Most people know that sugar is bad for them, but just how bad is what you really should know. We are, today, increasingly consuming sugar in excess amounts through our food choices, cravings and simply indulgences. Research indicates that worldwide we are consuming at least about 500 extra calories a day just from sugar. We don’t think twice about handing candy bars to our kids and enjoying sweet laden foods and drinks. We simply think in calorie terms and satisfy ourselves with the thought that we can work it off. But if you really knew what damage it is doing to your body, you would think twice.
I come across clients who are happy to go on a diet, gym extra hours but not ready to give up on their sweet cravings. I am especially concerned about young children who are given sugar in varying forms – sweets, candies, drinks, cookie, cakes – without too much thought by indulgent parents. Please read on to learn from these assimilated points on how sugar can damage you.
• Increases risk of heart diseases. Sugar can actually damage your heart. It affects the pumping mechanism of your heart putting you at risk. Certain findings indicate that a molecule from sugar and starch known as glucose 6-phospate is responsible for changes in the muscle protein of the heart which can eventually lead to heart failure.
• Promotes belly fat. Adult obesity rates have tripled in the last three decades, while childhood obesity has doubled. Fructose laden beverages cause visceral fat cells to mature creating bigger bellies and future risk of heart diseases and diabetes.
• Sugar is considered to be a silent killer as it creates leptin resistance in the body. Leptin is a hormone that tells you when you have had enough food. If you have gained weight in the past year and can’t figure out why, look at how much fructose you are feeding your body.
• Research has made a connection between insulin resistance and cancer. Sugars in the intestine help form a hormone that is controlled by a protein (β-catenin) which is dependent on sugar levels and causes and releases increased insulin into the pancreas. This protein affects the cells susceptibility to cancer. Studies also find negative associations between high sugar and starch intake and survival rates in breast and colon cancer patients.
• Sugar addiction can be genetic. Those who have genetic changes in ghrelin, a hormone that tells your brain you are hungry, consume more sugar and alcohol. Also note that even if you are not overweight, liver damage could still occur. Weight gain is not the only indicator.
• Sugar accelerates the ageing process and can sap brain power. From wrinkles to chronic diseases to affecting the ageing of your brain, sugar can also create deficiencies in memories and overall cognitive health.
• When people eat up to 10-20 percent or more of calories as sugar, it can contribute to nutritional deficiencies and cause ill effects on your health
• Sugar is no friend to the health of your teeth as it provides easily digestible energy for the bad bacteria in your mouth. Lookout for sugar in disguise for example in tomato sauce, tonic water, crackers and even bread besides the normal candies, cookies and cakes.
• Sugar makes you fat. Unlike foods that are rich in fiber, fat and protein all of which give you a feeling of fullness, sugar only gives calories without the necessary nutrients. For example you can eat a bag of candies while watching your favourite tv show, yet be ready for dinner as the show finishes. However it is important to know that simple sugars from milk or fruits – for example – don’t display the same negative health effects.
While it can be extremely difficult to decrease your overall sugar consumption drastically, try to do it slowly and consciously without having to feel the frustration of deprivation. But know and understand that eliminating artificial sugar from your diet has immense health benefits and your body and mind will thank you for it.