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I think we all agree that sugar isn’t good for us. And yet, it is so difficult for most of us to eliminate it from our diets. We are raised consuming sugar and we die, consuming sugar. It is very much a part of the average American diet. In fact, sugar lurks in surprising places. The stuff is found in everything from cereal and drinks to spaghetti sauce and peanut butter.
I’m not going to say that you can’t have sugar. Me telling you that sugar is bad for you won’t shift you one bit. No, it’s a choice each person has to make. My desire is to share with you what sugar does to the body, and let you decide for yourself whether it’s something you want to continue to consume.
This is by no means a complete list, however, here are 8 toxic ways sugar impacts the body.
How does sugar affect the body?
Sugar increases the risk of diabetes
Consuming too much sugar, especially in sugary drinks such as soda and sweet tea, causes obesity. And obesity is the strongest risk factor for developing diabetes. Prolonged consumption of high levels of sugar leads to insulin resistance as well, causing blood sugar levels to rise. This condition is another major contributor to diabetes.
Sugar is linked to depression
A diet high in sugar can increase the chances of developing depression. Fluctuating blood sugar levels, inflammation and neurotransmitter dysregulation all have a negative impact on mental health.
Sugar causes weight gain
It’s a given that regularly consuming too much sugar puts on the pounds. But did you know that sugar actually increases your hunger? The hormone leptin regulates hunger and tells the body when to stop eating. Sugar can cause a resistance to this important hormone so that the body no longer responds to the signal that hunger is satisfied.
Additionally, those who drink a lot of sweetened drinks develop belly fat, a condition associated with diabetes and heart disease.
Sugar increases the risk of heart, liver and certain brain diseases
Heart disease is the leading cause of death. High sugar intake leads to obesity and causes inflammation, high triglycerides, high blood sugar and high blood pressure. All of these factors contribute to heart disease and atherosclerosis, which is characterized by fatty deposits in arteries.
Sugar overloads the liver, leading to potential liver damage and/or a condition known as fatty liver. Alzheimer’s and dementia are diseases that studies are connecting to high sugar consumption as well.
Skip the sugar and just eat the strawberries.
Sugar elevates the risk for cancer
Consuming high amounts of sugar may increase risks for certain types of cancer, primarily because of the inflammation that it produces. Sugar consumption has been associated with esophageal cancer, pleural cancer (the fluid filled space that surrounds the lungs), small intestinal cancer and endometrial cancer.
One study found that sugar is used by cancer cells to speed growth, enabling cancer to spread more quickly.
Sugar accelerates the skin aging process
Compounds called Advanced Glycation End Products are formed when sugar reacts with protein in the body. These compounds damage collagen and elastin, which help skin to remain elastic and youthful. As damaged skin loses its firmness it begins to sag, causing wrinkles.
Additionally, sugar increases cellular aging as well. And trust me, that’s worse than sagging skin.
Sugar causes inflammation throughout the body
Many doctors claim that inflammation is the root cause of disease in the body. A sugar laden diet causes inflammation throughout the body, and continues to feed inflammation once it develops. That inflammation affects blood vessels, organs and joints.
Sugar is addictive
In recent years some have called sugar more addictive than cocaine. A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition on how sugar impacts the body, found that it is indeed, addictive.
A high sugar drink or food causes a spike in blood sugar and insulin and an increase in hunger and cravings for about four hours after consumption. What the study showed is that a region in the brain, the pleasure center, lights up as well. The conclusion is that foods and drinks that spike blood sugar are biologically addictive.
I can believe that.
There are more than 600,000 processed foods available on the market and 80% of those have added, and often hidden, sugars. The average American consumes 22 teaspoons of sugar a day. The body can safely process about 8 teaspoons. The food industry uses sugar and high fructose corn syrup to addict us to foods. We crave them. Sweetener is used as well to make bad ingredients, like processed flours and chemicals, taste good.
Reducing Sugar Intake
If you’d like to reduce sugar consumption, try these suggestions:
- Eat more whole natural foods such as fruits and vegetables. Fruit is good for us. Don’t worry about the natural fructose found in fruits.
- Drink water and herbal teas rather than soda and sweet tea or sweetened artificially flavored drinks.
- Read labels, on everything. Sugar is hidden is so many foods. Look for it near the top of the list of ingredients. Choose sugar free foods as much as possible.
- Avoid artificial sweeteners such as aspartame. Sugar impacts the body adversely and artificial sweeteners do too.
- Make choices. Swap out sweetened cereal for gluten free oats with berries. Instead of a candy bar, have a small square of dark chocolate. Grab an apple instead of a cookie. Bake with organic maple syrup or coconut sugar instead of refined sugar. Eliminate sugary snacks from the house.
- Cravings are different from true hunger. Go for a walk or get outside instead of eating a sugary treat. Chat with a friend. Play with the kids. Meditate. Treat sugar cravings for what they are…a sign of addiction.
It is a Choice
Sugar impacts the body negatively. I knew that fact for years. And yet, I’ve dealt with sugar addiction. Sugar gave me horrible indigestion. I kept antacids on hand, rather than change my eating habits. Sugar made my joints hurt and created inflammation in my body. I accepted those ailments as part of life.
Only when I experienced radically improved health, after a 28 day cleanse, did I realize how addicted to sugar I once was. Eating fruits and veggies reset my body and cleared up so many ailments…including the indigestion. I no longer crave sugar, at all. And if I do ingest a small amount, I don’t like the way it makes me feel. That’s enough for me to leave it alone. The saying is true for me. Nothing tastes as good as healthy feels.
It takes time and it doesn’t feel easy, however you can take back control of your health and well being. You can live with vitality. Take the healing journey one step, once day, once choice at a time. If you want change strongly enough, you can create it.
I’m cheering for you.
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20 thoughts on “8 Toxic Ways Sugar Impacts the Body”
I also have this love-hate relationship with sugar. I crave for it so much and when I finally eat it, I hate myself for it. I can’t seem to get rid of it completely. I try to swap it for birch sugar whenever possible. How did you manage to eliminate those cravings?
I eliminated it completely for 28 days. Absolutely no sugar. I didn’t crave it at all after that. Now I occasionally bake using coconut sugar (it’s unprocessed) or organic maple syrup.
I think people would be completely shocked to discover everything that sugar can be found in! It’s everywhere…
Yes it is, including in some very surprising products.
Great article. I didn’t know sugar adds to the aging process. My husband and I have been trying to watch the sugar products we bring into the house.
That’s wonderful! Sugar can sneak in through so many unsuspecting products.
Love this post. Every point you mentioned is so valid and a great reminder! I do not have a sweet tooth, so do not crave for sugar treats. But like you said, looking into other foods (sauces, snacks etc.) for their sugar components is worthwhile. What are your thoughts on Stevia – that’s becoming quite popular these days. Thanks for sharing this!
Stevia is plant based so a better alternative. It can cause low blood pressure so that’s the only thing to be aware of.
What an amazing article!!! So very true too!
Thank you! 😊
Great post! I had no idea sugar could cause all these things!!! I definitely need to cut back.
It definitely has an impact on the body!
I’m definitely addicted to sugar. It’s something I need to work on.
You aren’t alone! You will when the time feels right.
I try to reduce how much I sugar I intake like putting less sugar in Koolaid. But also, in Japan, a lot of the sweets here are made with less sugar. Chocolate is different here than in the US (I cannot eat Hershey’s anymore as I get sick from the amount of sugar). I also don’t drink Coke.
Very good! Yes the US puts way too much sugar in food and drink!
I used to get headaches all the time until I stopped eating sugar (well, I only consume a small amount per day). It’s crazy what sugar can do to your body!
We just don’t realize what’s it’s doing! Glad your headaches have stopped.
I never realized how addicting sugar was until I cut it out for a few months! I was feeling (and looking!) so great, and then had one cheat meal and felt myself fall down a sugar spiral! I’m now trying to get back to no-sugar, so this was a perfect reminder to keep going!
It’s easy to fall down that sugar spiral. I have to leave the stuff totally alone for that reason. I use coconut sugar and maple syrup in baking and that helps.