Generally, sugar can be present in food sources, even natural ones. It naturally occurs in foods containing carbohydrates, such as fruits and vegetables, grains, and dairy. Recently, added sugar can be found in even the most unexpected food products. Statistics show that more than 60% of workers worldwide depend on quick, processed foods for meals and snacks. These products make up a large portion of our daily calorie intake, and they contain an unhealthy amount of added sugar. Dietary experts suggest limiting the amount of processed foods we take to at least 10%. This is because added sugar accounts for most cases of obesity and other chronic diseases like type 2 diabetes. Below are some of the effects of too much sugar on our health.
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1. Unhealthy weight gain
The cases of obesity worldwide increase every day, and added sugar remains the leading cause. Added sugar is present in most beverages we see around and in very unhealthy amounts. Sweetened drinks are misty filled with fructose, a simple and common sugar. In addition, scientifically, consuming fructose increases your hunger and desire for sweet foods. Excessive intake of fructose-filled food can cause your body to become resistant to leptin, a hormone that stops your body from feeling hungry or overeating. In simpler words, sugary foods and drinks trick your body into consuming more calories than required, leading to weight gain. In addition, most beverages containing loads of sugar contribute to the increase of visceral fat. Visceral fat builds up around the belly area associated with diabetes and several heart conditions.
2. Increased risk of heart disease
Heart diseases remain one of the leading causes of death worldwide, and one of the major causes of heart disease is sugary diets. A sugary diet is capable of causing obesity, increased blood sugar and blood pressure, inflammation, and high triglycerides. These effects of sugary diets are all risk factors of heart diseases. Let’s pretend that’s not bad enough; too much sugar causes atherosclerosis, a deadly condition characterized by the buildup of fat, cholesterol, and other substances in and on the arteries.
As we all know, the arteries are responsible for carrying oxygenated blood from the heart to tissue. So, an artery clogged up by fat and cholesterol doesn’t get the job done, leading to blood deficiency at some parts of the body. If the fat continues to build up, the artery may rupture, leading to acute occlusion of the artery by a clot. According to dietary experts and scientists, the required amount of sugar is well below the amount present in most sodas and beverages. This implies that a bottle of soda already puts you well above the required amount.
Surprisingly, excessive sugary food intake causes acne. Sugary foods quickly spike blood sugar and insulin levels, causing increased androgen secretion, oil production, and inflammation, all of which play a role in acne development.
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4. Increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes
There has always been a clear link between excess sugary food intake and diabetes. Regular intake of highly sugary foods causes insulin resistance. Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas whose purpose is to regulate blood sugar levels. Insulin resistance causes blood sugar levels to rise, which could lead to diabetes. Consuming sugary foods in excess can cause obesity, which is the strongest risk factor for diabetes.
5. Increased risk of depression
Highly sugary diets or diets containing too much sugar can increase hit chances of becoming depressed. Studies show that blood sugar swings, neurotransmitter dysregulation, and inflammation may all be reasons for sugar’s detrimental impact on mental health.
6. Accelerated skin aging process
Signs of skin aging include wrinkles. Wrinkles occur naturally, regardless of your health status. However, bad food choices can speed up the aging process, causing wrinkles to appear earlier than they should. Consuming a diet high in refined carbs and sugar leads to the production of Advanced Glycation End products, AGEs. AGEs are the resultant compounds formed from the reaction of proteins or lipids and reducing sugars (fructose). They are biomarkers of several degenerative diseases, such as diabetes, kidney disease, atherosclerosis, and Alzheimer’s disease. AGEs also cause your skin to age prematurely.
Apart from the above, other consequences of too much sugar are;
- Increased risk of cancer
- Fatty liver
- Energy drainage and fatigue
- Speeds up cellular aging
- Bad dental health
How To Minimize Sugar Intake
Too much intake has a lot of negative health effects, including those listed above. Although it is very subjective to avoid foods high in sugar, you can try to reduce your intake. Below are some methods that could help reduce your intake of sugary foods.
- Substitute soda, sweetened tea, sugary beverages for water and green tea
- Enjoy your coffee black
- Go for plain unsweetened yogurt with fresh berries for a burst of flavors
- Eat fresh fruits instead of compromised fruit juices
- Replace candies with trail mix filled with nuts and seeds
- Go for cereals with less sugar and more fiber
- Use olive oil in place of sweetened salad dressings
- Use natural nut butter
- Avoid alcoholic beverages.
The best way to minimize sugar intake is to prepare your own healthy meals at home and avoid buying supposedly healthy meals based on their claims. Rely on sugar from natural sources and not from processed foods.