We all know that too much sugar isn’t good for us, but is it really as bad as we think? Let’s take a closer look at the science behind sugar to see if it really is as harmful as we believe.
Sugar is a carbohydrate that our bodies use for energy. It’s found in a variety of foods, including fruit, honey, and processed foods. Our bodies break down sugar into glucose, which is then used by our cells for energy.
If you consume excess sugar, it is converted to and stored as fat. This can lead to weight gain and an increased risk for obesity, type 2 diabetes, and other chronic health conditions.
While it’s not the healthiest food out there, it’s also not as harmful if you consume it in moderation.
The effects of sugar on the body
While it’s important to limit our sugar intake, we also need to be aware of the effects of sugar on our health. Below are some of the potential effects of consuming too much sugar;
1. Chronic illnesses
Excess sugar consumption has been linked to a long list of health problems, including obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, cancer, tooth decay, and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.
Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the world, and sugar consumption has been linked to an increased risk of heart disease as it promotes inflammation and raises triglyceride levels, both of which are risk factors for heart disease.
Excess sugar consumption has also been linked to an increased risk of cancer as it promotes the growth of cancer cells.
Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is a condition in which fat accumulates in the liver. Sugar consumption has also been linked to an increased risk of NAFLD, as it promotes the accumulation of fat in the liver.
2. Weight gain
Sugar is addictive as research has shown that it activates the reward centre in our brains, making us crave more sugary foods. This can lead to a vicious cycle of overeating and weight gain.
This can lead to obesity, which increases your risk of developing type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and other chronic health conditions.
3. Insulin Resistance
Eating too much sugar can also cause your blood sugar levels to spike. This can lead to insulin resistance, which is a major factor in the development of type 2 diabetes, a condition that affects millions of people around the world.
4. Tooth Decay
Tooth decay is another common problem caused by sugar. When you eat sugary foods, the bacteria in your mouth convert the sugar into acid, which attacks the enamel of your teeth and can lead to cavities.
How much sugar is too much sugar?
So, there’s no question that sugar can be bad for your health. But how much is too much?
The World Health Organization recommends that we limit our sugar intake to no more than 10% of our daily caloric intake. For someone eating 2,000 calories per day, that would be 50 grams, or about 12.5 teaspoons, of sugar.
Too much sugar can be detrimental to your health, but you don’t need to avoid it altogether.
You can limit your sugar intake by avoiding sugary drinks, eating more whole foods , and checking food labels for added sugar.
By limiting your intake and making wise choices, you can enjoy the sweet things in life without putting your health at risk.
Sources of hidden sugars in your diet
1. Fruit juices
Even though fruit juices may contain some vitamins and minerals, they’re also full of sugar. A small glass of orange juice, for example, contains around 24 grams of sugar – that’s more than four teaspoons!
If you’re going to drink juice, make sure it’s 100% fruit juice with no added sugar.
2. Sports drinks
Sports drinks are often marketed as being healthy, but they’re actually full of sugar. A typical sports drink contains around 14 grams of sugar, which is equivalent to three teaspoons.
Consider rehydrating with water instead of a sports drink after a workout.
Soda is one of the worst offenders when it comes to sugar. A can of Coke, for example, contains 39 grams of sugar – that’s almost 10 teaspoons!
If you’re looking for a healthier alternative to soda, try diet soda or unsweetened tea or coffee.