A bit about sugar
Educating yourself about sugar can seem like a big task. That’s because there are lots of different types of sugars and they all react differently within our bodies.
Glucose, for example, is absorbed and used up as energy quite quickly. Table sugar (aka sucrose) is half glucose, half fructose and it’s the fructose in those little white granules that does the most damage. This is because the body can’t detect it. It isn’t metabolised and it doesn’t impact on our appetite. In other words, we can eat mountains of it and never get full.
This is where the problem lies. It’s why it’s so easy for us to eat too much – not just too much sugar, but too much of a huge range of foods and drinks containing added sugars. These added (and often hidden) sugars make it hard for us to truly know how much sugar we’re eating each day and whether how much we’re eating is ‘too much’.
11 reasons why too much sugar is even bad for you:
- Sugar could be making diabetes more common
- Excess sugar consumption can cause fatty liver disease
- Sugar = empty calories
- It saps your energy
- Sugar negatively impacts your brain power
- It affects your mental wellbeing
- It makes you gain weight
- Excess sugar intake has been linked to heart disease
- Sugar can ramp up your inflammatory response
- It hampers your muscle building
- It means more trips to the dentist
1. Sugar could be making diabetes more common
As mentioned above, one of the biggest issues with sugar is not being able to easily understand how much of it we’re consuming. The increased volume of added sugars in our diet has been linked to obesity. This is because we’re not satisfied by what we’re eating (thanks to those hidden sugars) and, therefore, we eat more than we need.
Obesity is a risk factor for type 2 diabetes and there is research to suggest a correlation between sugar consumption and diabetes rates. More study is definitely needed, but the results out there already are enough to suggest that too much sugar is bad for you.
2. Excess sugar consumption can cause fatty liver disease
Lots of pre-packaged foods and soft drinks contain high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS). High-fructose corn syrup is a sweetener made from corn and has a fructose concentration of between 55-90 per cent (remember, that troublesome sugar that we spoke about earlier?). In comparison, apples have just 5-10 per cent fructose (plus fibre, vitamins and minerals).
Scientists have found a direct link between the increased consumption of HCFS and metabolic syndrome. Metabolic syndrome increases the risk of diabetes, heart disease and stroke, and is the strongest precursor to fatty liver disease – stronger even than eating a high-fat diet.
3. Sugar = empty calories
Processed, packaged food and drinks are high in added sugars, so they’re high in calories. Along with those high sugar levels, their nutritional value is low to non-existent. Could you imagine eating a half kilo of broccoli versus a half kilo of ice cream? You’d get full pretty quickly sitting down to the broccoli. But the ice cream? Not so much.
That’s because essential nutrients and fibre get stripped out during production. Nutritionists call the result ‘empty’ calories, because you get a ton of calories without any nutrients. What a scam!
When life gets busy, it’s easy to grab a packaged meal or processed snack. But going high-sugar / low-nutrition will rob your body of essential minerals and lead to those sugar highs and lows we mentioned earlier. Speaking of which…
7. It makes you gain weight
The recommended limit of 6 teaspoons of sugar a day can add up quickly. Many packaged and processed foods are so loaded with sugar that there’s hardly any room for goodness. And of course, all that sugar can quickly lead to weight gain.
Does sugar lead to obesity?
Too much sweet stuff is one of the top reasons that over two-thirds of Brits are overweight or obese. Scary stuff.
Experts have particularly called out excessive amounts of unhealthy food and sugary drinks in causing weight gain.
Plenty of studies show that sugar is one of the chief culprits in our obesity epidemic. It also increases the risk of serious health problems like high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, heart disease and some cancers.
8. Excess sugar intake has been linked to heart disease
Your heart is incredible. It beats around 108,000 times a day, keeping your blood pumping from head to toe.
And you need to take care of it, so it can take care of you.
Heart disease kicks in when plaque – the result of too much bad cholesterol – builds up in the arteries. That makes it hard work to get blood from the heart to the body! The good news is that healthy levels of good cholesterol help to keep the bad cholesterol in check. The bad news is that eating lots of sugar lowers good cholesterol levels.
As a result, the risk of heart disease increases. Experts now see sugar and excessive saturated fat as partners in crime when it comes to increasing bad cholesterol levels. (Plus, we talked about excess weight above, and fat around the tum may put people at higher risk of developing heart disease.)
The best way to beat these guys is simply to eat a healthy, wholefood, low-sugar diet.
9. Sugar can ramp up your inflammatory response
Your ‘inflammatory response’ is your body’s way of repairing damage of any kind. If you’re injured or have an infection, your immune system sets to work to kill off any nasties and create a safe healing area.
Can sugar cause pain and inflammation?
Sugar compromises your immune system and ramps up its inflammatory response. When it does, you’re much more likely to feel the effects of that inflammation as pain.
And it shouldn’t come as a surprise that eating a diet full of veggies, fruits and whole grains can go a long way to keeping your body happy and pain-free.
10. It hampers your muscle building
Muscle growth requires energy. It also requires protein, as part of a healthy, balanced diet.
If you’re super-active or love the gym, a little sugar can give you the short-term energy you need to fuel your muscles and keep your brain active. But most of us don’t do nearly enough exercise to justify the amount of sugar we eat and drink.
If you really want to build muscle, any excess sugar consumption will only hamper your efforts as it’s likely to leave you with joint pain, stiffness and tension.
11. It means more trips to the dentist
Finally, sugar’s impact on your pearly whites is well-known. Toothache, tooth decay, pain and gum disease are all results of a sweet tooth.
That’s because bacteria in your mouth feed on the sugars you eat. They create an acid that eats away at your tooth enamel. And once that weakens, you’re more likely to get tooth decay.
Good dental hygiene is a non-negotiable if you want a solid set of teeth. Brushing your teeth at least twice a day will go a long way to a healthy mouth. So will avoiding sugar.
It’s time to ditch the sugar
Do you feel like you’re addicted to the sweetness of sugar? Is it time you put the sweet stuff on notice?
Whether you like just a little sweetness or have a raging sweet tooth, you’re probably eating far more sugar than you think
Remember: WHO recommends no more than 6 teaspoons of sugar a day. When you think about how much sugar hides in everyday foods like bread, soup, sauces and more, (not just the obvious lollies and cakes), it quickly adds up..