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Eating sugar can heighten your cravings and exacerbate other issues like weight gain, fatigue, irritability, and hormonal imbalance. Over the long-term, sugar wreaks havoc on your immune system, and overall health. It’s important to understand the different types of sugars, as well as the effects it can have on your body. Excessive sugar intake has been linked to multiple illnesses such as heart disease, diabetes, cancers, and Alzheimer’s.
Sugar comes in different forms. When you consume food the body breaks the food down into blood sugar (glucose). Glucose is a simple sugar that is used by the body for energy. Fructose is processed by the liver. When consumed in large amounts, the body panics and stores sugar as fat. Sucrose and High Fructose Corn Syrup are processed sugars comprised of fructose and glucose. Looking for sugar on your food label? Good luck. Sugar is listed with over 50 different names making it almost impossible to find. Look for names such as corn sweetener, corn syrup, dextrose, fructose, fruit juice concentrate, high fructose corn syrup, honey, invert sugar, lactose, maltose, molasses, raw sugar, sucrose, syrup and table sugar. Some of the most common foods containing sugar are breads, condiments, soups, salad dressings, crackers, cereals, yogurt, instant oatmeal, bananas and carbonated beverages.
How Sugar Effects Your Body
As sugar is processed in your system, it has an impact on all major areas of your body. When you consume sugar, levels of the feel good chemicals Serotonin and Dopamine are released at faster rates. This is why eating sugar can temporarily elevate you mood. However, over time too much output of Serotonin and Dopamine will deplete the body’s stores leading to sugar addiction, depression, and mood swings. The body begins a vicious cycle of craving more sugar, cravings lead to eating more sugar, the body stores the sugar as fat, and the cycle continues. You may notice withdrawal effects when you don’t have sugar including headaches, irritability, fatigue, and depression.
Sugar is mainly processed in the liver and causes the pancreas to release the hormone Insulin. Insulin helps the body use sugar as a source of energy. If sugar is consumed in large amounts the body will overproduce Insulin. High levels of Insulin cause inflammation in the body, elevation of triglycerides, and elevated blood pressure. With the body rushing to store the excess sugar as fat there is less energy source left for the brain and muscles leaving the body tired. After time, this can lead to Insulin Resistance, where the body does not respond as well to Insulin. Type II Diabetes can also begin from this cycle.
Sugar also hinders your immune system, slowing production of white blood cells which protect your body from viruses and bacteria. Some bacterial and fungal infections, including yeast infections, feed off of sugar and can worsen from consumption of it. It causes inflammation in the body which can exacerbate joint pains, headache, chronic pains and joint swelling. Sugar also blocks the absorption of calcium and magnesium which can weaken bones.
How much sugar is too much? The average adult needs less than 25g (women) and 35g (men) of sugar a day. One teaspoon of sugar is equal to 4g of sugar. Sugar never needs to be added to the diet. There is enough in natural fresh foods for the body to process. If your sugar intake is too high the best thing to do is to cut sugar out of the diet cold turkey for at least 72 hours straight. After this, your energy levels, mental clarity and mood should improve significantly. Your cravings will also decrease.
So before you order that extra-large, sugar-laden soda or grab a free doughnut your coworker brought in, just remember the consequences of the sugar on your body will far outlive the taste buds.