Sugar is not your Friend but your Deadly Enemy
No doubt you already know sugar contains a lot of calories, but did you know too much sugar in your diet can have detrimental effects on your health? Many people don’t realize how much sugar they consume since added sugar is in almost all prepared food products including ones from the store and foods you order when you dine out.
You May Be Consuming More Sugar Than You Realize
One of the problems with sugar is that it is high in calories yet offers no nutritional value. One teaspoon of granulated white sugar contains 16 calories. That may not sound like much, but consider most 12 ounce sodas contain 13 teaspoons of sugar. That translates to 208 calories from sugar in a 12 ounce soda.
How many sodas do you drink per day? A recent study showed the average American drinks 2.6 servings of soda each day. If each serving is 12 ounces that comes to almost 541 calories just from soda. For a woman who eats 2,000 calories per day and drinks two sodas per day, over 20 percent of her calorie intake is from just the sugar in the sodas she drinks.
And that’s not counting the sugar in coffee, on cereal, and sugar in the food we eat. Hidden sugar can be found in BBQ sauce, ketchup, pasta sauce, and many other processed foods. In fact, the average American eats a whopping 66 pounds of sugar each year! As you can see the average diet contains a lot of sugar.
It’s Not Just Table Sugar
While it’s easy to keep track of how much sugar you put in your coffee and on your cereal, sugar comes in many forms. Sugar goes by many names.
- Corn sweetener
- Corn syrup
- Fruit juice concentrates
- High fructose corn syrup
- Invert sugar
- Malt syrup
- Raw sugar
- Sugar syrup
- Cane crystals
- Cane sugar
- Crystalline fructose
- Evaporated cane juice
- Corn syrup solids
- Malt syrup
- Other ingredients
This list is not a complete list of names sugar goes by. One thing to look for when looking for hidden sugar is any ingredient which ends in the suffix “ose”. This is usually a form of sugar. Manufacturers add sugar to foods to make them taste better and to appeal to our palette. Always read the list of ingredients on the foods you buy and look for the many names of sugar.
What Sugar Does to Your Body
Sugar enters your bloodstream through your digestive tract. But first your body needs to break it down into two types of sugar; glucose and fructose. Sucrose is in every cell of your body and if our diet doesn’t provide it our bodies produce it, but fructose can only be metabolized by your liver.
The liver stores the fructose in the form of glycogen. If you eat too much fructose (fresh fruits and vegetables don’t count) the liver converts the glycogen to fat. This can lead to a fatty liver, Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD), and many serious health issues.
Another serious health issue caused by the consumption of excessive amounts of sugar is insulin resistance. The body uses the hormone insulin to metabolize glucose. Insulin enables the cells to burn glucose for energy. Studies have shown consuming sugar is associated with insulin resistance. If your body is resistant to insulin it can lead to serious health conditions including cardiovascular disease, obesity, metabolic syndrome, and especially type II diabetes.
Type II Diabetes
Type I diabetes, which usually presents in childhood, prevents the body from producing insulin. People with Type I diabetes must take insulin each day to survive.
Type II diabetes occurs when the body can’t use the insulin it produces. The cells become resistant to insulin and cannot process the sugar you eat. This causes the sugar in your blood to rise and puts you at risk for the complications of Type II diabetes. According to the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), people who consume sugar-sweetened drinks have an 83 percent greater chance of developing Type II diabetes than those who do not.
The good news is Type II diabetes can sometimes be controlled by diet and exercise. Eating a healthy diet and limiting sugar combined with an exercise program counteracts the effects of Type II diabetes in some people.
Sugar is Highly Addictive
Sugar can be addictive because when you eat it the brain releases dopamine in the pleasure center of the brain making you feel good. You consume more sugar looking for that “sugar high” much like a drug addict looking for the high from drugs. Junk foods and foods high in sugar cause a massive dopamine dump. If you are susceptible to addiction, this can be bad news and lead to a sugar addiction. While everything in moderation is a good mantra, for some of us abstinence is the only answer.
Sugar Adds to the Obesity Epidemic
Added sugar is nothing but empty calories. Unlike the natural sugars found in fruit and other natural foods, it only adds calories to your diet. Your body only needs a certain number of calories to maintain your weight. Any more and it is stored as fat. If you consume a lot of sugar your body won’t need all the calories and will begin to store it as fat. According to a recent paper published by Dr. David S. Ludwig, MDa., Karen E. Peterson ScDb., and Steven L. Gortmaker PhDc published in the Lancet, sugar is the number one cause of obesity in children and adults. Obesity puts you at greater risk for heart disease, high blood pressure, certain types of cancer, and stroke.
Sugar can lead to many health issues, but you can make better choices and lead a healthier lifestyle. Fresh fruits are always an excellent choice. Your body can use the fructose found in fresh fruit and it does no lead to a fatty liver. Fresh vegetables and lean meats and dairy as well as whole grains round out a healthy diet and lower your risks from consuming too much sugar.