Imagine you’re relaxing on the couch sipping a tall glass of your favorite soda. You open the peanut-chocolate candy bar you bought on the way home from work and take a big bite. “Ah! This is the life,” you tell yourself.
But if you learned that you were about to consume a whopping 68 grams of sugar (39 from the soda, 29 from your candy bar)—and if you discovered the danger you were getting into as a result—you might not think it was quite “the life” you originally thought.
But wait a minute! Candy and soda may not be the healthiest snacks—but dangerous? How so? Don't your body’s cells need sugar to function properly?
If you’ve studied chemistry or biology, you know the answer is yes. But that type of sugar—glucose—is different from most sugars added to your diet. One of the most common forms of added sugar, and probably the most dangerous, is fructose. While glucose is broken down right away to produce energy, fructose is broken down into substances that tend to build up, resulting in insulin resistance and stored fat.
Fructose, itself, isn’t the problem, Dr. Joseph Mercola explains on his website, mercola.com. After all, you consume it when you eat fruits and vegetables. But the fiber and nutrients present in fruits and vegetables help counteract any negative effects of the fructose; however, when fructose is consumed in concentrated forms, and in overwhelming amounts, it can wreak havoc inside your body.
Unfortunately, much of the U.S. population sets itself up for such health havoc on a daily basis. Dr. Mark Stengler, author of The Natural Physician’s Healing Therapies, tells us that “the average American consumes 125 pounds of sugar per year.” That’s a lot of sugar!
A Not-So-Sweet Ending to Your Day
Do you find yourself offering excuses when faced with sugary temptations? “I worked hard today; I deserve it. I need some enjoyment in life.”
Yes, you do deserve to enjoy life. But if you keep eating too much sugar, your life will no longer be so sweet. Take a look at this list of 10 things that happen to your body when you overload on sugar.
1. Immune System Breakdown
Less than 30 minutes after you consume that sugary snack and drink, your immune system will be compromised, with effects lasting up to five hours, writes Dr. William Sears, well-known pediatrician and author of over 40 books. Many of your white blood cells will be unable to function as they normally do. So if you’ve picked up a virus at work or at school that day, you’re giving it a big opportunity to settle in and make you sick.
As you continue to consume sugar daily, your immune system will be continually weakened, leaving your body vulnerable to invaders. In fact, Dr. Mercola reports that sugar consumption has been linked to over 70 different conditions and diseases.
2. Cardiovascular Disaster
If you don’t care about your heart health, keep guzzling the sodas. Daily consumption of the amount of sugar in one soda increases your risk of death from heart disease by 18%, according to JAMA Internal Medicine.
3. Tooth Decay
Don’t you hate getting a tooth filled at the dentist? Then stop eating so much sugar! Sugar interacts with the plaque in your mouth, forming acids that can attack your teeth for up to 20 minutes or more after eating. And you can imagine the effects of chewing sugary gum!
4. Weight Gain
When your waistline starts to expand, examine your sugar intake. A report from Indiana University’s Office of Science Outreach explains how your liver converts fructose to fat, which is deposited directly into storage. The report concludes, “A diet rich in fructose…leads to significant weight gain.”
5. Insulin Resistance
When your cells can’t process accumulated sugar, their ability to respond to insulin is impaired. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services confirms that this insulin resistance can lead to Type 2 diabetes, a leading cause of death in the U.S.
6. Cancer Encouragement
Keep feeding that sugar addiction and you may be inviting cancer to take root in your body. Although the link between sugar and cancer has been debated, recent work by Lewis Cantley, a leading cancer researcher previously with Harvard Medical School, shows that high insulin levels do contribute to the growth of cancer cells. Many health experts advise cancer patients to completely eliminate sugar from their diets.
7. Digestive Disorder
Deposit loads of sugar into your gut and you’re putting your digestive health at risk as well. Your intestines need to maintain a certain balance of bacteria. The right amount of good bacteria in your gut supports your immune system and helps keep you well. Sugar disrupts that balance and often results in bloating, gas, leaky gut syndrome, ulcers and other conditions.
8. Mind Block
If you’re looking to stay on the dean’s list or to reduce your chances of developing Alzheimer’s, you might want to give up the doughnuts and milkshakes. Findings of a UCLA study published in 2012 proved sugar’s ability to slow your memory and learning.
9. Bone Weakness
Vivian Goldschmidt, author of the Save Our Bones Program, explains how sugar damages a substance called collagen, which keeps your bones strong and flexible. Sugar also leaches important minerals like calcium and magnesium from your bones, while keeping other minerals such as copper from being absorbed.
10. Skin Trouble
Sugar consumption shows on your skin! As reported on WebMD, evidence suggests a link between high insulin levels and acne breakouts. At the other end of the spectrum, sugar can also encourage wrinkles, dull skin and other signs of aging.
Although the list could continue, these 10 dangers give you plenty of reasons to eliminate most added sugar from your diet. In today’s world of processed food, this is no easy task or choice. Continue reading in Part 2 of this series to see how you can eliminate sugar from your diet.
Written by Beth Prassel-Sieg
- OTHER PARTS IN THIS SERIES -
Part 2:Part 3:
THE SWEET LIFE
Becoming a Sugar Sleuth
THE SWEET LIFE
Kick the Sugar Habit
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The Downside of Lighting Up
A Teen's Journey
Kick the Sugar Habit