Sugar is our go-to buddy, whether it’s a friend’s night out or a person’s breakup, everyone turns to food items stuffed with sugar like ice creams, bakery products, etc. Sugar no matter how tempting it may look, in excess amounts may impact one’s health negatively.
As per a study most Americans consume around 57 pounds of sugar each year. Sugar can be found in every food item, however, there may be differences in the amount of sugar present in them. For instance, food items that are high in sugar are called packaged foods, which we will discuss in the later section of the post.
In this article, we will help you in understanding your sugar intake and the necessary changes you need to make to lead a healthy and happy life. Happy Reading!
What is Sugar? What is too much Sugar?
Sugar is present in almost everything we consume right from fruits and vegetables to grains and dairy products; apart from this, there are food items brimming with added sugar in order to increase their shelf value and enhance their sweetness. This added sugar is a major factor in increasing the risk of various heart-related diseases and health issues. But, before we further elaborate on this, let us first understand what sugar is.
Sugar is a soluble carbohydrate that is naturally present in various food products. It is found in two forms i.e. simple sugars also called monosaccharides which are present in the form of fructose, glucose, and galactose, and the other, compound sugars or disaccharides which are made by mixing two molecules of simple sugars and the most common example of this is white sugar that is the refined form of sucrose and is made by mixing glucose and fructose together.
Sucrose is found in sugar beet or sugarcane which is commercially extracted to make refined sugar. It is used as a sweetener in processed foods like cookies, cakes, beverages, etc. The added sugar slowly and steadily pushes a person towards the risk of contracting one or the other diseases.
As per the American Heart Association, females and children are advised to consume about 100 calories i.e. 6 teaspoons of added sugar daily whereas males can consume up to 9 teaspoons i.e. 150 calories a day. Unfortunately, an average American is consuming about 17 teaspoons of added sugar daily which has made them vulnerable to various cardiovascular diseases.
Do you know – Americans’ diet is highly made up of soft drinks, juices, cereals, cookies, yogurt, and most processed food items like canned meat, fish, etc?
According to Dr. Frank Hu, professor of nutrition at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health – “Excess sugar’s impact on obesity and diabetes is well documented, but one area that may surprise many men is how their taste for sugar can have a serious impact on their heart health.”
Hence, it is important to keep a check on one’s sugar intake. Now, let us take a look at the various problems associated with the high consumption of sugar.
10 ways in which eating too much sugar affects us
If experts are to be believed, sugar is the major factor in the increasing rate of obesity in people these days. The working professionals and the young generation are majorly affected as they are the prominent consumers of packaged food. People are mostly relying on processed food as it is hassle-free and easily available.
When you are hungry you don’t look at the ingredients of the food instead look for options that can give you instant energy, however, sugar instead of proving nutrition leaves you with a lot of calories. This increases the overall consumption of calories in a person. These calories are called empty calories for the sole reason that they can’t provide the required nutrition to the body.
Check out our article to learn more about packaged food and the top 10 reasons to avoid its consumption.
Though the body needs a certain amount of calories every day, the high consumption can overload your body’s system and turn the calorie into fat. So, next time when you binge on ready-to-eat food, don’t forget to check its sugar content.
The excessive consumption of sugar impacts the heart and increases the risk of cardiovascular diseases. Experts are still trying to understand, how sugar affects the heart but it puts severe pressure on the liver same as alcohol. The liver converts the dietary carbohydrates to fat and a high amount of sugar overloads the liver forcing it to speed up the conversion process.
Heavy consumption of sugar also raises blood pressure and increases chronic inflammation in a person; both of these are the road to heart diseases.
Type 2 diabetes
Let us now discuss one of the common diseases the entire world is dealing with today i.e. Type 2 Diabetes. The continuous consumption of food items and beverages high in sugar can increase the risk of contracting diabetes. Diabetes has brought about a significant change in the mortality rate and has reduced the life expectancy rate as well.
Over the past couple of decades, the consumption of sugar has doubled in the world. The prolonged consumption of sugar can result in resistance to insulin, which is a hormone produced by the pancreas that regulates the blood sugar levels in a person.
Insulin resistance results in raised blood sugar levels which strongly increases the chances of contracting diabetes. Experts believe that people who continuously drink sweetened beverages are more likely to develop diabetes.
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Affects immune function
It is the immune system that fights off the propelling illness in the body but what if we tell you that the sugar you so generously consume can affect the immune system lowering its functioning capabilities? Yes, bacteria and yeast feast on sugar hence, the excess of it helps them in increasing their numbers and causing infections. It affects the immunity of a person causing repetitive illness or recurring patterns of being affected by an infection.
No amount of anti-aging creams can work if you are consuming a high amount of sugar. Sugar accelerates aging by mixing up with the protein which further results in premature aging. Skin losses its elasticity making a person look old. Furthermore, consuming a diet rich in sugar can lead to the production of the AGEs (Advanced Glycation End Products) the compound forms when the sugar mixes up with the protein in the blood. AGEs damage the collagen and elastin in the body, the proteins which ensure a youthful appearance and help the skin stretch.
Hence, it is essential to take sugar in a controlled manner.
We all have been troubled by annoying acne and pimples at least once in our life. But, let us tell you the reason for it. It is sugar-laden foods that are responsible for acne growth in adults. Excess sugar causes a spike in blood sugar and insulin levels which leads to the excess of oil production and inflammation, all of which are associated with the development of acne.
In a study conducted on 24,452 participants, it was found that the heavy consumption of sugary products and fatty products is the reason behind the increasing rate of acne in adults.
As mentioned above, sugar is the food for bacteria and germs which can severely impact various organs of the body, among which is the Teeth. The prolonged use of sugar results in tooth and gum decays. Sugar damages the teeth more critically than any other food product.
Those who have a habit of consuming sugar daily are advised to consult a dentist for timely checkups. Generally, health experts recommend brushing your teeth twice a day along with proper flossing.
While a proper diet can uplift your mood, a diet high in sugar can do the reverse by making you feel anxious and stressed. It is also linked with memory problems and depression. A study conducted on 8,000 men found that those who consumed 67 grams or more of sugar were 23% more likely to be stressed as compared to the ones who consumed 40 grams per day.
When stress becomes more serious, it can turn into depression, in such situations, it is advised to take the help of a psychologist or psychiatrist.
Risk of cancer
There are many studies that have linked sugar intake with different types of cancer. The consumption of high amounts of sugar leads to obesity and insulin resistance, both of which can increase the risk of cancer.
In a study conducted on 22,720 men for a period of 9 years, it was found that the consumption of high levels of sugar-loaded products and beverages resulted in a greater risk of prostate cancer.
Researchers are still trying to understand the relationship between sugar and cancer by conducting various studies on it. As it is rightly said – precaution is better than cure, hence, it is essential to understand one’s sugar use and make necessary changes in the diet.
Sugar products are high in calories but are also deprived of the necessary proteins and fibers. It can provide quick energy which doesn’t last long and is followed by a sharp drop in blood sugar. The constant fluctuation in blood sugar can interfere with one’s energy quotient. Sugar lowers the level of alertness in a person within 60 minutes of consumption and increases fatigue within 30 minutes. The continuous pattern of which drains the energy of a person leaving them exhausted and weak. Therefore, experts advised including foods that are rich in fiber and low in added sugar.
There are a few more ways excess sugar disturbs the normal functioning of the body such as it can turn one into an addict, sugar triggers the release of chemicals like opioids and dopamine, which makes one feel happy and pleasant when continued for a long time can leave a person wanting more. It also interferes with the normal appetite making people feel hungry even when they are full.
It is vital to learn the composition of one’s food intake. This helps in understanding the food items which are stuffed with sugars and also the amount of sugar consumed in a day. This way you can easily cut off the products which are a major contributor in spiking your blood sugar. Try to prefer products that are energy givers and enriched in fibers. The best way to limit the consumption of packaged food is to cook food at home and replace the packaged items with fresh items such as vegetables, meat, fish, etc. It is essential to make healthy food choices to lead a better life.