A number of years ago fat was considered to be a health hazard – the cause of many chronic health issues. Well, times have changed and research is proving this to be inaccurate. New studies are finding that fat is not so hazardous after all – it is actually sugar that is causing many health issues! So, why is sugar such a health hazard?
The hidden ingredient
Sugar seems to be hidden in everything that is processed. Many people think of candy, cakes, donuts and baked goods as the main source of refined sugar. But the fact is that sugar is hiding in almost all processed foods – foods that seem to be healthy and not sweet including sauces, dressings, ketchup, marinades, crackers, cereals, breads, cheese spreads and even baby formula.
Common beverages are heavily loaded with sugar; most people are aware of this fact. Sweetened commercial beverages are very dangerous to our health because people have no idea exactly how much refined sugar they are consuming with each beverage. These beverages can seem fairly innocent but they contain a very large amount of processed sugar, particularly fructose and often HFCS (high fructose corn syrup). This includes sweetened fruit juices and fruit beverages, rice and nut beverages, soy beverages, iced teas, soft drinks and carbonated beverages, yogurt drinks, beverage crystals (mixes) and even flavored waters. The popularity of these sweetened beverages and the huge amount consumed overall is linked to many chronic illnesses such as obesity, diabetes, and heart disease.
Refined sugar does not contain any nutrients, enzymes, protein, fiber or healthy fats. It is void of all nutrition – an empty food! There is nothing in refined sugar to slow down its absorption into the blood as blood sugar, and there is nothing to give us the feeling that we are full or that we need to stop eating the empty foods. In nutrient dense foods the fiber and protein do both of those things for us – they slow down the rate of absorption into the blood as blood sugar and they help us feel full or satisfied when we have had enough.
Glucose and fructose
Sucrose or table sugar is made of two simple sugars: glucose and fructose. Glucose and fructose are both sugars, but they are different – particularly in terms of how the body metabolizes them.
Glucose is vital to life. It is found in all cells and our body produces it. It is the energy that our bodies were meant to use. All of our cells can use glucose.
Fructose is not produced by the body – we get it from whole foods (fruits and vegetables) and / or from refined sugars. Fructose from whole foods is not harmful, whereas the refined sugar form of fructose is harmful. The only way our body can metabolize fructose is through the liver, and the liver can easily be overloaded with too much fructose, which causes a myriad of health issues.
Important note: The amount of fructose that we consume from whole foods is fairly insignificant compared to the amount of fructose we are (unknowingly) consuming from refined added sugars.
What are the harmful effects of sugar?
- Is addictive! It can cause the release of massive amounts of dopamine in the brain, which can lead to addiction.
- Is a leading cause of obesity.
- Increases the risk of diabetes. Sugar causes spiking and crashing of blood sugar and excess insulin production – the blood sugar rollercoaster, which can lead to pre-diabetes and diabetes.
- Causes insulin resistance, meaning that the body no longer responds properly to the insulin that is produced, with the end result of diabetes and obesity. This can contribute to many other diseases.
- Has recently been shown to be a leading cause of heart disease. Read more here about the effects of fructose here.
- Causes reduced chromium in the diet. Chromium helps regulate blood sugar.
- Causes tooth decay and gum disease by feeding harmful bacteria in the mouth.
- Accelerates aging. After sugar enters the blood stream it can attach to proteins (glycation); these new cells contribute to loss of elasticity in tissues and organs including the skin.
- Affects behavior and cognitive learning in children, and later in life it can affect the memory and overall cognitive health.
- Increases stress by causing the body to release the ‘fight or flight’ hormones adrenalin, epinephrine and cortisol, which can cause a feeling of anxiousness while giving the body a boost in energy.
- Causes nutritional deficiencies because it fills up our tummies but has absolutely no nutrition. Studies have shown that people who consume a lot of sugar in the form of highly refined foods are most often lacking vitamins and minerals.
- Can overload the liver with fructose, causing excess fat. This excess fat can cause fatty liver disease. It also ends up as fat around the organs, and causes high blood trigylcerides.
- Suppresses the body’s immune system by affecting the balance of yeast and bacteria in the body. Since bacteria and yeast feed off of sugar, excess sugar can cause the bacteria and yeast to grow and become unbalanced. When an imbalance occurs between yeast and bacteria, infections and illnesses are more likely to happen.
- Affects the body’s acid-alkaline balance. Sugar causes the blood and tissues to become acidic. In order to balance the acidity and maintain the correct pH level, the body will take calcium out of the bones. Over a period of time, this can cause loss of bone density leading to osteopenia and osteoporosis.
There are some natural sweeteners that can be used, which are less harmful such as maple syrup, honey, and stevia. But even natural sweeteners, if consumed in large quantities are not healthy and can cause harm. Fresh fruit can often be used to sweeten foods rather than sugar.
I have written two other articles, which you might be interested in reading.: Eliminate Sugar in 5 Simple Steps! and Is Sugar Related to Women’s Hormone Issues? They are in the FREE Membership area of this website. At the bottom of the article Eliminate Sugar in 5 Simple Steps! there is an option to download a PDF file of a Transcript from one of my Sugar Talk and More Online Radio Programs. Here is the link to the Members Site.
Are you concerned about the hazards of consuming sugar, but need some support around making dietary and lifestyle changes? Contact me – I can help!
To order your copy of The Sugar Switch™ – click here.
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