Everyone knows sugar is not good for you, but few people know why other than it’s bad for our teeth. The harsh reality is that added sugar will negatively affect your health, but it can kill you indirectly as well.
Added sugar is not to be confused with natural sugar. Natural sugar is found in fruits, vegetable, grasses and even grains, and it is vital to your health. However, as the saying goes, “Too much of a good thing is a bad thing”. We evolved eating natural sugar and over hundreds of thousands of years our bodies developed to benefit from natural sugar, meaning sugar in quantities found naturally in foods. Sugar is comprised of Glucose and Fructose, one of which we need to remain healthy, the other our body needs very little of and has developed to expel any surplus of. The trouble is, our bodies developed to process only small amounts of sugar, and it is the amount added to our diet that’s literally killing those that allow it to.
1. Added Sugar Supplies Unwanted Fructose
Added sugar supplies large amounts of fructose, enough to actually damaging your liver. Sugar is half glucose and half fructose. Glucose is essential to our bodies and can be metabolized by pretty much every cell in the body. If we don’t get enough sugar in our diet, our bodies make what is needed from proteins and fat. Fructose is not essential to the functioning of our bodies, and the only organ that can metabolize fructose is the liver. When too much fructose enters a liver that’s already full of glycogen, the surplus fructose is turned into fat. The fat builds up until there’s a good chance of a non-alcoholic fatty liver disease developing.
2. Sugar Is Just Empty Calories
Sugar provides no vitamins or minerals, and very little in the way of nutrients. However, it does provide a whole lot of empty calories. People who eat high sugar content food items, such as pastries, soda pop and candy bars have a diet that contains very few essential nutrients, thus they are not only depriving their bodies of the vitamins and minerals it needs, but are loading on the empty calories that do nothing but harm.
3. Sugar Causes Aging
Of all the molecules capable of inflicting damage to your body, sugar molecules are probably the most harmful. Fructose in particular is an extremely potent pro-inflammatory agent that speeds up the aging process. It also promotes dangerous fat cell buildup around vital organs, as well as cause diabetes. All of these negative aspects of sugar contribute to more rapid aging.
4. Sugar Harms Your Cholesterol and Triglycerides
Most of the fat generated in the liver gets shipped out as Very Low Density Lipoprotein (VLDL) particles. These particles are rich in triglycerides and cholesterol. However, too much sugar in your diet and the over abundance of fructose will result in an increase in blood triglycerides, and in small, dense LDL and oxidized LDL. This is bad. As is the decreased insulin sensitivity, and increased visceral fat that is stored in the abdominal cavity.
5. Sugar Causes Insulin Resistance
The main function of insulin is to drive glucose from the bloodstream into cells. Too much sugar in our diet causes the pancreas to start secreting more insulin to remove the glucose from the bloodstream because elevated blood glucose is toxic. This additional insulin released into the bloodstream results in insulin resistance and leads to elevated insulin levels in the blood.
Insulin also triggers fat cells to pick up fat from the bloodstream, while still holding onto the fat the cells already carry. This causes obesity. As the body becomes more resistant to insulin, the beta cells in the pancreas become damaged and lose the ability to produce sufficient insulin, resulting in Type II diabetes.
6. Sugar Raises Your Risk of Disease
Excess sugar consumption has been associated with many diseases. In fact, just behind tobacco, sugar is the largest factor contributing to the decline in the health of affluent nations. Sugar causes obesity, heart disease, diabetes, and lowers resistance to other ailments and diseases.
7. Sugar Negatively Affects Satiety
An area in the brain called the Hypothalamus regulates food intake. Glucose decreases blood flow in the Hypothalamus, causing you to feel satiated. Fructose increases blood flow in the Hypothalamus, wetting the appetite. Also, fructose doesn’t reduce levels of the hormone ghrelin like glucose does. Ghrelin is a hormone that causes you to feel hungry.
8. Sugar is Addictive
When we eat sugar, dopamine is released in the brain, giving us a feeling of pleasure. This is also how drugs affect the brain as well. Your brain is hardwired to seek the release dopamine, with activities that release large amounts of dopamine especially desirable. In individuals with a predisposition towards addiction, this results in a reward-seeking behavior typical of addiction to drugs, but in this case the addition is to eating high sugar content foods.
9. Sugar Causes Resistance To Leptin
Leptin is a hormone that is secreted by our fat cells. The more fat we have, the more leptin is secreted. Leptin is supposed to signal the brain that you’re full and need to stop eating. It’s also supposed to raise your energy expenditure, thus causing your body to burn off more calories. Obese people actually have high levels of leptin, but the leptin isn’t working. This is called leptin resistance and is the reason people eat more calories than they burn and become obese. Fructose is a known cause of leptin resistance, both because insulin blocks leptin signaling to the brain and because fructose raises blood triglycerides, which also block the effects of leptin.
Other than making food taste sweet there is no advantage to having sugar added to food or beverages. In fact, there is only harm in doing so. Eliminate added sugar and you will live a healthier, longer life and look fitter and feel better.