Sugar occurs naturally in every food that contains carbohydrates. Mother Nature’s sources of sugar, such as fruits, vegetables and dairy provide the body with a great source of energy, however the problems begin when you start to consume high amounts of processed sugar i.e. sugar that has been refined and added to food in order to artificially improve its taste.
Processed sugar is one of the worst things that you can put into your body. It does many horrible things to the body. Here are just a few of them:
- It’s Addictive
Sugar in its natural state is healthy and was hard to come by for millennia. The human body adapted to this rare treat by sending dopamine into the blood stream so that people knew to make the most of it when it was available. Modern society has managed to make sugar abundantly available, however the human body has not had time to adapt to how readily available it is right now and still sends out a massive amount of dopamine whenever it is consumed. This massive amount of dopamine fries the brain’s dopamine receptors, making it so that the only way you can feel good again is by taking more and more processed sugar.
- It Sickens Your Liver
Excess sugar in your bloodstream is converted to glycogen by the liver so that it can be stored for later. If too much glycogen is stored in the body and the blood has a high level of fructose, then the liver starts to convert that excess sugar into fat which is stored primarily around the organ itself which causes non-alcoholic fatty liver syndrome. Non-alcoholic fatty liver syndrome on it own is rarely harmful however it tends to lead to diabetes.
- It Increases Your Risk of Heart Disease
Processed sugar does more damage to a person’s heart and arteries than fat and cholesterol. Studies run on lab animals showed that high amounts of sugar led to a hardening of the arteries, and increased the risk of heart failure. The compound which caused this was identified as G6P (glucose 6-phosphate) which is a byproduct of broken-down sugar. G6P accumulates in the blood of people who consume high-sugar diets and was especially dangerous to people who have high cholesterol and high blood pressure.
- It Increases Your Risk of Cancer
Insulin plays a vital role in cell growth. High levels of insulin caused by diets high in sugar are believed to have a direct role in pancreatic, breast and prostate cancer. The more sugar you consume, the more you feed the growth of those cancers.
- It Leads to Diabetes
Diabetes is the most common effect of consuming too much sugar because high levels of sugar in your diet causes your insulin to spike and stay at unsustainably high levels. After a while your body’s cells become resistant to insulin and the pancreas is forced to generate higher levels of insulin to keep the body running which results in type 2 diabetes.
- It Erodes Your Teeth
Sugar is the most common cause of cavities in your teeth. The sugar itself does not erode your teeth however failing to rinse the sugar out of your mouth creates an environment which is good for the kind of bacteria which does eat away at your enamel. Brushing your teeth will help to keep this from happening but avoiding sugar to begin with is wiser.
- It Makes you Hungry All the Time
Hunger is your body’s way of telling you that it needs energy. Sugar is a very potent form of energy for your body therefore eating small amounts of sugar-filled foods like donuts may satisfy you in the short run however since it is metabolized so fast you feel hungry again soon after and since your body is now used to sugar-laden foods, nothing else will kill the cravings for more food.
- It Makes You Fat
Sugar suppresses your satiety response and makes you crave more carbohydrate-rich foods. All of that extra carbohydrate is converted to glycogen and fat which is stored primarily around your organs and around your gut. Physical activity helps to burn it off however it takes a lot of exercise to burn off the energy from a sugar-rich diet.
How to Avoid Sugar
The standard western diet is so saturated with processed sugar that most people are addicted to added sugars and they don’t even know it. Added sugars are in everything form soft drinks, to baked goods and even yogurt and breakfast cereals. Avoiding these sugars takes conscious effort and will require you to identify if your foods have added sugars by reading the labels and looking out for many of the names that added sugar goes by as such as:
– Cane sugar
– Corn syrup
– High fructose corn syrup
The concentration of added sugar in prepackaged foods varies and you can read the label for more information but if you have to check, then you are better off avoiding it completely.
Alternatives To Added Sugar
The sugars added to prepackaged foods are processed sugars. They have been concentrated to make them as sweet as possible therefore if you want to indulge in something sweet then you should take something that is naturally sweet such as raw fruits and berries. Adding berries to plain yogurt is a good example and so is using a zero-calorie sweetener such as monk fruit, stevia or erythritol for your tea and coffee.
Freshly-squeezed fruit juice does have a lot of sugar however it is naturally occurring sugar therefore, unless you plan to drink it by the liter or are a diabetic, you shouldn’t worry about the sugar content. Sodas are filled with added sugar so they should be avoided completely. Even sugar-free and diet sodas should be avoided because recent studies have shown that the sugar-alternatives used in them are proving to be even more lethal than the sugar they replace.
Believe it or not, you can live without added sugar. Your taste buds will take a while to get used to going without it however you will be surprised at how many other tastes you will be able to enjoy once you’ve weaned yourself off of added sugar.
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