Let’s face the fact that sugar has a bittersweet reputation when it comes to health. Sugar is present in many fruits and vegetables and is required by your body to carry out various functions. So, how come sugar is bad for health? Let’s understand the effects of increased sugar intake.
What is Sugar?
Sugar is a simple carbohydrate that is present in various drinks and foods. Many healthy food items, such as vegetables, fruits, dairy products, contain sugar, which gives them a sweet taste.
As these foods have essential health benefits, they should be included in your diet.
But added sugar is bad for health and is equally harmful. Dietary guidelines suggest that calories from added sugars be limited to less than 10% per day. Consuming excess added sugar in drinks and foods increases the risk of weight gain, tooth cavities, and diabetes. Besides, added sugar in these food items is a poor energy source and has no nutritional value. Consuming this added sugar in excess for a long time is harmful to health.
So, without further ado, let’s understand how too much sugar is bad for health.
May Increase the Risk of Heart Disorders
High intake of added sugar results in inflammation, high cholesterol level, weight gain, and high sugar levels. All these factors result in atherosclerosis – a condition where the blood vessels are narrowed by deposition of fats. This, in turn, lowers the blood supply to your heart, causing cardiovascular disorders.
Increased intake of added sugar may increase the risk of heart disorders.
Is Linked to Type 2 Diabetes
Increased added sugar consumption can increase the risk of type 2 diabetes in various ways. However, obesity is the most substantial factor – associated with sugar intake – that increases your risk of type 2 diabetes. Furthermore, sugar intake results in resistance to insulin – a hormone that manages your blood sugar level. Insulin resistance alters the intake of glucose by your cells, increasing its level in the blood and, thus, type 2 diabetes.
A diet rich in added sugar may result in insulin resistance, which is a risk factor for type 2 diabetes.
Can Increase Your Weight
Obesity is on the rise, and sugar from sweetened beverages is one of the major causes of it. Sweetened beverages, such as juices, soda, and sweet teas, are high in fructose, which is a simple sugar.
Intake of fructose increases your desire for food more than glucose – the common type of sugar present in starchy foods.
Fructose causes resistance to leptin, a hormone that manages hunger and signals your body to stop eating.
So, sugary drinks don’t satisfy your hunger and cause you to consume more calories, resulting in weight gain. Besides, sweetened beverages increase visceral fat that is associated with heart diseases and diabetes. This added sugar is bad for health.
Increased intake of sugary drinks leads to obesity and visceral fat.
May Trigger Acne
A diet rich in refined carbs – high in sugary drinks and food – is seen to increase the risk of getting acne. High glycemic index foods increase your blood glucose level faster than those with a lower glycemic index.
Sweetened food and drinks thus cause a spike in blood sugar levels, and increases inflammation, androgen secretion, and oil production, factors that are responsible for developing acne.
Increased intake of added sugar increases androgen secretion, oil production, and inflammation, and thus trigger acne formation.
Makes You More Susceptible to Depression
High-sugar products are linked with neurotransmitter dysregulation, blood sugar swings, and inflammation, which harm mental health.
So, while a healthy diet can improve your mood, high-sugar products may increase your risk of depression.
A high-sugar diet increases the risk of depression in both women and men.
May Promote Aging of Your Cells
Telomeres are a part of chromosomes – molecules that carry all your genetic information. Telomeres are protective caps that prevent chromosomes from getting damaged. With age, your telomeres shorten that may cause your cell to function abnormally. Although this is a part of the natural aging process, an unhealthy diet may trigger this.
Consuming high levels of sugar causes your telomeres to be short, triggering cellular aging.
Can Boost the Process of Skin Aging
Similar to that of cellular aging, wrinkles are also a part of aging. However, unhealthy food habits mad speed this process.
Advanced glycation end products (AGEs) – compounds formed by reactions between sugar and protein in your body – are associated with skin aging.
A diet with high sugar intake increases the production of AGEs, which may cause your skin to age prematurely.
These AGEs hamper elastin and collagen proteins that maintain the elasticity of your skin and its youthful appearance.
AGEs damage collagen and elastin, proteins that help the skin stretch and keep their youthful appearance.
High-sugar diet triggers the production of AGEs, which increases wrinkles and causes your skin to age.
May Lead to a Fatty Liver
Increased intake of fructose can also cause fatty liver. Unlike glucose, which can be taken up by many cells, fructose can be broken down only by your liver. Here the fructose is stored as glycogen or stored as energy.
The catch is your liver can store only a limited amount of glycogen, and the excess amount is converted into fats.
Consuming excess sugar can overload your liver with fructose and thus result in a fatty liver (non-alcoholic fatty liver disease).
Sugary foods can result in NAFLD (Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease), a condition where excess fats build up in your liver.
Results in Fluctuation of Energy Levels
As we discussed before, foods rich in sugar cause a blood sugar spike, increasing your energy. However, this rise in energy is short-lasting. Food items that have high sugar content but are devoid of protein, fat, or fiber, cause blood sugar spike that is followed by a rapid drop. So, regular consumption of sugary foods may cause your energy levels to fluctuate.
High-sugar foods cause a spike in blood glucose levels, followed by a crash.
Causes Tooth Cavities
Consuming sugar triggers the formation of a thin layer of bacteria, known as plaque, on your teeth. These bacteria react with sugar present in drinks and foods, which release acid and cause teeth damage.
Your body may manage some damage by itself.
However, the continued intake of sugary foods may cause lasting damage to your teeth.
This can result in permanent holes in your teeth known as cavities.
High consumption of sugary foods may cause plaque formation and teeth cavities.
It May Alter Your Immunity
Hampered immune function is also a side effect of increased sugar intake. Yeast and bacteria thrive on sugar. High sugar intake may cause them to build up in your body and increase the risk of infections.
Excess sugar hampers your immunity, increases the risk of infections.
When you are stress, your body releases hormones that help you fight that stress. The same kind of behavior is associated with low blood glucose levels. After sugary foods or drinks, your glucose level spike, followed by a crash. Your body may release stress hormones to raise sugar levels. All this results in irritability, anxiousness, and shakiness.
Too much added sugar may result in effects that are common during stress.
While sugar from natural sources is beneficial for health, added sugar is bad for health can cause various detrimental effects. Weight gain, diabetes, and heart problems are the common results of high sugar intake.
For these reasons, too much sugar is bad for health. So, try and keep the intake of sugary foods and drinks to a minimum and consume a healthy diet.
Stay Healthy! Stay Fit!