I’m sure that all of you have heard A LOT about added sugars recently and how detrimental they are to your health. This is true, I avoid them like the plague and have so for at least 6 years now.
But the question is... WHY??? I will explain to you as simply as I can a few of the ways that added sugars affects your health and WHY you need to reduce your consumption of this toxic white substance.
1. Sugar causes TOOTH DECAY.
The harmful bacteria in your mouth that cause tooth decay LOVE this stuff. They feed on it and multiply when it is around. So if you're commonly consuming sugar it can lead to tooth decay.
2. Sugar provides EMPTY CALORIES.
Unlike most foods, sugar provides energy for your body (calories) WITHOUT any accompanying nutrients. What does this mean? This means that you are fueling your body with calories that have absolutely NO benefit to your body. So, if eaten in place of whole foods, you are put at a high risk of developing NUTRIENT DEFICIENCIES and GAINING WEIGHT.
3. Weight loss becomes a WHOLE LOT HARDER
Did you know that sugar consumption causes the same response in the brain as cocaine?!?
The more sugar you eat, the more you crave it. This leads to an increased consumption of calories which of course leads to weight gain.
Also, when sugar is in the blood, INSULIN is around. When insulin is around, your fat burning abilities go on hold! So the MORE INSULIN you have in your blood, the HARDER IT IS TO BURN FAT.
So if you eat less sugar, your insulin levels will remain LOW and your body is able to access its fat stores to BURN.
4. Excess sugar can cause a FATTY LIVER.
Sucrose (the white sugar that is most commonly added to foods) is made up of FRUCTOSE and GLUCOSE.
GLUCOSE is taken up and metabolised by every single cell in our body for energy, however FRUCTOSE is different. FRUCTOSE can only be metabolised by the liver.
If eaten in small amounts (ie in whole fruits), fructose can be metabolised by the liver and then any excess that isn’t “burnt” can be converted to a molecule called glycogen and stored in the liver. However, if fructose is eaten in EXCESS (ie from added sugars) it is turned to FAT.
As this fat leaves the liver, some of it can lodge onto the liver and start to form a FATTY LIVER. This fat on the liver is STRONGLY ASSOCIATED with METABOLIC DISEASES.
EXCESS FRUCTOSE ALSO…
· Elevates triglycerides
· Increases harmful LDL cholesterol
· Promotes the build up of fat around organs (visceral fat)
· Increases blood pressure
· Increases the production of free radicals (compounds that can damage DNA and cells)
All of these factors are detrimental to your heart and arteries and increase your risk of cardiovascular disease!
Around 25 g of fructose per day is safe for consumption to stay clear of these harmful effects.
5. Excess sugar can cause INSULIN RESISTANCE, which then progresses to TYPE 2 DIABETES.
Insulin is released after you eat ANY type of carbohydrate / sugar as these all break down into GLUCOSE. Insulin's job is to take glucose from the blood into your cells. Glucose in the blood needs to remain very stable, insulin ensures that blood glucose levels do not remain high after a meal.
The more glucose you consume, the more insulin needs to be pumped out by your pancreas.
If insulin is around too often in high quantities (as a result of eating refined carbohydrates and added sugars), cells can become resistant to it and more and more insulin is required to get the glucose inside the cells.
This insulin resistance is the leading driver of many diseases including obesity, cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes.
6. Excess sugar can increase your risk of developing CANCER AND OTHER CHRONIC DISEASES.
Insulin is one of the key hormones in the regulation of cancer growth as cancer cells use glucose as their primary fuel source. So when insulin levels are constantly high (which happens after sugar/refined carbohydrate consumption), cancer cells thrive. Many studies have shown that people who eat a lot of sugar are at a much higher risk of getting cancer.
Excess sugar is metabolised to FAT and leads to all of these diseases
Type 2 diabetes
Hypertension (high blood pressure)
How do you know if you're eating too much sugar?
Do you commonly consume any of these foods? If so, chances are that you are consuming too much sugar.
Added sugars HIDE in SO MANY foods. Around 79% of processed foods contain added sugars, and lots of these products are marketed to be healthy!!
Beware, it also takes on many different names...
So, what is a safe amount to consume?
No more than 6 teaspoons for women and 9 for men, per day, is recommended to avoid these detrimental health effects (1 teaspoon equates to 4 grams of added sugar)
This can add up very easily! For instance, one glass of orange juice has 4.5 teaspoons of sugar!!! This is almost nearly your whole days worth allowance!
Here are my top 5 tips to help you effortlessly cut down on your sugar consumption!!!
1. Avoid processed food! Stick with whole foods and you wont need to worry about deciphering the labels!
2. If you are to buy packaged food, READ LABELS!!! If sugar is listed in the ingredients list of a product then it is “added sugar”. The higher up it is in the list, the more of it there is in the product. So if it is listed as 1st 2nd or 3rd the product is high in sugar.
3. FOR DAIRY PRODUCTS, anything above 5g/100g is generally added sugar (the 5g comes from the natural lactose sugar present in dairy)
4. Substitute sugar in your food/ drinks with STEVIA (a natural, safe sweetener)
5. Beware of foods that are 'low fat' as they typically contain added sugars!
Thank you for reading! I hope you are inspired to reduce your sugar consumption and continue to research and learn about how to do so! I am here to answer any questions you may have!