Sugar is just about everywhere and even the fruits and veggies we consider extremely contain natural sugar that our body slowly digest to provide our cells a stable energy supply. However, added sugars are a completely different story. Added sugar can be found in processed and packaged food and drinks that we so conveniently consume. The thing is our body does not need this and unfortunately, this makes up a large intake of our daily sugar consumption. It does a “delicious” factor to the food but it’s high time you know the reasons why too much sugar is bad for you.
Natural Sugar vs. Added Sugar
The prime difference between natural sugar and added sugar is that when consumed, one comes with health benefits like fiber and antioxidants while the other provides nothing but calories.
Natural sugar can be found in whole, unprocessed food, like the fructose in bananas and berries. It is low in calories and sodium, high in water content, and contains essential vitamins and minerals. Our body digests natural sugars slowly which prevents sugar spikes.
Added sugar, on the other hand, has more pressing concerns to be tackled. Simply put, added sugar is any sugar added to food. They add taste to food for sure, but aside from that and calories, they don’t have many health benefits linked to them. Since they are not packaged with beneficial nutrients, our body digests them quickly which leads to a rapid increase in blood sugar.
Consistently having high blood sugar can lead to health problems such as obesity, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease.
Reasons why too much sugar is bad
On exhausting days where you no longer have the energy to cook yourself a more controlled and healthy meal, it’s very easy to just order in or heat convenient food. However, packaged and processed food are the prime sources of added sugar and too much consumption of this can lead to serious health issues.
Here are reasons why too much sugar is bad for you.
Excessive intake of added sugar, especially from sugar-sweetened beverages, has been one of the leading causes of the rising rates of obesity.
Sugar-sweetened drinks, such as sodas, juices, and sweet teas, are jampacked with fructose. This type of simple sugar increases hunger and craving for more food. Excessive consumption might also result in resistance to leptin, the hormone that tells our body to stop eating. Due to this, we are prone to eating more which leads to weight gain.
Increased risk of heart disease
Excessive consumption of high-sugar food and drinks is linked to several health concerns, including heart disease and all of its risk factors, such as obesity, inflammation, and high triglyceride, blood sugar, and blood pressure levels.
Remember, one sugary drink a day means that you’ve already gone over the limit for recommended daily sugar intake.
Increased risk of type 2 Diabetes
The rate of diabetes has doubled (more even!) over the last 30 years. And while it’s true that there are several reasons for this, it’s undeniable that a good number is due to excessive sugar consumption.
The strongest risk factor for diabetes is obesity, which is caused by too much sugar intake. Aside from that, prolonged high-sugar consumption can lead to insulin resistance which results in a rise in blood sugar levels and increases the risk for diabetes.
Increased risk for depression
A healthy diet can improve and boost your mood, however, a high-sugar diet and excessive consumption of processed food have been linked to depression.
Researchers claim that fluctuating blood sugar, neurotransmitter dysregulation, and inflammation might be all factors for sugar’s adverse effect on mental health.
Speed skin aging process
As we grow older, our skin does too. That’s perfectly normal, regardless of the status of your health. However, an unhealthy diet can accelerate the skin aging process and you might find yourself with dull and wrinkly skin at a young age.
Advanced glycation end products (AGEs) are compounds made by reactions between sugar and protein in the body. They are believed to play a vital role in skin aging. AGEs damage collagen and elastin, which are important proteins that help the skin’s youthful appearance.
AGEs are produced when a diet is high in carbs and sugar. This results in prematurely aging skin.
Can result in fatty liver
Excessive intake of fructose is heavily associated with an increased risk of fatty liver. Glucose and other types of sugar are taken up by many cells scattered throughout the body, while fructose is almost only broken down by the liver and converted into energy or stored as glycogen.
However, the liver doesn’t offer unlimited storage and excess glycogen is eventually turned into fat and this can overload your liver, leading to non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NALD), a health condition that refers to too much fat buildup in the liver.
Ways to Reduce Sugar Intake
As you’ve read, excessive consumption of added sugar has detrimental effects on health. Keep in mind though that small amounts are perfectly fine but you should still avoid or cut back on added sugar as much as possible.
If you solely focus on eating whole and unprocessed food, you are already eliminating added sugar from your diet. Aside from that, here are a few more ways to reduce sugar intake.
- Avoid sodas, energy drinks, juices, and sweetened teas. Instead, drink more water or puchase an alternative natural sweetener
- Opt for black coffee or use a zero-calorie, natural sweetener
- Add sweetness to plain yogurt by adding a dash of fresh or frozen fruits instead of buying flavored yogurt
- Eat whole fruits instead of sweetened fruit smoothies
- Use olive oil and vinegar for salad sweet dressing instead of honey mustard
- Eat cereals, granolas, and granola bars with under 4 grams of sugar per serving
- Use natural nut butter instead of sweet spreads like Nutella
You can also heavily limit added sugar intake by preparing your healthy meal at home instead of relying on fast food chains or delivery.