Updated: Jun 2, 2021
Sugar sugar sugar!!
This day-in-age sugar is added to EVERYTHING!! Why? Because our brains instinctively like it....and make us want to eat more. Sugar is added to everything....this includes sauces, condiments, dressings, drinks. Has anyone else noticed that when you've been eating more sugar, it seems like you want to keep eating more? And more? And more? This is because sugar is addictive! I'm going to address why sugar is so addictive and why we should be conscientious of how much we consume.
Why are sweet things addictive? And why has is gotten worse over time?
This day-in-age, so many foods are made with fructose in place of glucose. Fructose is less expensive than glucose, so it's now a staple that's used in most sugary, processed foods and drinks. People consume a lot more fructose now than they used to because it much less expensive to use high-fructose corn syrup in the foods we eat. The downside of this is that fructose has been shown in studies to have different effects on the brain, affecting both appetite and metabolism.
After consuming glucose, the brain and body can recognize and respond to the extra calories much better than it dose with fructose. With glucose, the body responds by pumping out insulin, which then blunts hunger. The brain activity also slows in the hypothalamus, the region that stimulates appetite. However, after ingesting fructose, the hypothalamus continues to stay active, meaning appetite isn't satisfied and hunger remains. Fructose has been shown to only produce a tiny increase in insulin, meaning the sugar is kept in the bloodstream and people will actually feel hungrier than they started.
Risks of too much sugar:
A high sugar diet is almost ALWAYS a high calorie diet. It is very hard to get adequate protein etc, on a high sugar diet. Weight gain = eating more calories than you burn. It is very easy to eat a lot of calories when you eat a lot of sugar because sugar is calorie packed and it doesn't “fill you up”. Furthermore, eating sugar promotes the desire to eat MORE sugar....it is addictive! Sugar can cause leptin resistance....leptin is the hormone our body secretes that tells us we are full. So a high sugar diet destroys your body's ability to tell itself to stop eating.
Risk of heart disease
Studies have shown that people who consume 17-20% of their calories from sugar have a 38% increase in heart disease. A large percentage of people who die from heart disease or cancer are not overweight. But sugar consumption could have played a part in this!
Acne and Accelerated Skin Aging
In a study of 2300 teens, those who consumed a considerable amount of added sugar had a 30% greater risk of developing acne. Reducing added sugar consumption and heavily processed food consumption has actually been shown to help skin to clear up. Furthermore, sugar can accelerate skin aging. Sugar reacts with proteins in the body that form reactions that speed up skin aging. Studies have shown that women who have a high sugar/carbohydrate diet have more wrinkled skin than those with a low sugar/high protein diet.
Microbiome and Autoimmune Diseases
The consumption of foods like sugar feed bacteria that causes tooth decay, as well as bacteria in your gut. More sugar can lead to an overgrowth of bad bacteria in the gut. This has also been linked to increase flareups of some autoimmune diseases like psoriasis, Chron's disease, ulcerative colitis, lupus, etc. Almost any functional medicine doctor will tell you to reduce your sugar consumption to help ward off flare ups for any of these diseases.
Type 2 Diabetes
This is an obvious one. Too much sugar over time changes the way your body uses and responds to insulin....leading to type 2 diabetes.
This day-in-age, 1 out of every 3 people die from cancer. It has been shown that there is a clear correlation between lifestyle and cancer. In fact it has been estimated that about 72% of cancers can be prevented by lifestyle, good diet, and by not being obese. Sugar is directly linked to many cancers because cancer cells are “hungry” cells that burn a lot of energy. Consequently, cancer cells like sugar. If you deplete cancer cells of sugar – many times they will die. Sugar is basically like high-octane fuel for cancer cells.
Energy swings and mood
Sugar causes energy crashes due to blood glucose spikes and dips. Just watch how your kids behave after eating a ginormous cupcake! First, they are hyper and off the wall, followed by being irritable. This is how it affects us as adults too! ADHD, depression, and anxiety have all found correlations to having a high sugar diet. Eliminating sugar has shown to be effective in helping each of these diseases in many patients.
How to eat sugar properly:
Sugar does not have to be completely avoided, but I urge you to become more conscientious of the sugar you are eating. Treat sugar as a treat. When you have it, enjoy it, but also realize that it's not good for you and you may not feel the best after it. You don't have to completely take sugar out of your diet, but don't have it part of every meal. Just like you wouldn't drink a beer or a glass of wine with every single meal, sugar shouldn't be a regular thing you feed yourself all day everyday. Make it something you enjoy and have it as a treat. Like anything in life....it's all about moderation and balance!!