say that sugar directly causes arthritis, we can conclude that it could be one of many contributing factors to the condition.
8 Increase in appetite
Unlike protein or fiber in your diet, sugar doesn’t make you feel full easily. Processed sugar, in particular, will cause your blood glucose level to spike and drop constantly making you want to eat more always to maintain the balance.
If you have a constant appetite for foods, try to ignore sugary foods and substitute it with the ones that contain more protein and fibers.
9 Natural Sweet doesn’t taste sweet anymore
When you get into the habit of eating foods that contain high levels of processed sugar or has added sugar, your baseline for what you consider as sweet is set higher. This means what your taste buds interpret as sweet while you eat a mango, or a banana won’t suffice your expectations, inhibiting you from enjoying the natural sweetness.
10 Increase in blood pressure
If you are thinking only sodium in your salt can spike your blood pressure, you are wrong. A recent study published in the journal Open Heart linked high sucrose diet with an increase in both systolic and diastolic blood pressure. Another study suggests that every time you consume a sugary beverage, you are increasing your chances for hypertension by nearly 8 percent.