Did you know? Sugar is Killing You.
A not so fun fact: Just one 473-ml can of soda contains 52 grams of sugar, which equates to more than 10% of your daily calorie consumption, based on a 2,000-calorie diet (11). This means that one sugary drink a day can already put you over the recommended daily limit for added sugar (*4).
Ok, I don’t mean to start the article off on such a morbid note, but I thought I’m not here to lie to you, but rather to enlighten you. Sugar is one of the most common ingredients in our foods and it is, unfortunately, extremely addictive and tastes way too damn good. In fact, even those few saints who refrain from adding extra sugar in their teas and coffees are likely still consuming more sugar than they should in their diets despite being weary. Why? Because sugar is in the vast majority of the foods we eat, especially processed foods (which are generally quick, cheap and convenient to attain). So the fact of the matter is that people are consuming too much sugar (often unknowingly) and this can lead to some serious health issues.
Below are 9 Not-So-Sweet Dangers of Sugar
1. Sugar can weaken your immune system (flu, anyone)? This is because certain bacteria LOVE to feed on glucose (such as bacteria and yeast). Therefore when there is too much sugar in your system you are essentially creating the ideal breeding ground for disease.*(1)
2. Sugar accelerates the ageing process (gasp, horror)! Sugar is a major contributor to wrinkles and fine lines on the face, as well as sagging! After sugar hits your bloodstream, it attaches to proteins. The mix of these proteins with sugar causes the skin to lose elasticity and leads to premature aging.*(2)
3. Sugar can cause gum disease which can lead to heart disease (even worse)! As too much sugar can wreck absolute havoc on your gum health (especially when you don’t brush enough, hello gingivitis!). Extensive research has shown that chronic infections associated with poor dental health are connected to heart disease. A study in over 30,000 people found that those who consumed 17–21% of calories from added sugar had a 38% greater risk of dying from heart disease, compared to those consuming only 8% of calories from added sugar. Scary, right? *(3)
4. Sugar can cause tooth decay (ew, right)? I’m sure most sane people value their precious white pearls (aka their teeth) enough to not want them to rot, or even worse, fall out. So cut down on the sugar and, if you can’t do that, at the very least make sure you floss and brush your teeth daily so it doesn’t sit on your teeth.
5. Sugar Increases Stress. Yes, you read this correctly. Sugar can lead to some serious highs and lows that wreak havoc with your body. After eating large amounts of sugar (happens to the best of us), your body releases insulin to help absorb the excess glucose in the bloodstream and stabilize blood sugar levels. Essentially this is a good thing, but not exactly. Let me explain: A sugar rush makes your body work overtime to get back to normal levels. The side effects of this can include dizziness, nausea and sluggishness. If you suffer from anxiety, it may certainly make things a lot worse. There have been studies on rats and mice that have linked increased sugar intake to higher anxiety, but scientists would like to do more research on this.
6. Too much sugar inevitably results in weight gain and even obesity. This one shouldn’t come across as too much of a shocker, but it’s important to note. Obesity is a growing epidemic in South Africa, especially in children which is even more of a concern. In fact, If obesity in South African children continues to increase at the current rate, 3.91 million school children will be overweight or obese by 2025. I mean, chubby kids are cute and everything but this is too much. Obesity is not, in fact, a laughing matter and has several severe implications on their mental and physical health.
7. Too much sugar can cause a condition called Hypoglycemia. Plain and simply put, this is a condition where there is not enough glucose in the bloodstream. One of the main reasons Hypoglycemia raises its ugly head is as a result of Diabetes. ironically, this condition is actually caused by consuming too much sugar in the first place.
8. A high sugar diet can result in Chromium deficiency. Chromium deficiency, in case you were wondering, is when your body is lacking a metallic mineral that aids in weight loss and glucose control (two very important factors). So if you are short on this mineral you may find those unwelcome kilos slowly piling on. But do not despair, there are natural supplements out there that contain some of these essential vitamins and minerals designed to combat weight loss due to certain deficiencies.
9. Sugar affects cognition in children. Yes, you heard me right! Too much sugar consumption in children could be making them stupid. A research study conducted at the University of Southern California found a disturbing connection between memory and sugary drinks. The study also found that increased sugar intake interferes with the ability of the brain to function properly, or even remember the smallest of details about one’s environment when consumed before adulthood. A study on rats at UCLA in 2012 found that increased sugar intake resulted in the rats having damaged synaptic activity, meaning communication between the brain cells was impaired. So essentially, increased sugar levels tend to increase resistance to insulin, a hormone which is vital for brain functioning through blood sugar control (6).
The bottom line is that too much of ANYTHING can be really bad for you. Heck, you can even overdose on water! (I’m not kidding). But on a serious note, sugar is definitely one of those things that you should pay extra careful attention to. Fortunately (thank God for technology) there are actually tonnes of sugar-free products and replacements available out there so if you still a slave to the sugar, there is hope. If you aren’t too excited about sweeteners such as Xylitol (it can get a bit pricey), you can even substitute honey with your tea and coffee, not only does it taste really incredible but it is also much healthier for you. If you are still battling to kick sugar to the curb and the cravings are out of hand, then you may want to consider a natural appetite suppressant to make the journey a lot smoother! If that sounds like something that could benefit you, feel free to check out CheetaThin here!
- Nutter, R.L., Gridley, D.S., Kettering, J.D., et al., “Modification of a transplantable colon tumor and immune responses in mice fed different sources of protein, fat and carbohydrate." Cancer Letters, 18(1), 1983, pages 49-62.
- Sensi, M., Pricci, F., Andreani, D., et al., “Advanced Nonenzymatic Glycation Endproducts (AGE): Their Relevance to Aging and the Pathogenesis of Late Diabetic Complications." Diabetes Research, 16(1), 1991, pages 1-9.
- Geerts, S.O., Legrand, V., Charpentier, J., et al. “Further evidence of the association between periodontal conditions and coronary artery disease." Journal of Periodontology, 75(9), 2004, pages 1274-80.
- Chepulis, L., Starkey, N., Waas, J. and Molan, P. (2009). The effects of long-term honey, sucrose or sugar-free diets on memory and anxiety in rats. Physiology & Behavior, 97(3-4), pp.359-368.