Too much sugar in your diet has a negative impact on your health and can lead to some pretty serious health conditions.
The statistics are shocking when it comes to the consumption of sugar. Did you know the average American consumes 17 grams of added sugar daily? This is mostly from soda, candy, cookies, or even “healthier” foods like pasta sauce and granola bars. Crazy!
All sugars aren’t created equal, too — it’s important to remember that. Let’s dig into the differences between natural sugar and added sugar.
Natural Sugar Vs. Added Sugar
Natural sugar is naturally present in foods such as fruits, vegetables and dairy products. These sugars are often accompanied by other nutrients, such as vitamins, minerals, and fiber. These are essential for good health.
For example, an apple contains natural sugars but also fiber, vitamin C, and other essential nutrients for your body.
Added sugar, on the other hand, refers to sugars that are added to foods during processing or preparation. This includes table sugar, syrups, and other sweeteners. Added sugars are often used to enhance the taste of foods and beverages. They provide no nutritional value and can contribute to weight gain and other health problems when consumed in excess.
Not to mention the chemicals and artificial ingredients that go into these added sugars are horrible for your body.
Names of added sugars:
- High fructose corn syrup
- Cane sugar
- Brown rice syrup
- Barley malt
- Ethyl maltol
Names of natural sugars:
- Pure maple syrup
- Coconut sugar
- Pure maple sugar
- Monk fruit
The main difference between natural sugar and added sugar is that natural sugars are accompanied by other nutrients, while added sugars aren’t.
It's generally recommended to limit your intake of added sugars as much as possible while still eating various fruits, vegetables, and other whole foods that contain natural sugars and other vital nutrients.
Artificial Sweeteners & Substitutes
I have to mention artificial sweeteners as well because it’s a growing trend. You’re sure to see these substitutes everywhere you go.
Artificial sweeteners are marketed as an alternative with zero calories and a way to lose weight, but the research is crystal clear. There’s nothing healthy about these food additives. In fact, they’re downright dangerous.
Names of Artificial sweeteners:
Opt for products with natural sweeteners, such as raw honey, maple syrup and coconut sugar. Avoid choosing products with artificial sweeteners or added sugars.
So what’s the problem with too much sugar in your diet?
Here are seven reasons why sugar could be ruining your health.
1. Increased Risk of Obesity
Weight gain and obesity, which are major risk factors for many chronic diseases, are more likely to become issues when eating too much sugar.
One study found that people who added more sugar to their diet gained about 1.7 pounds in less than two months.
Excess amounts of sugar can inflame fat cells, which causes them to expel chemicals that can increase your overall weight.
2. Increased Risk of Type 2 Diabetes
Consuming too much sugar can cause your body to become resistant to insulin, which can lead to type 2 diabetes.
Insulin’s responsible for the absorption of glucose (sugar) for energy. When you’re insulin resistant, you’ll experience a buildup of glucose in the blood. Over time, the body stops responding to insulin, and the sugar level in your blood stays higher, leading to diabetes.
Over time, diabetes can lead to nerve damage, vision loss, clogged veins and arteries and kidney failure.
3. Increased Risk of Heart Disease
High sugar intake can lead to high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and increased inflammation, all risk factors for heart disease.
When you consume too much sugar, the extra insulin in your bloodstream affects your arteries. It causes inflammation that stresses your heart and damages it over time. This can lead to heart disease, like heart failure and strokes.
Studies show that eating less sugar can help lower your blood pressure. Having high blood pressure is a major factor in heart disease.
4. Tooth Decay
You probably rolled your eyes at your parents when they told you candy would rot your teeth. Sorry to tell you this, but they were right! The same bacteria that cause cavities also loves to eat sugar lingering in your mouth and between your teeth after you’ve indulged in something sweet.
Too much sugar and not brushing enough can lead to tooth decay and cavities, especially if consumed in the form of sugary drinks.
5. Sugar Addiction
Sugar is crazy addictive, leading to cravings and overconsumption.
In fact, research suggests that sugar can be just as addictive as drugs like cocaine and nicotine. Consuming sugar activates the reward centers in the brain, releasing dopamine, a neurotransmitter associated with pleasure and reward.
Dopamine release creates a "high" or "rush" that can lead to those cravings and going overboard with how much you’re eating.
In addition, sugar consumption has been shown to cause changes in brain chemistry and function, which can lead to increased tolerance and dependence. Over time, people may need to consume more and more sugar to achieve the same pleasurable effects.
While sugar addiction is not recognized as a formal diagnosis in the medical community, many people report experiencing symptoms of addiction. These symptoms happened when they tried to reduce their sugar intake, such as cravings, mood swings and withdrawal symptoms.
6. Nutrient Deficiencies
Eating too much sugar is considered empty calories and can displace other nutrient-rich foods from your diet, leading to nutrient deficiencies.
These are the nutrients that suffer on a high-sugar diet:
- Vitamin D
- Vitamin C
Even worse, sugar can contribute to nutrient deficiencies in more ways. Sugar can actually deplete (or reduce) the absorption of vitamins and minerals.
7. Inflammation & Acne
Many things can lead to acne, especially high blood sugar, high insulin levels and alterations in hormones like testosterone. These health risks come from eating too much sugar.
Another side effect of inflammation is aging faster. Excess sugar attaches to proteins in your bloodstream and creates harmful molecules that age your skin. They’ve also been shown to damage collagen and elastin in your skin. Damaged collagen and elastin lead to saggy and wrinkly skin.
How to Reduce Your Sugar Intake
The best advice I could ever give you is to read the labels on your food, always be aware of the hidden ingredients and avoid processed and packaged foods.
Cut back or completely eliminate any food with added sugar. Skip the sugary drinks, sodas and desserts. If you can’t cut it out completely, try cutting down your daily consumption slowly, a little more each day, until you’re finally free of this addiction.
Here are some quick tips on reducing your sugar intake:
- Swap sweetened drinks for unsweetened seltzer or plain water
- Drink your coffee black and skip the added sugar and creamer
- Sweeten plain yogurt with honey and fruit
- Replace candy with trail mix that has a few dark chocolate chips
- Make your own granola bars
- Shop the perimeter of the grocery store
Start making small changes today, and before you know it… your sugar habit will be a thing of the past.
Daily Healthy Habits = Good Health
Good health is built regularly by consistent daily habits. Here at Elderberry Queen, we pride ourselves on only using natural sugar (honey) in our Organic Elderberry Syrup.
We also provide easy and nutritious recipes with absolutely zero added sugar.
Here are a few of my favorites:
- Mini Elderberry Cheesecakes
- No Bake Elderberry Energy Balls
- Elderberry Smoothie Bowl
- Healthy Berry Crumble
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