Got a sweet tooth? Here are some reasons to avoid sugar.
There’s no doubt that sugar makes food and drinks taste better. In fact, they’re so good that the average American consumes around 20 teaspoons of sugar daily. This is according to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.
That’s too much according to the American Heart Association (AMA). The AMA recommends no more than than 9 teaspoons of sugar a day for men. For women, it is 6 teaspoons.
As for the worst offenders, they’re your teenage boys.
The AMA says that teen boys consume over 360 calories from sugar. That’s close to 22 teaspoons a day. Adult men are almost as bad. They consume over 330 calories daily (20 teaspoons).
Additionally, the World Health Organization (WHO) also wants us to limit sugar. It recommends no more than 10% of daily calories come from sugar. And, limiting to 5% is ideal.
So why do the AMA and WHO want us to stop eating so much sugar?
Here are some great reasons why you should cut down on sugar consumption.
Why Sugar is Bad For You: Reasons to Avoid Sugar
1. Sugar Provides No Nutritional Benefits
Sugar, particularly refined white sugar, has no nutritional benefits.
It does not provide the body with any protein, minerals or vitamins. Instead, it is nothing more than empty calories that often get stored as unwanted fat.
Sugar is a source of energy and carbohydrate. It does help it giving us energy for a pick me up. But other than that it does not contain nutrients beneficial to the body.
That said, it is present, in fruits, vegetables, and other foods naturally. This is when it isn’t bad, as you get the minerals and vitamins from the fruits or vegetables.
In most uses, though, we add sugar to food or beverages for flavor. More often than not too much of it.
2. Sugar Is Bad For The Teeth
Sugar is a readily available source of energy for mouth bacteria. Thus, a diet high in sugar allows these harmful organisms to flourish.
This is why sugar is harmful to our teeth and oral health.
As mouth bacteria break sugars down, they are quickly converted into acids. The problem is, these acids also break down the our teeth’s protective enamel. Additionally, they demineralize tooth structure as well.
As this process continues, it will lead to more tooth decay. Eventually, it could result in tooth loss.
When it comes to added sugar, we can’t help but talk about soda.
And as far as soda goes, American Dental Association (ADA) has a strong opinion about them. They’re bad.
The ADA says that carbonated soft drinks, including diet soda, harm our teeth. This is because of their high sugar content and acidity.
It also recommends that if do drink soft drinks, have it with a glass of water to help prevent tooth decay.
3. Sugar Creates Insulin Resistance
People with high-sugar diets are more prone to developing insulin-related issues. These include diabetes and other metabolic problems.
Our bodies convert some of the sugar we eat into glucose. Normal levels of glucose is healthy. It is the energy supply our body’s cells use.
But, high amounts of glucose in the blood is very toxic. Over time, this toxicity can cause the insulin to stop working effectively. When this happens, our cells stop responding to insulin.
This is what’s called insulin resistance.
Once insulin resistance occurs, you are more likely to develop some health issues. These include diabetes, obesity, metabolic syndrome and cardiovascular disease.
A study by the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid that ran between 2008 to 2010 offers more light to the issue. Their data links sugar-sweetened beverages to insulin resistance and higher leptin. Both are early markers of metabolic disorder.
Here’s a more detailed explanation of insulin resistance, how it happens and how to avoid it.
4. Excess Sugar Can Lead To Fatty Liver Disease
Aside from metabolic disorders, research also links sugar-sweetened beverages to fatty liver disease.
One studies is from the USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging.
In their research, they did CT (computed tomography) studies on over 2,600 participants. Results show that these beverages increase your risk of developing fatty liver.
Participants who drank over 1 a day had higher risk compared to those who drank less than 1 a week.
Fatty liver disease often comes from either too much alcohol or high fructose intake. With drinks like sodas and fruit juices, it is the latter. That’s why they call it non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.
The body does not produce a lot of fructose. This is for good reason. It does not have a physiological need for it.
Due to this fact, this sugar isn’t properly processed by the body. And, it is often turned into fat instead.
This is especially true if the liver is already filled with glycogen. The end result can be lifelong liver problems. The only way to fix it is to change your diet.
5. Sugar Has Been Linked To Cancer
Sugar has been linked to cancer in a number of recent and past studies. Regular consumption of sugar can significantly increase a person’s chances of developing this illness.
Moreover, those who have cancer should know that sugar consumption will have a significant impact on their likelihood of success and survival.
As insulin resistance is increased, more insulin is invariably released by the body which has a very negative impact on overall health and immune functioning.
Excess sugars in the lower digestive tract are also believed to trigger the production of GIP, a hormone that is largely controlled by a protein called ß-catenin.
This protein can increase how susceptible cells are to the development of cancer.
6. Added Sugar Increases Blood Pressure
Most of us are aware that too much salt isn’t healthy. But without salt, food doesn’t taste as good as it does with it. So what alternative do many turn to?
That’s a bad idea.
Sugar isn’t often associated with high blood pressure. But, recent studies show that sugar consumption also causes high blood pressure. The sugar that’s in question are mostly in the form of sugary beverages. These include sodas, fruit juices and other sweetened drinks.
Research in the journal Open Heart tells us that reducing sugar is as important as cutting down on sodium.
Decreasing the amount of sodium in our diets lowers our blood pressure.
The study notes that individuals saw an average drop of as much as 4.8 mm Hg in their systolic blood pressure. That’s the top number of your blood pressure.
They also saw the bottom number (diastolic) drop as much as 2.5 mm Hg.
Meanwhile, drinking more than 12 oz. of a sugary drink daily does the opposite. It increases systolic blood pressure by at least 1.8 mm Hg over the next 18 months.
Research performed by the Griffin Hospital in Connecticut also confirms this. They compiled 12 studies that linked higher blood pressure to sugar-sweetened beverages.
As mentioned, the AMA’s limits on sugar is 6 teaspoons (25 grams) for women, and 9 teaspoons (37 grams) for men.
The problem is, around 25% of Americans drink 1 or more serving of sugary drink per day. And one 12 oz. can of soda already contains 33 grams of sugar.
7. Sugar Increases Your Risk of Heart Disease by Raising Cholesterol and Triglycerides
By increasing our blood pressure levels, sugar adds to our risk of getting heart disease later on in life. It doesn’t stop there, though.
Sugar is well known for causing us to gain weight. What most of us aren’t aware of is that it also increases our lipid profile.
Researchers at Emory University observed that added sugar harms your cholesterol numbers.
Individuals with more added sugar in their diets showed higher LDL cholesterol. That’s the bad kind. They also had lower HDL cholesterol. That’s the good kind.
Additionally, these individuals also had higher triglycerides.
As a result, their lipid profile is the complete opposite of what you want it to be.
To add to the problem, the extra bad cholesterol is what clogs up our arteries. Plus, it increases your risk of heart attacks.
On average, Americans consume about 21 teaspoons of sugar daily. This comes from various sources, including sodas and fruit drinks. The number goes up even more for teenagers.
Either way, the total consumption of sugar is way over the limit set by the AMA’s guidelines above.
8. Sugar is Addictive
Notice that you often want to drink than 1 glass of juice or can of soda?
And after a while, you just can’t go a day without drinking soda until it becomes a habit?
The same is true on how difficult it is to cut back or completely cut sugar out of your diet.
There’s a reason for that.
The sugar that’s contained in these sweetened beverages is downright addictive.
The reason behind this is that consuming sugar releases a large amount of dopamine. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that controls the brain’s ‘pleasure system’.
Our body releases this hormone during pleasurable situations. And in doing so stimulates us to want to seek out more of it.
When this happens, that vicious cycle of feeling pleasure and looking for more of it arises.
To a degree, it is like why people get addicted to drugs. It has to do with the increase of dopamine.
To see what happens, researchers at Princeton University did a test on rats. Here, they increased the amount of sugar fed to the animals over a period. They saw that having sugar on a daily basis repeatedly releases dopamine in the brain’s accumbens shell.
This is part of the reason why sugar becomes addictive the more we consume it.
9. Sugar Can Lead to Osteoporosis by Robbing Your Bones of Minerals
Whenever we talk about bones, calcium always enters the picture. This is for good reason, as it is the main mineral that’s involved in stimulating bone growth.
But, excess sugar interferes with calcium absorption. This means you can drink milk or taking your calcium supplements religiously. Yet, still end up with weak bones if you always drink sugary drinks, or consume a lot of sugar in your diet.
Sugar is what’s called a “bone robber”.
It causes our bodies to take calcium from our bones and flush it out in our urine.
A study in the British Journal of Urology mentions this. Increasing refined sugar in the diet, also increases urinary calcium concentration. The study shows that how much refined sugar you consume affects the amount of calcium in your urine.
Now many people get their daily sugar fill from soft drinks and carbonated beverages. Problem is there’s another “bone robber” that’s involved here.
Many of these drinks contain phosphorus. Too much of which, also promotes calcium loss.
Aside from calcium and vitamin D, there are other minerals needed for our bones to be healthy. These are magnesium and copper.
Both are also interfered with when you have excess sugar in your body. This happens either by increasing their excretion, as in the case of magnesium. Or, preventing their proper absorption, as in the case of copper.
10. Sugar Increases Your Uric Acid Levels (Which Can Lead to Gout)
Uric acid is a chemical that’s formed when the body breaks down purines. Purines are present in foods and drinks we consume. Though some food contain more purines than others.
High uric acid levels occur when you consume too many purines in your diet. And, your body isn’t able to get rid of it fast enough. This is when gout happens.
Gout is a painful form of arthritis.
More recently, sugars, more specifically fructose, is being linked to higher uric acid.
Fruit juices and sodas are high in fructose. The problem with fructose is that it causes fat deposits to form. And, now we also know if plays a role in increasing uric acid levels.
Fructose is a big factor in the rising obesity problem. This is because it is very common in the American diet. You find it is many foods and drinks.
But the issues it causes go far more than that. It causes many serious health problems, including gout. The others include:
- High blood pressure
- Heart disease
- High cholesterol
- Fatty liver disease
- Kidney disease
When we consume fructose, it becomes uric acid. When our bodies metabolize fructose it forms uric acid. Unfortunately, fructose is the only sugar that becomes uric acid. So this is bad news for soft drink and store bought juice drinkers.
11. Excess Sugar Causes Premature Aging (and Leads to Wrinkles)
Aging is part of life.
But, what we eat and our lifestyle does have an effect on how fast our bodies age. One of the things that can speed up our aging process, and introduce premature aging is glycation.
Glycation is the process by which sugar molecules in our bodies bind with proteins. It’s a natural thing that occurs in our bodies.
The process of glycation results in AGEs or advanced glycation end products. These are harmful compounds that contribute to aging and all the effects of aging.
The good news is our body has built in mechanisms to get rid of AGEs.
The bad news is that too much sugar results in more AGEs than the body can handle. It’s the extra sugar that causes more AGEs.
The accumulation of AGEs leads to premature aging. So, you get wrinkles in your skin as well as chronic diseases. You also get age related issues like diabetes, heart disease, cataracts and others.
Eating more sugar, means more AGEs formed in your body. And the more they accumulate, the more damage they can cause.
That means all foods and drinks with sugar can harm you. It can be sugar-sweetened drink. Or, food like candy and cakes.
Lowering your sugar intake is the only way to reduce the amount of AGEs formed.
Exercise also helps. That’s because we burn the sugars stored in our bodies during workouts.