10 ways sugar harms your health

How could something so sweet leave such a sour mark on your health? If you've ever wondered why sugar is bad for you, get ready to be shocked.

Sugar and blood

Unstable blood sugar often leads to mood swings, fatigue, headaches and cravings for more sugar. Cravings set the stage for a cycle of addiction in which every new hit of sugar makes you feel better temporarily but, a few hours later, results in more cravings and hunger. On the flip side, those who avoid sugar often report having little or no cravings for sugary things and feeling emotionally balanced and energised.

Sugar, health and weight

Large-scale studies have shown that the more high-glycaemic (Gi) index foods a person consumes (those that quickly affect blood sugar), including foods containing sugar, the higher their risk for becoming obese and for developing Type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Emerging research is also suggesting connections between high Gi diets and many different forms of cancer.

Sugar and immunity

Research on human subjects is scant, but animal studies have shown that sugar suppresses immune response. More research is needed to understand the exact mechanisms; however, we do know that bacteria and yeast feed on sugar and that, when these organisms get out of balance in the body, infections and illness are more likely.

Sugar and deficiencies

It’s sort of a catch-22. If you consume a lot of sugar and other refined carbohydrates, you probably don’t get enough of the trace mineral chromium, and one of chromiums main functions is to help regulate blood sugar. According to scientists, most of us don’t get enough chromium in our diets. Chromium is found in a variety of animal foods, seafood and plant foods. Refining starches and other carbohydrates rob these foods of their chromium supplies so think wholegrain!

Sugar and ageing

It even contributes to that telltale sign of ageing: sagging skin. Probably another reason ever-young celebrities like Yasmin LeBon steer clear of the sweet stuff. Some of the sugar you consume, after hitting your bloodstream, ends up attaching itself to proteins, in a process called glycation. These new molecular structures contribute to the loss of elasticity found in aging body tissues, from your skin to your organs and arteries. The more sugar circulating in your blood, the faster this damage takes hold.

Sugar and tooth decay.

With all the other life-threatening effects of sugar, we sometimes forget the most basic damage it does. When it sits on your teeth, it creates decay more efficiently than any other food substance, and all the money in the world can’t reverse this process. For a strong visual reminder, next time the Tooth Fairy visits, try the old tooth-in-a-glass-of-Coke experiment—the results will surely convince you that sugar isn’t good for your pearly whites.

Sugar and complications

Increasing evidence shows that chronic infections, such as those that result from periodontal problems, play a role in the development of coronary artery disease. The most popular theory is that the connection is related to widespread effects from the body’s inflammatory response to infection.

Sugar and the brain

It is believed that one trigger of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) may be consumption of sugar, and many children with ADHD crave high Gi foods, which leads to hypoglycaemia. All high Gi foods cause a rapid rise in blood sugar levels, which causes a temporary surge of energy and at the same time, hyperactivity. Soon after this energy surge comes a dip in energy, with the end result being hypoglycaemia.

This will inevitably lead to irritability, poor sleeping habits and lack of concentration. In light of this, if low Gi foods are eaten most of the time, especially for breakfast, blood sugar and energy levels remain stable, and this enables the child to concentrate better and stabilise their emotions.

Sugar and stress

When we’re under stress, our stress hormone levels rise. These chemicals are the body’s fight-or-flight emergency crew, sent out to prepare the body for an attack or an escape. These chemicals are also called into action when blood sugar is low.

For example, after a blood-sugar spike (say, from eating a piece of birthday cake), there’s a compensatory dive, which causes the body to release stress hormones such as adrenaline, epinephrine and cortisol. One of the main things these hormones do is raise blood sugar, providing the body with a quick energy boost. The problem is, these helpful hormones can make us feel anxious, irritable and shaky.

Sugar and malnutrition

According to nutrition scientists, research has shown that people who consume the most sugar have the lowest intakes of essential nutrients –– especially vitamin A, vitamin C, folate, vitamin B-12, calcium, phosphorous, magnesium and iron. Ironically, those who consume the most sugar are children and teenagers, the individuals who need these nutrients most.

Time to slash

Now that you know the negative impacts refined sugar can have on your body and mind, you’ll want to be more careful about the foods you choose. And the first step is getting educated about where sugar lurks. Believe it or not, a food needn’t even taste all that sweet for it to be loaded with sugar.

When it comes to convenience and packaged foods, let the ingredients label be your guide, and be aware that just because something boasts that it is low in carbs or a "diet" food, doesn’t mean it’s free of sugar.

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Thanks to tescodiets.com who have provided this article.