But just the thought of ditching your sweet treats already leave you feeling week and sad, which makes you crave for them even more. Sugar has become a vital part of our daily lives. When we need a jolt, we grab a cup of espresso, frappe or milk tea that’s loaded with sugar. When we feel down we turn to our favorite friend – chocolates. As they say, you can’t buy happiness but you can buy cookies or cupcakes or ice cream!
I bet all of us want to live a long life. We all strive for good health. And who doesn’t want to have a toned body? The ugly truth is that our sweet pleasures are actually sweet toxin. According to The World Health Organization the recommended sugar intake for adults with a normal BMI is 25 grams or about 6 teaspoons daily. And every day that we consume more than the recommended amount, we are farther away from a long, healthy life with a toned body.
Why Sugar is bad for you
- Excess sugar is nothing more than empty calories. Eating sugary foods will bring in a lot of calories to your body without bringing any nutrient. In fact, a USDA study suggested that sugar takes the place of essential nutrients in our body particularly vitamins A, C, folate, vitamin B-12, calcium, phosphorous, magnesium and iron.
- It’s very addicting. It is absolutely normal to struggle with bringing down the sugar intake compared to what your body has been used to. This is part of the ill-effects of increased sugar consumption. Every time we eat sugary food, a high amount of dopamine is released in our brain. This is what makes us feel “high”. Over time, our body gets used to this high level of dopamine and the receptors begin to down-regulate leaving us craving for more sweets just so we could keep the same amount of “high”. No wonder sugar is said to be more addicting than cocaine or heroine.
- Sugar will give you belly fat. This is the most evident negative effect of sugar on our bodies. A study revealed that children who consume excess fructose have developed big belly. Added sugar is thought of as the culprit for obesity, particularly those from very sweet beverages. A 12-ounce soda usually contains 8 teaspoons of sugar.
- It’s bad for your liver. It can damage your liver as bad as alcohol. This is based on a study published in the journal Nature in 2012. The study showed that fructose and glucose when taken excessively have toxic effects on the liver.
- Sugar can lead to fatal heart diseases. People have been conscious about eating fatty foods believing that they are high in bad cholesterol. But recent studies show that sugar does a better job at causing heart disease. High amounts of fructose can increase bad cholesterol, blood sugar and insulin levels in just 10 weeks.
- It leads to obesity. No one wants to be fat but everyone loves dessert. Added sugar messes with our brain and our hormones. Again, sugar is empty calories. No matter how much sweets you eat, it will still leave you feeling hungry. The more a person consumes simple sugar, the more they become at risk for developing obesity and diabetes.
- Sugar causes cancer. Cancer happens when there is uncontrolled growth and multiplication of cells. Insulin takes care of regulating this growth. Scientists believe that those who consume large amounts of sugar leads to metabolic problems and cancer. To make matters worse, sugar can decrease your chance of surviving cancer.
- Glucose consumption is found to accelerate the aging process of cells including brain cells. A 2012 study revealed that consumption of sugar in large amounts can affect your memory and damage overall cognitive health.
- When we’re stressed or down, we often turn to sweet treats to perk our mood. But this is just for a fleeting moment. When our blood sugar levels are often uneven, our mood becomes uneven as well.
- Sugar causes Insulin resistance. Insulin allows glucose to enter cells from the bloodstream and burn it. This is very important because having a high level of glucose in our blood is toxic for our body.
At this point I know you’re already convinced that you should take conscious effort to reduce your simple sugar intake daily. But where does one start?
You can start by being conscious of what you eat. Eliminating sugar is close to impossible. They are present not only in candies and pastries but in processed foods as well like sauces, dressings and even soups.
Know what you’re eating. Read the label. If it says fructose, glucose, lactose, maltodextrin and dextrose, they all mean the same thing – sugar.
Whenever you feel the urge to eat sweets, go on, but don’t eat all that’s within your reach. Just choose your poison.
Not all sweet things are bad. Sweets coming fruits are a good alternative. They can satisfy your sweet craving and give the nutrients your body needs. If you’re not into fruits you can chew a gum. Always keep a gum handy so anytime you look for a dessert, you have one ready. It will prevent you from giving in to sinful desserts.
Yes, it is so hard to ditch extra sugar in our diet but hard does not mean impossible. Taking baby steps towards good health is half the battle won. Don’t aim for big strides but rather consistency.
Leanne Thompson is a writer and a blogger who has contributed to some of the most well known Health, Fitness and Nutrition blogs. She has struggled with her weight in her teenage years, which has driven her to undertake a Bachelors of Nutrition degree in the renowned Iowa State University, mostly to study the needs of a human body and how to make the most out of her life. She has made it her life goal to spread awareness about the importance of healthy weight loss and the well being of people she has contact with.
Mark Dilworth, BA, PES
My Fitness Hut