Negative Effects of Sugar
Is Sugar Addicting? Let’s discus this sugary sweet topic.
“Sugar is like a drug. If I have one bite, I need to eat it all. I can eat an entire panettone in one sitting.” — Stefano Gabbana, Fashion Designer
Why We Love Sugar?
A delicious, warm, and chocolatey lava cake, drizzled with chocolate syrup, with a side of vanilla ice cream makes your mouth water and your mind crave for it. Its sweet aroma fills your nostrils and pulls you closer to it. With spoon in hand, you pierce it and outpours hot chocolate lava. The first bite of chocolate lava cake with vanilla ice cream fills your brain with happy, blissful, and sweet thoughts.
Did our description of a lava cake make you crave for it?
Could you relate to the warm feelings you get after eating it?
If you said yes to both, this is exactly why we love sugar so much — it makes us happy! Whether it’s a chocolate chip cookie, a glazed donut, pecan pie, or strawberry shake, if it gives us a sugar rush, we love it!
We want more of it, and that is because sugar is an addiction. Once our taste buds become a fan of it, we can’t stop thinking about it. It makes our list of favorite desserts and when we crave for it, there’s no stopping us from getting it.
Let us ask you this — you see a jar of cookies. You would reach for it…most sane people would…so we’re assuming you would as well! How can you see a jar of cookies and not reach for them? — Simply unimaginable, right? We thought so too! Now, let’s look at the rich history of our love for sugar so much.
Brief History on Our Love for Sugar
To understand the history on our love for sugar, we need to go way back in time — to the time of apes. Millions and millions of years ago, our primate ancestors ate sugar-rich fruit and evolved into loving sweeter fruit, as it had a higher sugar content and gave them a much-desired energy boost.
Fast forward to the hunter and gatherer era where people relied on sugary fruits, syrups and honey for energy and fat. Our bodies break down sugar into glucose and fructose, and we need fructose to store fat. Yes, we know, what you’re thinking — who in their right mind would want to hold on to fat? Well, in that time of food shortages (and the inability to keep food for long periods), storing fat was a benefit, not a health risk.
Freshly Grown Sugar, No!
Looking at sugar in it’s natural state, the sugar cane, can come accross as healthy. Those tall green plants flowing in the breeze, soaking up all the sunshine. But in reality refined white sugar is a heavily processed food additive. White sugar is made by mechanical process that removes the molases from the raw sugar. Other additives in the process are phosphoric acid, lime and diatomaceous earth. When the refining process is complete what remains is a foodless additive. White sugar is 99% sucrose and is not healthy to digest.
Humans have the urge to intake sugar built into our DNA. According to a study published by Washington University, newborns have a distinct taste for sweet flavors as well as salt.
Unfortunately for us, our love for sugar has created a set of health related issues. Refined sugar increases childhood obesity rates, this points to our obsession with sugar as a health risk that starts young.
Is leaving sugar completely possible? – Not likely.
What we can do instead is limit our sugar intake.
How We Intake Sugar, and How Much?
Come on, your health is at stake so limiting your sugar intake is a compromise, and it is better than saying, “Stop all sugar!” Believe us, we consume a lot of sugar in our lifetime. Just look at the United States for instance. People in the U.S. consume sugar by the load, and they are paying the price for it with diseases and other health issues.
In 2011, around 79 million people in the United States had pre-diabetes and by 2017, that number increased to over 100 million. The report also stated that in 2015, 30.3 million people in the country had full on diabetes.
If the condition of pre-diabetes remains untreated, generally within five years, those people will develop diabetes. Kids are the most vulnerable as this is time when a person develops lifelong eating habits. In the United States, the average person consumes almost 66 pounds of sugar each year — that is the weight of a full grown Dalmatian! Americans consume 19.5 teaspoons of added sugar each day!
How much sugar should you eat to be remain healthy?
You should have no more than six teaspoons of added sugar each day for women and nine teaspoons of added sugar each day for men. For children, their sugar intake varies due to age and caloric requirements, but the range is anywhere between three to six teaspoons of added sugar each day. To narrow this down even more down, let’s discuss how added sugar affects children, teen, adults, and the elderly differently.
How Does Sugar Affect Children, Teens, Adults, and the Elderly?
Sugar effects children, teens, adults, and the elderly differently. As we age, we need to control our sugar cravings, as too much sugar will become a health risk, one that starts when you’re young, but worsens with age, if not controlled. Let’s look at each one:
· Children – 16% of their daily calories derives from added sugar
Tooth decay, hyperactivity, and increase in the risk of type 2 diabetes and obesity is all due to increased intake of sugar coupled with inactivity, children’s chances of developing one or more conditions increases. In addition to these conditions, their risk of developing cold, cough, and allergies due to a weakened immune system also increases. The immune system weakens because sugar changes the balance between good and bad bacteria.
· Teens – One-fifth of their calories derives from added sugar
Teens receive most of their sugar intake from sugary beverages such as sports drinks, energy drinks, and soda. By continuing to eat sugar, it can change their brain health and affect their nutrition and cognitive development. That is not all, teens on a sugary diet have a higher chance of being stressed and developing anxiety and depression. Sugar is also bad for your complexion, want clear skin? Limit your sugar intake.
· Adults – The top 20% eat on average of 721 calories of sugar each day
The implications on adult health is the same as teens. We are at a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes, obesity, depression, anxiety, and cognitive problems. If they want to set a better example for our children, we need to limit our sugar intake.
· Elderly – One in Four People Over the Age of 60 have diabetes in the United States.
Why do some elderly craze sugar so much? The older you get, the fewer taste buds you have. With age, your taste buds become less sensitive. By age 70, most people have lost two out of three taste buds. With their sense of taste on a steady decline, their sense of smell also declines.
Moreover, some medications and therapies to treat Alzheimer’s Disease and Parkinson’s disease also contribute to this. Their taste buds for all things sweet is the last to go, which why they crave sweets as they get older, and for their ailing health, this is not good.
Is Sugar Addicting?
Is sugar addictive? Scientists and researchers have found themselves on two separate spectrums of this debate. Some say it is while others say it isn’t. Dieting or fasting to loose weight involves limiting or stopping all sugar intake, which is very hard to do. Quitting sugar requires massive willpower to succeed. When our willpower wanes, we give in and call it cheat day!
Now, back to the debate
It all began when an author published an article in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, claiming that we should consider sugar as an addictive substance and should be on the same level as alcohol and other addictive substances.
The author’s supporting statement — “Sugar, just as opium and cocaine, is refined from plants to create pure white crystals, thus adding to its addictive properties.” The author further added, eating sugar produces the similar effects as cocaine — changing mood and inducing a sense of reward and pleasure — and this only makes people crave for more sugar.
Other scientists argue that even though sugar can be habit-forming, it is not addictive like cocaine and opiates and that people will not suffer from withdrawal symptoms if they quit eating sugar as they would with other substances.
Which side of debate are you on?
How to Limit Sugar Intake?
Limiting your sugar intake will improve your health in many ways. Here are a few simple tips to help you lower your sugar consumption:
· Learn the difference between added sugar and natural sugar. For instance, candies are added sugar whereas fruits, veggies are natural sugars. Natural sugars come with fiber which slows down the digestion of glucose.
· With more than 56 different names for added sugars, you need to learn about each name. Some of those names include maple syrup, sucrose, molasses, agave, brown rice syrup, high fructose corn syrup, dried cane syrup, any word that ends with “ose.”
. Soda is your enemy. Water is your friend. Stop drinking soda and switch to sparkling flavored water. You can also drink water infused with fruit or unsweetened tea. A simple lemon water is also refreshing.
· Buy unsweetened variety of almond milk, apple sauce, nut butter, and canned fruit. You should look for these two labels, “unsweetened” and “no added sugar” on products.
· Never, and we repeat, never buy anything on an empty stomach. If you visit the grocery store on an empty stomach, hunger pains will kick in and you will naturally be drawn to sugar.
· Eat more fruits than candies, this is common sense but start today!
· Dried and canned fruit seem healthy, but it is not! They contain juice concentrates, syrups, and sugar. Unless otherwise stated.
· Feeling like eating sugar? Trick your taste buds into thinking you are by drinking cinnamon, mint, or ginger tea, especially if you already have had your recommended sugar intake for the day.
Are Sugar Substitutes Safe?
Yes, sugar substitutes are safe and FDA approved. Adding these substitutes to food and drinks will sweeten or enhance flavor. You can buy sugar substitutes that are low in calories or have no calories at all. However, you should add them to your food and drink in small amounts, as they are generally sweeter than real sugar. Sugar substitutes help control weight, as they have fewer calories and decrease the risk of diseases such as diabetes. The types of sugar substitutes you can use are:
· Erythritol – Use in small amounts, as large amounts can lead to nausea
· Xylitol – Sweet as actual sugar and contains less than three quarters of the calories
· Stevia Leaf Extracts – Comes from stevia leaves, is safe to use, and has been consumed in Japan for several years
· Neotame – Is one of the safest sugar substitutes to consume, but does not taste as good as the other sugar substitutes on this list
The sugar substitutes that you should steer clear of is sucralose and aspartame, as they may lead to leukemia and cancer. More research needs to be conducted, but it is better to be safe than sorry, and when you have other sugar substitutes available, why risk it?
Coming to a Closure with Sugar
To sum it up, too much sugar is bad for you for the following reasons:
· Causes weight gain
· Increases your risk of heart disease
· Causes acne
· Increases your risk of diabetes
· May increase your risk of cancer
· May increase your risk of depression
· May accelerate the aging process
· Increases cellular aging
· Decreases your energy levels
· Leads to the development of fatty liver
· Increases the risk of cavities
· Increases the risk of gout
· Increases the risk of cognitive decline
Yes, we know this is a scary list and we bet you already knew some of these negative side effects. Sugar is sweet and delicious, it improves our mood temporarily and we just can’t part with it forever, and you don’t have to! Just simply limit your sugar intake, make healthy choices where you can, and consider using sugar substitutes.
Aren’t we sweet for offering this advice?