The world knows that too much sugar will land you some cavities. Beyond having a perfect smile, is sugar bad for you? The answer is a heck yes!
You might justify your sugar cravings from stress, fatigue, pregnancy or even from a crummy day. The horrifying truth is that sugar is highly addictive and it’s easy for anyone to get caught up in a seemingly harmless sugar binge.
People have been taking a stand by cutting out added sugars in the famous 30 day sugar free challenge, with the sugar-free man himself, Barry Friedman (myself included).
The effects of sugar can cause seriously toxic effects to your body. The effects of sugar have been compared to cocaine on numerous occasions.
You should think twice before finishing off the leftover cake or grabbing a donut for an extra 25 cents with your coffee. Let’s take a look at how bad sugar is for you, the side effects, and simple ways you can reduce your sugar intake without pulling teeth – literally.
Why is sugar bad for you?
Like most substances, sugar is not harmful when eaten in small amounts. The simple reason sugar is bad for you is that it breaks down into glucose and fructose that is then stored in the body. Glucose can be used by almost all cells in the body for energy.
Fructose is completely different. The Harvard Health Blog suggests that fructose may be the culprit to obesity and diabetes.
Small amounts of sugar are used for energy, but excessive supplies can cause major harm. More on that in the next section.
Excessive sugar intake is common in people of all ages. Since it’s high in fructose, it can overload your liver causing liver disease and all sorts of other unwanted diseases.
Side effects of sugar.
What does sugar do to your body? Plenty. Too much sugar can cause a host of problems that may be serious and long-lasting. According to the American Heart Association, sugar and heart disease are strongly linked. Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. Eating too much sugar can also cause high blood pressure, which can then lead to kidney disease and stroke.
The most common effect we see in America is the rising rate of obesity. It’s no surprise that extra calories cause weight gain. Obesity can lead to harmful diseases and disorders such as coronary heart disease, high blood pressure, metabolic syndrome, sleep apnea, osteoarthritis, gallstones, and type 2 diabetes.
Sure enough, processed sugars can negatively effect your brain too.
Studies show that diets including excess sugar can lead to poor memory retention. This is likely due to extra sugar blocking insulin from properly using stored glucose. Instead of regulating that glucose to be used for energy, memory receptors are blocked. This is bad news for every student that enjoys a sweet treat when studying.
Teeth are arguably damaged the most by a diet that is high in sugar. Sugar is applied directly when consumed causing teeth to decay and develop cavities. Sugar also helps create plaque, which can lead to gum disease. This is true even to those people who brush and floss regularly.
Health benefits of sugar.
Mama always said – everything in moderation.
Just as too much sugar will harm your body, inadequate intake can cause problems too. Side effects of a no sugar diet include sluggishness and lethargy. The body converts sugar into glucose, which is then used for energy.
Glycolic acid in sugar can also make your skin glow and look healthier. This is why sugar is often added to natural face scrubs. A diet low in sugar may lead to a dull complexion.
What is too much sugar?
It’s difficult to know how much sugar is the “right” amount.
The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends limiting the amount of processed sugars to no more than half of your daily calorie allowance. For women, this is about 100 calories per day and for men, it’s no more than 150 calories.
Other experts suggest that adults should consume no more than 30 grams of sugar, or five percent of their daily caloric intake, per day. For the best nutrition, sugar should ideally come from natural sources, like fruit and fruit juices.
If you overdo it with sweets you’ll begin to notice your body behaving differently. The symptoms of too much sugar are vast. Many people don’t realize that their health concerns are almost entirely due to their diet.
Feeling extra hungry is a common symptom in high sugar diets. Sugar can disrupt brain patterns, making the brain believe it is hungry when it is actually satiated. Cravings are also very common with excessive sugar. Because sugar behaves like a drug, people who regularly consume extra sugar find themselves wanting more and more.
Not to mention, it doesn’t exactly help you sleep better.
Actionable tips to limit your sugar intake.
Sugar is one of the easiest parts of a diet to control. This often starts with looking at drinks.
Most sugar in the United States is consumed through beverages like soda and fruit juices. Substitute those drinks for water or unsweetened tea as much as possible.
People with true sugar addictions may find this difficult at first. Here’s a method that has worked great for me.
“Trade” one sugary drink for a non-sugary beverage each week. From there, you can increase your sugar free drinks on a week-by-week basis. This makes this daunting task more doable and will provide massive benefits to your health in the long term. This system will help control your sugar intake in a manageable way.
Read labels. Sugar can be hiding in the most unexpected places. Canned food, processed meals, and even frozen potatoes or meats may contain a day’s supply of sugar.
Luckily, there are usually sugar-free alternatives. For example, you can find fruit packed in water rather than syrup.
Also, buy fresh food as often as possible in order to avoid the sugar and preservatives that appear in prepackaged meals.
Along with labels, wise consumers need to learn the various names of the sweet stuff. Savvy marketers have learned to call sugar by names such as dried cane syrup, sucrose, evaporated cane juice, and many others. These are all forms of sugar or high fructose corn syrup that should be avoided as much as possible.
If flavor is the primary reason for sugar, there are plenty of natural substitutions that can take its place. Try using vanilla bean, cinnamon, nutmeg, or fennel to create a healthy dish that packs a flavorful punch.
Sugar is like a party in your mouth, but a lifetime hangover. The long term negative effects outweigh the seconds of sweet tasty goodness.
Worst of all, sugar intake is misunderstood by a lot of families. This communicates bad health habits in children from an early age and significantly increases their probability of disease and obesity in future generations.
But it’s not too late. Start creating a healthy lifestyle for your family by removing sugar in the small ways.
Dilute your orange juice. Create fun ways to trade your kids for their Halloween candy. Try fruit platters instead of cake on birthdays.
It might seem like a stretch at first, but your body and family will thank you.
What’s a simple way you’ve been able to cut excessive sugar out of your diet?