Sugar, Its In Everything!!
The United States Department of Agriculture reports that Americans consume more than 100 pounds of sugar each year. Sugar is not just found in baked goods and coffee; it is also found in many foods consumed daily in the Standard American Diet as hidden sugar-
- BBQ sauce
- Canned fruits
- Frozen dinners
- Peanut butter
- Protein bars
- Salad dressings
- Tomato sauce
Many people do not realize that sugar can be listed in a variety of ways. Look for words ending in “ides” or “ose” can help you determine if your food contains sugars. Read the entire list of ingredients because there may be more than one type of sugar in your food. Some of the most common types of sugar include:
- Agave nectar
- Corn sweetener
- Corn syrup
- Evaporated cane juice
- High fructose corn syrup
- Rice malt
- Sorghum syrup
Sugar Is Detrimental To Health
Excess sugar consumption can cause a host of health issues. Many of these illnesses do not rear their heads for several years. When a health issue arises, most people, including health providers, do not realize that the illness could be caused by diet. Some of the common issues associated with excess sugar consumption include:
- Behavioral problems
- Degenerative diseases
- Immune disorders
- Mental illness
- Weight Issues
- Below we analyze how excess sugar affects the functioning of the body and affects your health negatively.
Sugar and Insulin Resistance
Insulin is the hormone that messages the body to direct glucose into cells where it can be used as energy. Insulin resistance occurs when the cells in the body do not respond to insulin. When this occurs, the pancreas begins to produce more insulin. Over time, the pancreas can no longer keep up with the body’s demand for insulin to direct glucose out circulation causing the amount of glucose in the blood to increase. Over time glucose maintenance is not strained and insulin resistance occurs.
Insulin resistance has been linked to a variety of diseases, including-
- Type 2 diabetes
- Kidney disease
- Cardiovascular disease
These health conditions are often referred to as metabolic syndrome as they can affect many metabolisms throughout the body leading to widespread complications.
Sugar and Obesity
In the United States, two out of three adults and one out of three children are overweight. In addition to empty calories, sugar impacts satiety, which causes an increase in appetite. If children are allowed to drink sugary beverages, their risk of obesity increases to 60 percent. Furthermore, it causes visceral fat to increase, which increases the risk of several life-threatening diseases.
Sugar and Liver Health
Fructose, a type of sugar, is metabolized by the liver over a significantly longer period of time than glucose. When fructose is digested, it is converted into glycogen and stored for future energy. Consuming fructose is not necessarily a problem if the general intake of other sugars is low.
When there is too much glycogen stored in the liver, consuming more sugar will overload the liver causing a sugar imbalance. Over time the extra amount of sugar is turned into fat, which can lead to nonalcoholic fatty liver disease along with other health problems. Luckily, the liver can heal itself when there is a reduction in sugar within the diet.
Sugar and Heart Health
Over the years, there have been some misconceptions concerning cardiovascular disease, including the foods that harm the heart. Saturated fat may not be the main culprit – sugar plays a significant role too. Consuming too much sugar is a leading cause of heart disease. When the body has too much sugar to metabolize, the high sugar in the blood increases systemic inflammation, increases bad cholesterol levels, increases abdominal obesity, increases insulin levels, and increases glucose levels. These imbalances can develop in as little as ten weeks and can lead to heart disease.
Sugar and Immune Health
Did you know that sugar can also negatively impact your immune health? Sugar reduces the effectiveness of white blood cells by 40 percent. This decreased immunity continues in the body for up to five hours after you have consumed a high sugar food like pastries.
Sugar also increases inflammation in the body. When the body becomes inflamed, it can cause a plethora of health issues, including an increased risk of developing cancer. As noted earlier, sugar imbalance leads to fluctuations in insulin levels. Insulin regulates the growth of cells within the body, including cancer cells. Sugar not only increases the risk of developing cancer but has also been shown to feed cancer cells.
Sugar and Brain Health
Sugar impairs brain function, reduces memory recall, and hinders learning. Increased sugar consumption has also been linked to many psychological issues, including anxiety and depression. With high sugar intakes, the neurotransmitters in the brain become disrupted, leading to decreased mood, fatigue, brain fog, and increased irritability.
Sugar affects the neurological pathways, resulting in sugar addiction. Addiction is characterized by the inability to abstain from a substance. Sugar addiction causes constant sugar cravings as well as lead to an array psychological problems including mood swings, irritability, and brain fog as well as physical issues like obesity, heart disease, and liver problems.
With high intake of sugar in the diet, the body releases dopamine in excess. As one consumes sugar, the dopamine receptors in the brain become less effective, leading to increased sugar cravings. This vicious cycle is very similar to the cycle that is experienced during a drug addiction.
Sweeteners to Avoid
There are many different types of sweeteners on the market. Some of the sweeteners are more dangerous than other types of sweeteners. Here are a few sweeteners that should be avoided.
- High Fructose Corn Syrup – High fructose corn syrup is found in many processed foods. This sweetener causes weight gain, fatty liver disease, and much more.
- Aspartame – Aspartame is a chemical sweetener found in a variety of diet sodas. As the body breaks down aspartame, formaldehyde is created.
- Sucralose – Sucralose is processed using chlorine. Incredibly, wastewater treatment centers cannot break down sucralose, so you can imagine how difficult it is for the body to break down this artificial sweetener!
Sweeteners to Enjoy
There are many natural sweeteners that do not cause the ill side effects as those listed above. These include:
- Stevia – Stevia comes from the stevia plant and can help improve blood sugar levels, cholesterol levels, blood pressure readings, and reduces insulin resistance.
- Coconut Sugar – Coconut sugar not only acts as a sweetener, but it also contains vitamins and minerals for improved health.
- Raw Honey – Raw honey has been used as a natural sweetener for thousands of years. Honey also offers numerous health benefits, including improved immunity, improved heart health, and reduced inflammation.
- Monk Fruit – is created by removing the seeds and skin from the fruit, crushing the fruit and collecting the juice. The fruit extract or juice has zero calories per serving.
Changing your eating habits takes a concentrated effort. Reducing the amount of white sugar in the diet is a great step at improving health is so many ways. Maintaining a healthy weight, reducing risk of chronic illnesses and diseases, and increasing energy are just a few of the changes one will notice after decreasing sugar from the diet. Our integrative practitioners and nutritionists can help you kick the sugar habit and begin your journey toward a healthier you.