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;
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
Yoghurt is a healthy food, but many brands add sugar to make it taste sweeter.
A single serving of sweetened yoghurt can contain up to 27 grams of sugar – that’s more than six teaspoons!
When choosing yoghurt, opt for a plain, unsweetened variety or one that’s sweetened with fruit.
Granola is often marketed as healthy food, but many brands add sugar and other unhealthy ingredients.
A single serving of granola can contain up to 16 grams of sugar – that’s four teaspoons!
When choosing granola, look for a brand that doesn’t have any added sugar or other unhealthy ingredients.
Alternatives to sugar that won’t wreck your health
If you’re looking for a healthier alternative to sugar, there are plenty of options available. Here are a few ideas:
Honey is a natural sweetener that contains vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.It’s also been shown to have health benefits, such as reducing inflammation and boosting immunity.
- Maple syrup
Maple syrup is another natural sweetener that’s high in vitamins and minerals. It contains antioxidants and has been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties.
Stevia is a plant-based sweetener that’s calorie-free and doesn’t raise blood sugar levels. It’s a good option for people with diabetes or those who are trying to lose weight.
Dates are a type of fruit that’s naturally sweet and high in nutrients. They’re a good source of fibre, potassium, and magnesium, and they can be used to sweeten recipes without adding any extra calories.
How to cut out processed sugars from your diet gradually
Cutting out processed sugars from your diet can be a challenge, but it’s worth it for your health. Here are a few tips to help you get started:
- Read labels
When you’re grocery shopping, take the time to read the labels on food products. You’d be surprised how many foods contain added sugar.
- Limit sugary drinks
As mentioned above, sugary drinks are one of the worst sources of sugar. If you’re going to drink juice, opt for 100% fruit juice with no added sugar.
- Choose whole foods
Whenever possible, choose whole foods over processed foods. Whole foods, such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, are naturally low in sugar.
- Cook at home
When you cook at home, you have more control over the ingredients that go into your food. This means you can avoid adding sugar to your recipes.
- Find healthier alternatives
If you’re craving something sweet, try a healthier alternative, such as fruit, dark chocolate, or honey.
So, yes, sugar is bad for us – but it’s not the only thing that’s bad for our health. A diet high in sugar can be damaging to our health, but so can a diet high in saturated fat, trans fat, or sodium. The key is to eat a balanced diet that includes all the major food groups in moderation.
By making small changes, you can gradually cut out processed sugars from your diet and improve your overall health.