Sugar is present in all foods, such as fruits and vegetables. Its responsible and conscious consumption translates into benefits for our bodies and our health in the long term. Still, there is a prevalent type of sugar that can become a sweet enemy: added sugar.
The presence of added sugar is in most processed foods since its use helps preserve and prolong it over time (in addition to making them more palatable). It's even found in foods that we wouldn't believe required to be sweetened, like soups, bread, meats, and dressing sauces.
The excessive consumption of added sugar is mainly in sugary drinks, which increases the risk of long-term diseases such as being overweight and heart problems. In this article, we will see some of the negative effects that excess added sugar could have on our diet, and we will also see how we can avoid these risks and lead a healthy life.
How cannot controlling my intake of added sugar affect my body?
Weight gain: Foods with added sugar like sugary drinks do not control hunger, making it easy to consume a large amount of it without feeling full or satisfied, triggering accelerated weight gain. Drinking artificially sweetened beverages is linked to excess visceral fat production, associated with diabetes and some heart diseases.
High risk of heart disease: heart diseases are the leading cause of death in the world. High consumption of added sugar can cause obesity, inflammation, high triglycerides, blood sugar, and blood pressure, all of which can lead to heart disease risk.
Increases the risk of cancer and type 2 diabetes: High sugar intake causes resistance to insulin, a hormone produced in the pancreas, which regulates the level of sugar in the blood. If our body becomes resistant to insulin, the risk of diabetes increases. Eating a diet high in sugar not only causes insulin resistance; it also causes obesity and inflammation, risk factors for cancer.
Increased risk of depression: Eating many processed foods like cakes and sugary drinks is associated with an increased risk of depression. Changes in blood sugar, neurotransmitter dysregulation, and inflammation are responsible for the negative effect of excess sugar.
Accelerates the aging process in the skin: A diet high in refined sugar causes the production of AGEs (advanced glaciation end products) that cause premature aging of the skin. EFAs attack the proteins that keep the skin looking young and healthy (collagen and elastin). When these proteins fail, the firmness of the skin is lost.
Accelerates cell aging: Telomeres (protective caps of chromosomes) prevent chromosomes from deteriorating or damaging each other. As we age, it is natural for telomeres to shorten, age, and malfunction. Consuming high amounts of sugar accelerates this process. For example, every 591 ml serving of soda with added sugar is equal to 4.6 more years of accelerated aging without considering the other variables of each subject.
It robs you of energy: Eating foods high in added sugar increases blood sugar and insulin levels, which increases energy, but this usually does not last long since, after this substantial increase in energy comes a sharp drop in blood sugar levels, which is known as a crash.
Causes fatty liver: Fructose is a type of sugar that is absorbed only by the liver. There it is converted into energy and stored as glycogen. The liver can house a limited amount of glycogen. When you exceed this limit, it is converted to fat accumulating in the liver, causing nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). This factor contributes to diabetes, which increases the risk of heart disease.
In addition to what we have mentioned above, the uncontrolled consumption of added sugar or processed foods that contain it can cause other problems such as a negative impact on dental health (causes tooth decay and demineralization). Increase the risk of kidney disease (the high blood sugar levels damage the blood vessels of the kidneys). Increases the risk of developing or worsening gout (added sugar increases uric acid levels in the blood) and accelerates cognitive decline (negatively affecting memory and increases the risk of dementia).
How can I take care of the dangers of added sugar?
But this article was not created to fill your life with terror. As we show the risks of excessive consumption of these sugars, we also bring you some healthy, handy, and practical alternatives to make your life naturally sweet. Being aware of what you eat is not only delicious, but it also takes care of your health. Are you ready to start?
- Change or eliminate sugary drinks and replace them with water.
- Drink your coffee dark or use sweeteners like Stevia.
- Avoid buying sugar-laden yogurts. Better sweeten your natural yogurt with fresh or frozen fruits.
- Eat your fruits whole instead of blending them into an artificially sweetened smoothie.
- Change the sweets for small mixtures of dried fruits, dehydrated, and some dark chocolate chips.
- Substitute honey and dressings for olive oil.
- Look for cereals with less than 4 grams of sugar per serving.
- Use natural butter instead of sweet creams like Nutella.
- Avoid sweetened alcoholic beverages.
- Always look for fresh and natural foods near your home.
Consuming sugar in small amounts and in a non-constant way is perfectly healthy, although our first recommendation is to reduce its consumption whenever possible. Replacing "sweets" with one of the alternatives mentioned above will automatically reduce the amount of sugar in our diet and improve our health and quality of life.
The key to avoiding uncontrolled sugar intake is to prepare your meals at home and thus avoid buying processed foods with high sugar levels. A balanced, varied, and flavorful diet does not have to be dull or bitter. Natural sugars are everywhere and are beneficial for you. Complementing these recommendations with exercise and IMMUNE guarantees that your lifestyle remains active and full of energy for a long time.