Most of us love sugar and it’s added to just about everything. We know that it’s in fun junk foods like soft drinks and candy but it turns up in other places that you might not notice. You can find added sugars in oatmeal, juices, yogurt, protein bars, nut butters, salad dressing, tomato sauce, and many others. It is important to be aware of these sources of sugar. Too much sugar has been shown in droves of studies to be detrimental to your health. It is also important to understand the negative of effects of sugar from head to toe…
Differences Between Sugars
The topic of sugar sometimes gets confusing because there are different kinds of sugar and they affect the body in different ways. The body makes sugars like glucose and lactose and these are important. Refined sugars are the white substances that are added to foods.
They are what we normally think of when we think of sugar. This kind of sugar, even if it made from something like glucose, is bad for you and you will feel the effects over time. But there are also natural or simple sugars in foods like fruit, vegetables, beans, whole grains and nuts.
These sugar are from whole foods that have not been refined and they are digested with lots of other nutrients that are healthy and can even slow down the process of digesting sugars. These other nutrients that are digested with sugar are one of the key elements of why some are better for you than others. When we talk about the negative effects of sugar on the body, we are referring to the refined sugars with no nutritional value.
Effects On Your Brain
Sugar can have many detrimental effects on the brain. Studies with animals have shown that it may be linked to impaired cognition and though there are many factors involved, sugar could also decrease memory. Excess sugar could result in a build up of a protein called beta amyloid which is thought to be one of the causes of dementia.
Another mental health problem tied to sugar is depression. One study with 70,000 women showed that those with higher sugar intake, including non whole grains or refined grains, increased their risk of depression. Foods that lowered the risk included lactose, fiber, vegetables, and fruit that was not from juice. J
uice has all the sugars of fruit but not all the nutrients. Sugar can also decrease energy and increase tension or fatigue. On top of all of that, sugar can be a very strongly addictive substance not unlike addiction to drugs.
Effects On Your Body
Sugars also have detrimental effects on your body. You are likely aware that sugar can cause tooth decay, cavities, and diabetes but it doesn’t stop there. Sugar can be hard on the liver much like alcohol and it can cause weight gain. Insulin allows sugar to enter cells from the bloodstream but sometimes cells become resistant to insulin.
When that happens, sugar stays in the bloodstream so more is stored in fat cells and the chances for type 2 diabetes increases. Sugar has also been tied to cardiovascular diseases, kidney problems and high blood pressure. Even though sugary sweets are widely available and mostly thought of as fun or harmless, one study concluded that it was so harmful that it should be controlled like alcohol.
Final Thoughts On The Negative Effects Of Sugar
We’ve talked a lot about “excessive” sugar intake in this article and you may not think that applies to you. However, it may be easier to consume excess sugar than you think. The average American consumes 756 grams of sugar every five days which is equal to 35.4 teaspoons a day.
The World Health Organization recommends only 6 teaspoons of free sugar a day according to the BBC. Sugar also “hides” on ingredient lists where many substances are sugar even though they have other names. These include maltose, glucose, lactose, fructose, molasses, corn syrup, cane sugar, agave nectar, and honey.
Some of these and others are marketed as good sugar substitutes but that might not necessarily be the case. And don’t forget that sugar turns up in surprising places; in everyday foods like tomato sauce and salad dressings. Furthermore, refined carbs like french fries and white bread are broken down into sugars that act the same way as other refined sugar.
But take heart, it is not impossible to avoid bad sugars and it does not have to be painful. A whole food plant based diet has sweet alternatives from natural sources like stevia or syrup made from dates. Many fruits are also quite sweet on their own so something like fruit smoothies with bananas and berries are sweet without adding any refined sugars at all.
It is possible to beat sugar addictions or to decrease sugar intake. You can also learn to enjoy foods that are less sweet but these things may take time. Be patient with yourself and have fun experimenting with alternative sources of sweet but healthy foods.