Almost all processed or packed foods that we consume today contain some form of sugar, from marinara sauce to peanut butter. It's a necessity to have a clear knowledge about how much sugar you should consume and what could be the negative effects of increased consumption.
Let's first understand the body's natural response to sugar.
The pancreas is an organ located in the abdomen. It plays an essential role in converting the food we eat into fuel for the body's cells. pancreas contain beta cells (β cells) that stimulate hormones (insulin) that regulate blood sugar levels.
When we take in sugar, it rushes all over the body to which the beta cells send alarming signals to secrete insulin. Insulin rushes over for dumping all the sugar to the muscles to be used as energy and the remaining is stored as fat in the body. Over time with the overloading of sugar/ refined carbohydrates the β cells burn out causing a stage of pre-diabetes.
If β cells weaken and the diet does not change it leads to various dysfunction of organs and other serious health issues like pancreatitis, liver dysfunction, kidney failures, heart disease, Alzheimer's, etc.
Here is why sugar is dangerous to our health:
1. Sugar increases the risk of obesity, diabetes, and heart disease:
Have you heard people saying sugar contains nothing but empty calories? This is because the only function of sugar is to add taste to your food. Sugar contains no vitamins, minerals, or fiber.
Excess consumption of sugar puts an extra load on your liver, when this your body has extra calories that are not being used it's converted and stored as fat in the body. Causing high-fat accumulation, leading to a person being overweight and obese.
In obese individuals, the amount of nonesterified fatty acids, glycerol, hormones, cytokines, pro-inflammatory markers, and other substances that are involved in the development of insulin resistance, is increased. All of this causes other health complications like diabetes, heart disease, renal failure, liver damage, etc.
2. Sugar accelerates ageing.
Nowadays, everyone is concerned with skin beauty & ageing. In an effort to look good we first approach expensive cosmetic lines that instantly make us look younger. What people don't understand is that their diet plays a major role in ageing, especially sugar.
Studies have confirmed that refined sugar accelerates the ageing process by adding inches to our waistlines and wrinkles to our face
Excess processed sugar in your diet, even in small amounts can cause dark circles, wrinkles, dehydrated skin and can fast track the aging process.
Sugar enters the body and binds with a protein called glycation. Elastin and collagen are two protein compounds that are the building blocks of the skin. Upon glycation, toxic compounds called Advanced Glycation End Products or AGEs are produced. These can cause wrinkles, sagging, dark circles under the eyes.
3. Sugar can cause gum disease
As kids, our parents have restricted us from eating too much of chocolates & sweet foods. Well, most of us may not know the exact science behind this. Let me quickly explain.
Your mouth has many different natural bacteria. Quite a few of these bacteria are actually beneficial — however, the bad bacteria can cause very serious damage. Glucose which is present in your saliva—the fluid in your mouth that makes food wet and digestible, can combine with your saliva & food to form a soft, sticky film called plaque.
The bad bacteria after consuming the sugar, start to make acids that are highly damaging to your teeth. This can cause bacterial infections and even more serious periodontal disease fairly quickly if you don’t take action. Some types of plaque cause tooth decay or cavities. Other types of plaque cause gum disease and bad breath. Gum disease can be more severe and take longer to heal if you have diabetes. In turn, having gum disease can make your blood glucose hard to control.
4. Sugar affects cognition in children:
In humans, high-glycemic foods have been found to activate regions of the brain associated with the reward response and provoke more intense feelings of hunger compared to low-glycemic foods.
Increased sugar intake interferes with the ability of the brain to function normally, or even remember little details about one’s environment in the event that it’s consumed in large quantities before adulthood.
Increased sugar levels tend to increase resistance to insulin, a hormone that is vital for brain functioning through blood sugar control. Extreme levels of sugar in children can cause interference with neurotransmitters responsible for keeping moods stable. This often leads to depression and anxiety in children.
Moreover, high sugar levels can cause inflammation of cells in an area of the brain known as the hippocampus. This area plays a critical role in organizing and storing memories as well as connecting senses and emotions to those memories.
5. Sugar increases stress:
When you’re stressed, the body releases more cortisol, a hormone responsible for helping us manage both stress and blood sugar levels. When you consume excess sugar your blood sugar levels spike, and the body must release more cortisol to balance blood sugar. This sudden increase and decreases of blood sugar along with rising cortisol levels can lead to sleep issues, decreased immune response, headaches, and unhealthy food cravings
If you observe your daily routine and your mood you might find the days when you consume high amounts of sugar you quickly get stressed.
6. Sugar can cause acne:
Foods with a high glycemic index, such as processed sweets, raise your blood sugar more rapidly.
In a study conducted in Turkey, with over 2,300 teens demonstrated that those who frequently consumed added sugar had a 30% greater risk of developing acne(1).
It has also been found that rural communities have almost non-existent rates of acne when compared to urban communities. This is because of the varying habits. Rural communities mostly consume traditional, non-processed foods whereas in high-income areas we tend to consume tasty processed foods with lots of added sugars.
Sugar intake wasn't a big concern over a decade ago, back then sugar was just a jar of white sugar on your table, now sugar is hidden in almost every food. Excess consumption of sweetened foods and beverages can lead to weight gain, blood sugar problems, and an increased risk of heart disease, among other dangerous conditions.
For these reasons, added sugar should be kept to a minimum whenever possible, which is easy when you follow a healthy diet based on whole foods.
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