Sugar has been used lately in every food and drink, even in sauces. That’s why it has reached an alarming situation as added sugar has many disadvantages related to your health. In the past decade, sugar consumption has abruptly increased. According to a recent study, Americans consumed about 11 million metric tons of sugar between 2020/21 and 2021/22, more than about 10 million metric tons in 2009/2010.
Furthermore, many people rely on commercially processed foods for snacks and meals. Since these foods contain added sugar, a large portion increases their daily sugar intake. The National Institute of Health (NIH) has revealed that in the US, added sugars are up to 14% of the total calorie intake for children and 17% for adults. When it comes to processed food that contains natural and added sugar, adults are mainly responsible because they like to eat more of this type of food.
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How Much Sugar is Too Much?
The American Heart Association suggests no more than 9 teaspoons of added sugar for men and 6 teaspoons for women.
I am not going to sugarcoat things (pun intended), but the reality is quite disappointing— an average American gets more than 22 teaspoons a day. Since one 12-ounce can of regular soda contains 10 teaspoons of sugar and no nutritional benefits, it’s challenging to reduce the daily consumption of sugar.
The Bitter Sides of Sweetness
Sugar is sweet but has too many sour effects on your health. All-natural foods like vegetables, dairy, grain, and fruits have natural sugars, but the one we add is not beneficial for our health. Natural sugar that comes with natural food slowly gets absorbed by the body cell. On the other hand, the added sugar that comes packed in drinks and food leaves harmful effects. Experts believe that sugar consumption causes obesity and other chronic diseases related to the heart and the rest of the body.
Let’s learn more about the reasons why added sugar consumption is bad for your body, especially when you’re an adult.
1. Increase Heart Disease
Among other life-taking diseases, high-sugar diets have been responsible for an increased risk of heart disease, the number one cause of death worldwide (1). A reason by NIH showed that high-sugar food undoubtedly leads to inflammation, obesity, and high triglyceride, besides increasing blood pressure and blood sugar level (2). All of these are risk factors for heart disease.
Moreover, a study of more than 30,000 people found that those who consumed 17-21% of calories from added sugar had a 38% greater risk of having heart disease; meanwhile, those who consumed only 8% of calories from added sugar were safe and healthy. The soda manufacturing company has also revealed that a sugar-added soda of 16 ounces contains 52 grams of sugar, which is equal to more than 10% of your daily calorie consumption.
2. Causes Acne
A diet high in added sugar is associated with a higher risk of developing acne, especially in adults. As a result, foods with a high glycemic index raise your blood sugar faster than foods with a low glycemic index. Since androgen secretion increases insulin, blood sugar levels, and inflammation we can conclude it is explicitly responsible for acne development.
A study has shown that low-glycemic diets are responsible for reduced acne risks. We can again conclude from these studies that high sugar levels or processed food with added sugar increase the chances of developing acne.
3. Causes Weight Gain
Obesity risks have been abruptly increasing these days and added sugars in foods and drinks are one of the primary reasons. Most drinks and sodas are loaded with fructose which is a type of sugar. As a result of fructose, your hunger, and desire for eating more sugar increases, which results in obesity and weight gain, according to a research study.
In addition, the increase in fructose consumption causes resistance to leptin, a hormone that tells your body to stop eating. So, directly and indirectly, sugar is responsible for overeating and weight gain. Research on some people showed that the ones who excessively drink sodas and beverage drinks have more weight than those who don’t drink added sugar drinks.
4. Increases Type 2 Diabetes
According to a recent study, diabetic patients have almost doubled over the past 30 years. Increased risk for type 2 diabetes and sugar consumption is somehow directly and indirectly linked to each other. Since obesity is the number one cause of type 2 diabetes, it occurs due to high sugar consumption.
Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas to regulate blood sugar levels that don’t produce due to prolonged high-sugar consumption. As a result, blood sugar level increases, and the risk for type 2 diabetes also increases.
5. Increases Risk of Cancer
Indirectly, eating excessive amounts of sugar can cause cancer as it increases the chances of obesity which is itself responsible for many types of cancers (3). Since diets with added sugar increases inflammation and insulin resistance, chances for cancer automatically increase.
6. Accelerates the Skin Aging
Wrinkles are a natural sign of aging and appear as you get older. However, a sugar-added diet can worsen wrinkles by accelerating skin aging. Advanced Glycation End products (AGEs) are compounds generated due to the reaction between sugar and protein in your body, which plays an important role in skin aging.
7. Lowers Your Energy
Energy drinks abruptly increase energy due to an increase in insulin and blood sugar levels, but this energy doesn’t last for a prolonged time. As soon as this energy comes to its initial state, it doesn’t go back to its normal state but sinks further down. As a result, your natural energy is drained due to these sugar-added drinks. Drinking energy drinks causes major blood sugar swings that lead to fluctuation in energy levels. (4).
8. Increases Cellular Aging
Telomeres found in chromosomes naturally shorten when you age. But sugar-added diets increase its reduction at a higher speed which causes an increase in cellular aging (5). A study in 5,309 adults showed that regularly drinking sugar-sweetened beverages and sodas is responsible for shortening the telomere length and cellular aging.
9. Risk of Depression
You might be eating comfort foods, but if that one food contains high sugar levels, it’s not that comforting but rather causes depression. A study showed that consuming a lot of processed foods, including high-sugar ones like cakes and sugar drinks, is responsible for a high risk of depression. Another study in over 69,000 adults demonstrated that those with the highest sugar-added diets were at greater risk of depression than those with the lowest intakes.
10. Causes High Blood Pressure
Usually, salt is held responsible for high blood pressure, but sugar is also associated with this problem. Since insulin levels spike due to diets with high added sugar levels, it results in an increase in high blood pressure issues.
11. Increases Risk of Liver Disease
The commercially processed food packed with added sugar contains fructose which builds fat. As a result, it causes non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. Naturally, fructose-containing food like vegetables and fruits is not that risky.
12. Causes Cavity
The bacteria in your teeth are fed by the sugar that you consume through sugar-added diets. This leads to generating plaque and tartar that causes infections, bad odor, and cavities. They’re almost acidic and destroy your teeth within no time.
13. Affects Sleep
Since sugar boosts up your energy by increasing blood glucose levels, it might not let you sleep. You might stay awake the whole night and also shorten the time of your deep sleep. It’s best to reduce or even cut out the added sugar before bedtime.
Read our blog, The Importance of Sleep for Better Health.
Tips to Reduce Your Sugar Intake
Eating natural foods like vegetables, fruits and a less sugar-containing diet can reduce your sugar intake. As a result, you might not suffer from all of the above diseases. We came up with a few useful tips to reduce your sugar intake that is listed below.
- Drink water and unsweetened seltzer instead of sodas, energy drinks, juices, and sweetened teas.
- Drink your coffee black.
- Instead of buying sugar-loaded yogurt, buy sweeten plain yogurt with frozen berries.
- Don’t consume sugar-sweetened fruit smoothies but rather consume whole fruits.
- Use olive oil and vinegar instead of honey mustard in place of a sweet salad.
- Slice fresh banana rather than jelly.
- Avoid sugar-added diets and drinks like soda, juice, and honey.
Since we came to the conclusion that added sugar in your foods and drinks are never healthy and instead cause life-taking diseases, it’s essential to minimize added sugar consumption that increases the sugar level in the body. Take all the precautions to reduce your sugar consumption and begin living a healthier lifestyle.
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