20 Side effects of sugar you need to know about
It is true that we do need sugar in our diet, it gives us energy, but we could actually drop eating refined sugar, so long as we are eating plenty of vegetables, fruit and dairy products, which will also provide us with the carbohydrates that our body needs. Sugar gives us an instant boost to our energy levels, but it is far healthier to eat foods that will provide a slow release of energy to avoid creating damaging spikes in our blood sugar levels. Just about everybody in the developed world is eating far too much refined sugar and here are twenty reasons why you shouldn’t be:
1. Too much sugar can cause cancer
Side effects of sugar are numerous. Many studies have shown that people who eat too much sugar are at a far higher risk of developing cancer, than those who don’t. The effect that sugar has on your metabolism and your insulin levels has been proven to have a direct impact on your likelihood to develop cancer.
2. It doesn’t contain any minerals or vitamins
Sugar is just ’empty’ calories and contains no minerals or vitamins whatsoever, so, if you fill yourself up with sugary treats, you are likely become deficient in some essential nutrients that your body needs to function properly.
3. It is addictive
Another one of the dangerous side effects of sugar is that it is addictive. The term chocoholic is not just a joke. When you consume large amounts of sugar, your body releases the feel good hormone, dopamine, and you can become addicted to the sugar high that this causes.
4. It promotes belly fat
Sugar specifically promotes the development of belly fat. In a 2010 study of children, it was found that excessive intakes of sugar caused the visceral fat cells to mature faster, which can lead to the development of a large belly and, ultimately, heart problems.
5. Sugar has a similar effect on your liver, as alcohol
Side effects of sugar don’t stop there. Excess sugar increases the risk of developing the same diseases of the liver that drinking too much alcohol can cause. Too much sugar can have the same toxic effects on your body as ethanol does.
6. It increases the risk of heart failure
There is a compound in sugar, metabolite glucose 6-phosphate (G6P), that can directly affect the muscle protein in your heart, which affects its ability to pump blood efficiently. These changes in the heart muscles could eventually lead to heart failure.
7. Sugar addiction can be genetic
It would paper that an addiction to sugar can be genetic. A study found that that genetic change to the hormone ghrelin, which controls your hunger, can lead to an increased desire for sugar and alcohol.
8. It raises cholesterol levels
Another one of the side effects of sugar that you need to know about is that, even though it contains no fat, sugar is responsible for raising the level of cholesterol in your blood, which can lead to heart disease. More recent studies suggest that sugar is more to blame for high cholesterol, than eating too much fat.
9. It’s bad for your teeth
This side effect of sugar is pretty obvious. We are all taught that sugar rots your teeth, but do you know why? Sugar is bad for the teeth, because it provides easily digestible energy for the bacteria in your mouth and so, they multiply faster and attack your teeth.
10. It causes fat deposits in the liver
When you eat too much sugar, the liver turns the excess sugar into fat, and over time, this fat can build up in the liver and cause fatty liver disease.
12. Sugar can adversely affect your memory
There is evidence that excessive sugar can have a negative impact on the way that your brain works. A 2012 study demonstrated a link between sugar consumption and deficiencies in memory and overall cognitive health.
13. It can cause premature ageing
Side effects of sugar also include premature ageing. In 2009 a study was conducted that found that glucose can accelerate the ageing of cells. Not only can this be the cause of the external signs of ageing, but it can also lead to the onset of chronic diseases.
14. Sugar suppresses the immune system
Within two hours of consuming sugar, an immune function called phagocytosis can be suppressed. This process is the one in which phagocytes engulf and ingest the harmful foreign matter, such as pathogens and bacteria that can get into the body.
15. It could be a cause of Alzheimer’s disease
Sugar promotes the formation of Advanced Glycation End products (AGEs), which are substances that have been linked to the development of Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes and atherosclerosis. Biopsies, performed on the brains of Alzheimer’s sufferers, have found large accumulations of Advanced Glycation End products.
16. Sugar can weaken the bones
The AGEs that sugar promotes the production of has also been proven to weaken collagen. Collagen is what gives our bones strength, as well as flexibility and mineralized collagen, makes up the majority of your bone mass.
17. It reduces the effectiveness of vitamin C
Insulin is what transports both sugar and vitamin C to the cells in our body and, if the insulin is too tied up dealing with an excess in sugar, then the vitamin C will not be absorbed where it is needed, which will have a negative impact on the immune system.
18. Excess sugar has been proven to shorten lifespans
Shorter life is another one of the dangerous side effects of sugar. An overload of sugar, especially from sugary drinks, is known to reduce the life expectancy in an average adult. A 2013 study estimated that almost 200,000 deaths each year, worldwide, were attributable solely to drinking sweetened beverages.
19. Sugar causes insulin resistance and Type II diabetes
Excessive intake of sugar can make our blood cells resistant to the effects of insulin. When this occurs, the body needs to produce more and more insulin to protect us from the effects of sugar, until it reaches the stage that it cannot produce enough insulin and type II diabetes sets in.
20. It can cause leptin resistance
Leptin is the hormone that tells you when you have eaten enough food and sugar can interfere with the functioning of leptin. If you consume too much sugar, then you become resistant to leptin, and you do not realise when you have eaten enough, so you keep on eating, and you put on weight. This is why some are now calling sugar the new silent killer, as this effect on your appetite progresses slowly, without you noticing.
Do you have a lot of sugar in your diet? What other side effects of sugar did we forget to mention?
Feel free to share your thoughts and healthy eating tips in the comment section below.