10 Reasons You Should be Giving Up Sugar
You may have seen A LOT about sugar this year and the negative health effects that suddenly seems to be affecting us. Well I’ve got news for you- sugar may have just come into media attention- but its health effects are long existing! To find out why you should cut down and potentially leave sugar behind read this article on why you should be giving up sugar.
1. Sugar and Diabetes
It’s not new news that the levels of diabetes across the world is growing at a rapid uncontrollable rate and these escalating levels can be solely put down to our diets, lifestyles and sugar intakes.
What Is Diabetes?
In the body we have a steady equilibrium within the blood whereby its water, oxygen and sugar content are all highly regulated. When blood sugar levels are increased above the optimum level, the body secretes a hormone called insulin. Insulin tells the body there is too much glucose in the blood and acts to convert this glucose and store it in the liver as a chemical called glycogen- which as a result. allows blood sugar levels to return back to normal levels.
Diabetes is a disorder of carbohydrate metabolism whereby the body is unable to regulate blood sugar levels and secret insulin efficiently, resulting in a condition called hyperglycemia. Diabetes can cause many health problems and is known as a leading risk factor in cardio vascular disease
It’s not new that sugar can increase the risk of diabetes- just take this review by Malik et al (2010). They stated that the consumption of sugar from sugar sweetened beverages such as fizzy drinks and fruit juice has been shown to result in rapid and dramatic increases in blood glucose and insulin concentrations, which due to the large quantities that are often consumed, can contribute to a high dietary glycaemic load. High-GL diets are thought to stimulate appetite and to promote weight gain and have been shown to induce glucose intolerance and insulin resistance. Not only this, but they also revealed in a meta analysis that per 1 serving of SSB per day there was a significant increase in BMI and weight gain.
2. Tooth Decay
Diet affects the integrity of the teeth; quantity, pH, and composition of the saliva; and plaque pH… that’s why when you used to eat sweets there was a reason your parents would tell you to clean your teeth or they’d rot. Touger-Decker and Loveren (2003) state that when consumed, sugars and other fermentable carbohydrates, provide substrates for the actions of oral bacteria, which in turn results in the beginning of tooth demineralization. Therefore, from a nutritional perspective, a primary public health measures for reducing dental caries and tooth decay risk is the consumption of a balanced diet with less sugar.
Many people think that fat is the major contributor to obesity- well in fact, in several epidemiological studies sugar consumption has been shown to lead to an increase in weight gain and BMI- which is especially concerning for children, whereby childhood obesity is known to increase the risk of obesity in adults as well as increasing the risk of long term health problems and chronic disease.
4. Increased Risk of Cancer
High long term sugar intakes have been associated to several different types of cancer including ovarian, oesophageal, endometrial and pancreatic cancer. For example, a study by Michaud et al (2002) claimed that a series of both animal and human studies suggest that abnormal glucose metabolism plays an important role in pancreatic carcinogenesis. Through carrying out a long term cohort study amongst 88,802 women, it was found that 180 women were diagnosed with pancreatic cancer during an 18 year follow up. Amongst these cases it was found that the intake of sugar was associated to the risk of pancreatic cancer- especially amongst those with insulin resistance, high BMI’s and low activity levels. Overall, their data supported that a diet high in glycemic load may increase the risk of pancreatic cancer in women who already have an underlying degree of insulin resistance.
5. Faster Aging
When you consume sugar your blood sugar levels increase. An excess of sugar in the blood can lead to a process called gylcation- which is where glucose molecules can directly bind to amino acids. This results in advanced glycation end products being formed which is a factor in many age related diseases that can also prematurely age our skin.
6. Imbalanced Gut Micro Flora
The gut microflora plays an important role in the body- not only within digestion but also within the development of chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease. The gut microflora is present in the large intestines, due to the pH level and amount of bacteria present here dietary component are able to be digested and absorbed, whereas other parts of the body such the stomach and small intestines are simply not able to do this! By consuming high sugar in your diet you can alter the composition of your gut micro flora within 24 hours which can weaken immunity, impair digestion and increase inflammation.
7. Higher Cholesterol
Sugar is a major cause of weight gain and an increase in fat . through increasing sugar in the diet or consuming too much sugar, the amount of LDL cholesterol can be increased leading to an increase in the risk of atherosclerosis and heart disease.
8. Cardio Vascular Disease
Cardiovascular disease is the world’s number one killer that’s numbers are still rapidly increasing. CVD is an age related disease that is associated with the main risk factors of diabetes, high cholesterol levels, being overweight and high blood pressure. Since consuming large amounts of sugar in the diet is largely associated to CVD risk factors it makes sense that an excessive sugar intake can increase the risk of this chronic disease and overall mortality. For example, a study by Johnson et al (2009) found from national survey data that excessive consumption of added sugars is contributing to overconsumption of discretionary calories, stating that the American Heart Association recommends reductions in the intake of added sugars.
9. Impaired Learning and Memory Loss
Some studies have shown that a diet high in fructose can impair the ability to learn and remember- concerning considering the intake of sugar is most definitely still on the rise! These effects however can be counteracted through supplementation with omega-3.
Large intakes of dietary sugar has been shown in some children to increase the likelihood of developing asthma and other respiratory conditions.
A Take Home Message
Okay… so all over exaggeration aside… a few bananas here and there and sweet treats isn’t going to summon you to one of these ten consequences, however if you have a particularly high sugar diet and know others who do, it could be increasing the risk of these conditions. Make sure you consume a balanced diet and consume as little processed and added sugars as possible, excess sugar cannot only compromise your health but can also prevent you from reaching your fitness goals.