Unfortunately it really is that bad.
Chances are you already know that eating too much sugar isn’t good for you. Yet you’re probably still overdoing it: Americans average about 20 tablespoons of added sugars per day, compared to the recommended 6 tablespoons for women and 9 tablespoons for men. (That doesn't include sugar found naturally in foods like fruits and milk.)
Sugar is highly addictive
Do you have a sweet tooth? There are several possible reasons we crave sweet foods. Did you know that sugar and processed foods may be as addictive as heroin or cocaine? In a 2013 study from Connecticut College, researchers confirmed that Oreos could be as addictive as cocaine, after observing how the popular cookie affected lab rats' behavior and brains.1 Eating sugar artificially stimulates a region of your brain called the nucleus acumbens to produce dopamine, the pleasure neurotransmitter. Soon, dopamine levels drop, and we start to feel “flat”... or a bit “down." We crave this pleasant, feel-good feeling again — so sugar leads to addiction.
There seems to be some evolutionary benefits to sweet foods, so there is some good reason why we are wired this way. Fruits being sweet and pleasant to eat indicated to our ancestors that they were safe to eat. In addition, they provided the necessary energy and fat storage needed for hunting – yes there were times when storing extra fat was necessary for survival. There’s much more to it than that of course, so if you’re interested, here’s an interesting article you might enjoy: http://www.businessinsider.com/evolutionary-reason-we-love-sugar-2014-4
Sadly, somewhere along the line, things changed. Not only do we no longer have to hunt for food but the sugar producers have managed to refine the sugar, stripping it of all nutrients and fiber in the process. Sure, some people do hunt for food, but it’s unlikely they walk nearly as far or for as long and certainly they don’t do it without a cooler full of handy snacks and drinks.
Increased Incidence of Obesity and related health risks
The latest World Health Organization data indicates that 1.9 billion people worldwide are overweight, with 600 million considered obese. Sugar, in the form of processed, high-in-sugar foods is largely to blame.
A recent project, headed by Dr Kimber Stanhope, put healthy young adults in their 20s on a highly controlled sugary diet for 10 weeks and then measured the effects of that added sugar. Stanhope's study showed that when subjects took an increased dose of sugar intake, the risk factors for cardiovascular disease also increased. The fat-burning process in the liver is impaired because the organ has been overloaded with sugar fructose. Much of the fat in the stomach area lies directly under the skin. This is called subcutaneous fat and is not necessarily hazardous to your health. The fat that is harmful is the unseen fat around your organs, otherwise known are visceral abdominal fat. Stanhope’s study also found that the patients on the fructose diets "end up actually forming more visceral fat than subcutaneous fat so that's important to the study.” says McGahan. "We think of fat as fat, but actually in this study, fat isn't all the same... there's a big difference between the effects of where our fat is stored and our health."
Toxic to the liver
There is growing scientific consensus that one of the most common types of sugar, fructose, can be toxic to the liver, just like alcohol.2,3 Fructose is the sugar that makes fruit taste sweet. There’s nothing wrong with eating fructose in its natural state, in fruit, but it’s not recommended to drink a lot of fruit juice as the sugar is concentrated and has a lot less fiber than the full fruit would have.
Getting frequent, high doses of fructose throughout the day, without fiber to slow it down, is more than our bodies were designed to handle. When we consume large amounts of fructose in added sugar, particularly in liquid form on an empty stomach, it slams the liver with more than it can handle.
Major risk for heart disease
In 2013, University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston researchers discovered that eating too much sugar can stress the heart and open the door to heart failure by affecting its ability to pump.4 Research also suggests that eating less sugar can help lower blood pressure, a major risk factor for heart disease. Plus, people who eat a lot of added sugar (where at least 25% of their calories comes from added sugar) are twice as likely to die of heart disease as those whose diets include less than 10% of total calories from added sugar.
Inhibits Muscle Growth
This sugar overload can be notoriously problematic for the exerciser, the athlete, and the bodybuilder, all related to muscle growth. Sugar causes an insulin surge in the body that suppresses two important hormone groups: growth hormones and glucagons.5 The body relies on these hormones to burn fat and support muscle development. When sugar takes over and insulin spikes, muscle building falls by the wayside.
Sugar has been shown to feed cancer cells and has been connected to breast, ovary, prostate, rectum, lung, gallbladder and stomach cancers.
Increased risk of type 2 diabetes
When you eat, your pancreas pumps out insulin, but if you’re eating too much sugar and your body stops responding properly to insulin your pancreas starts pumping out even more insulin. Eventually your overworked pancreas will be unable to keep up with the demand and your blood sugar levels will rise, setting you up for type 2 diabetes.
If you have diabetes, too much sugar can lead to kidney damage. The kidneys play an important role in filtering your blood sugar. Once blood sugar levels reach a certain amount, the kidneys start to let excess sugar into your urine. If left uncontrolled, diabetes can damage the kidneys, which prevents them from doing their job in filtering out waste in your blood. This can lead to kidney failure.
Increased Risk of Depression
The occasional candy or cookie can give you a quick burst of energy (or “sugar high”) by raising your blood sugar levels fast. When your levels drop as your cells absorb the sugar, you may feel jittery and anxious (a.k.a. the dreaded “sugar crash”). But if you’re reaching into the candy jar too often, sugar starts to have an effect on your mood beyond that 3 p.m. slump: Studies have linked a high sugar intake to a greater risk of depression in adults.
Sugar can interfere with the absorption of protein, cause gastrointestinal concerns such as increased risk of Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, indigestion, acidic digestive tracts, and can cause food allergies.
You probably rolled your eyes at age 12, but your mother was right: Candy can rot your teeth. The bacteria in your mouth love to eat sugar lingering in your mouth after you eat something sweet and along with it they consume small amounts of your teeth, which over time results in cavities! If you want to see less of your dentist, best skip the sweets.
If you have joint pain, here’s more reason to lay off the candy: Eating lots of sweets has been shown to worsen joint pain because of the inflammation they cause in the body. Plus studies show that sugar consumption can increase your risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis.
Another side effect of inflammation: It may make your skin age faster. Sugar attaches to proteins in your bloodstream and creates harmful molecules called “AGEs,” or advanced glycation end products. These molecules do exactly what they sound like they do: age your skin. They have been shown to damage collagen and elastin in your skin -- protein fibers that keep your skin firm and youthful. The result - Wrinkles and saggy skin.
Okay I’m Hooked on Sugar. What can I do to kick this? I have no WILL POWER!
Sadly, we’ve been told for far too long that indulging in sweets is connected with a lack of self-will or some other character flaw. This is just not true! Craving sugar is not simply about willpower, nor is it simply about emotions. As I’ve mentioned before there are reasons why we crave sweets, but it is possible to reduce your cravings and decrease your sugar ingestion. I’ve looked through several articles for a variety of tips and rather than list them, I’m including a link to another interesting site that delves deep into the whys and hows and has some great advice on how to cut down on your sugar.
Check it out here: