A lot has been said recently about the dangers of too much sugar. It is without question one of the worst ingredients that we consume. Not only does it affect our metabolism, but it also contributes towards a number of health-related issues – negatively impacting on our health and costing the NHS vast amounts of money.
Even our teeth despise sugar. Added sugars (fructose, sucrose and corn syrup) are bad for your teeth because they provide easily digestible energy for the bad bacteria that is in your mouth and they contain NO essential nutrients but an awful lot of calories.
Ultimately, there is little going for sugar apart from the satisfaction of our devilish sweet tooth. There are no proteins, essential fats, minerals or vitamins in sugar – just pure energy! If you eat up to 10-20% of calories as sugar (or more), this can become a major problem and contribute to nutrient deficiencies.
What actually are the health risks of sugar?
Before sugar enters the bloodstream from the digestive tract, it is broken down into two simple sugars… glucose and fructose.
- Glucose is found in every living cell on the planet. If we don’t get it from the diet, our bodies produce it for us.
- Fructose is different. Our bodies do not produce it in any significant amount and there is no physiological need for it.
Fructose is metabolised by the liver and, when consumed in excess, can be a leading cause of obesity and diabetes (by creating insulin resistance) – two significant health concerns around the world. If the liver is already full of glycogen (much more common), eating a lot of fructose overloads the liver, forcing it to turn the fructose into fat, leading to a fatty liver. Bear in mind that this does NOT apply to fruit as it is almost impossible to overeat fructose by eating fruit.
There are, of course, many variables based on every individual. For example, people who are active and healthy can tolerate a greater amount of sugar than those who are inactive and eat a high-carb, high-calorie diet.
Insulin is a very important hormone in our body. It allows glucose (blood sugar) to enter cells from the bloodstream and it tells the cells to start burning glucose instead of fat. Having too much glucose in the blood is highly toxic and it is one of the reasons that cause complications of diabetes such as blindness. As insulin resistance becomes worse the pancreas can’t keep up with the demand of producing enough insulin to keep blood sugar levels down. This is when your blood sugar levels increase and you could be diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.
It’s time to think about how much sugar you are eating
So the health risks are clear. To make matters worse, sugar is highly addictive because it causes massive dopamine releases in the brain (causing feelings of happiness). Much the same as abusive drugs, sugar causes a release of dopamine in the reward centre of our brains. For this reason, people who have a susceptibility to addiction can become addicted to sugar and other junk foods – leading to excessive weight gain and high risk of other diseases.
It is well documented that sugar is the leading contributor to obesity in both adults and children, and with obesity rates continually rising it is time sugar intake is addressed. The way sugar affects hormones and the brain is a recipe for fat gain. It is not surprising that people who consume the most sugar are by far the most likely to become overweight or obese and sadly this applies to all age groups. So do something about it now, cut down your sugar intake and partake in a healthy and active lifestyle.
Health Ambition: ‘If you don’t believe sugar is all that bad for you, just eliminate it from your life for a while and see how you feel, watch your energy levels soar, your immune system come to life, and your skin glow. Then, decide for yourself.‘
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