You add it to your morning cup of coffee or tea. You bake it into pastries, cakes, and cookies. You even sprinkle it all over your breakfast cereals for that added “flavour.” But that’s not all. It’s also hidden in some beloved “treats” that people consume on a daily basis, such as sodas, colas, fruit juices, candies, and ice cream. It also lurks in almost all processed foods, including breads and ketchup.
It’s none other than sugar. Most people view sugary foods as tasty, satisfying, and irresistible treats. But there are three words that can more accurately describe sugar : toxic, addictive and deadly. It is one of the most damaging substances that you can ingest – and what’s terrifying about it is that it’s just so abundant in our everyday diet. This intense addiction to sugar is becoming rampant, not just among adults, but in children as well.
So how exactly does sugar work in our body, and what are the side effects of eating too much sugar on people’s health?
- BRAIN: Researches have shown that sugar can alter your brain chemistry and hijack the brain’s pathways. It can affect the connections in the brain and can be detrimental to the Central Nervous System. The intake of sugar activates the tongue’s taste receptors which send the signals to the brain causing a surge of feel good hormones like dopamine to be released. This in turn increases the craving for more sugar.
- STOMACH: Not only sugar is high on calories which can add extra kilos to your body weight, it can actually increase your craving to intake more calories as mentioned above.Fructose (fruit sugar) may actually increase appetite by interfering with the body’s hormones.
- MOUTH: Eating sugar increases the acidity in the mouth creating a perfect environment for bacteria. These bacteria can severely impact tooth enamel and can cause plaque.
- HEART: An excess intake of sugar significantly increases the risk of heart disease.It inflames the linings of the arteries in the circulatory system, restricting the proper flow of blood in the system and also causing clots. Thus it increases the risk of strokes and heart attacks.
- BONES &JOINTS: Chronic inflammation caused by processed sugar and other refined carbohydrates have immensely detrimental effects on the joints within the body. Medical conditions like osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis are caused due to inflammation and sugar is notorious to increase inflammation further. Sugaris so acidifying that it causes the body to take calcium from the bones and excrete it through the urine.
- KIDNEYS: An overload of sugar can damage the millions of filtering units in the kidneys that purify the blood. Excess sugar makes the kidneys work hard and filter too much blood resulting in the damage of its filtration system. Diabetes is actually one of the most common causes of kidney failure.
- PANCREAS: The body converts blood glucose to energy through a hormone called insulin. When blood glucose is in the bloodstream, the pancreas creates and release insulin into the blood to process the glucose. Too much sugar causes the pancreas to put out the extra insulin without too much trouble. This causes the pancreas to age out faster and results in pancreatic attacks or diabetes.
- ENERGY LEVELS: Carbohydrates like sugar are processed quickly by the body and causes the blood sugar to spike and then crash suddenly. As the blood sugar levels crash, so do the energy levels within the body. This is one of the primary reasons why a lot of people are chronically fatigued and feel tired even with little or no effort.
Sugar, in its natural form is not inherently bad as long as it is consumed in moderation. However it is advisable that you seriously limit your consumption of processed sugar and add more natural forms such as honey or jaggery to your diet.