Soda, coffee, cakes, pastries, pasta sauces, salad dressings, chocolates, bread, ketchup, yogurt – almost all food items contain added sugar. Surprisingly enough, even those which do not actually taste sweet have added sugar in them. If you don’t watch what you are eating, you might not realize the amount of sugar that you are consuming on a daily basis.
Although there’s nothing wrong with indulging in a few sweet treats once in a while, consuming too much sugar has negative effects to your health. Here, we will take a look at why it’s dangerous for your health to consume too much sugar, and what you can do to take control of this part of your daily diet.
Quick Stats About Sugar Consumption and Production
First, let’s take a look at a few quick statistics regarding the consumption and production of sugar in the US. According to Statista.com, for 2009 to 2010, approximately 9.9 million metric tons of sugar were consumed in the US. Around the world, 154.1 million metric tons of sugar were consumed for the same year. In 2010, Texas produced around 1.47 million tons of sugar cane.
As you can see, Americans consume almost 10 million metric tons of sugar in a metric year. During the holiday season when people cook more for festivities and family gatherings, the consumption of sugar becomes even greater. The good news is that you can actually gain control of your sugar consumption so that you can steer clear of its negative effects to your health.
Perhaps the number one step is to determine what’s considered healthy and what is considered excessive when it comes to sugar consumption. According to the American Heart Association, women should get no more than 100 calories a day from added sugar. That’s about six teaspoons of sugar. For men, the association recommends around 150 calories or about 9 teaspoons of sugar. Anything more than that will subject you to the dangers of eating too much sugar.
Why Eating Sugar Is Bad for You
To give you an idea about why it pays to seriously lay off the sweet stuff, here’s a list of the dangers of eating too much sugar:
It’s bad for the heart.
In a nutritional trends survey for sugar consumption in the US from 1988 to 2010, it shows that the number one killer of both men and women is cardiovascular disease. The studies concluded that just one 12-ounce can of soda per day added enough sugar to a person’s diet, which in turn increases the odds of developing heart disease by 35%. Even if you’re not a soda drinker, more than 15% of your daily caloric consumption from sugar-infused, processed food items can increase your risks of developing heart disease.
A good rule of thumb to follow to prevent heart disease resulting from too much sugar intake is this: if you are consuming 2,000 calories per day, you should be taking in no more than 300 calories from processed, sweet food items. Surprisingly enough, even non-sweet food items do contain sugar so you really need to be careful if you want to take care of your heart’s health. These findings are consistent on all age groups, genders, and even those who are living a relatively healthy lifestyle.
It’s bad for your teeth and gums.
You may have heard this from your mom an endless number of times, but sweet food is bad for your teeth. The longer sugar sticks to the enamel of your teeth, the more chances you have of developing tooth decay. However, sugars naturally found in whole fruits are less likely to cause teeth problems.
When you eat a whole fruit, the sugar is contained within its structure so it would not cause as much damage on the teeth. If you turn them into juices especially when mixed with water, it can still cause tooth decay. But all in all, fruit juice is still the healthier choice as compared to sodas or other sugar laden drinks that you can buy from the market.
It is highly addictive.
For a lot of people, sugar can be very addictive. When you consume sugar-laden food products, it causes a release of dopamine in the reward center of the brain. This could also be the root of the terms sugar high and sweet tooth. If you describe yourself as having a sweet tooth, then you might just be literally addicted to sugar.
It can lead to obesity in both kids and adults.
Eating too much sugar can lead to obesity in both kids and adults. The way that sugar affects the hormones and the brain can result to weight gain. The more that you consume sugar, the more that you crave it – yet you still do not feel satisfied or satiated. As a result, you lose control over your sugar consumption. For kids, each daily serving of sugar-sweetened drinks can increase their chances of being obese by as much as 60%.
It’s bad for your liver.
Fructose is a component of sugar and when this turns into fat in the liver, some of it can get lodges in the organ. It may lead to Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease, which is a growing problem in western countries. Research shows that individuals with fatty liver consume up to 3 to 3 times more fructose than the average person. If you do not want to develop liver disease, you definitely should ease up on your sugar consumption.
It can lead to metabolic syndrome and diabetes.
When you have too much glucose or blood sugar in your body, it can be highly toxic and it is one of the reasons for complications of diabetes. Too much sugar consumption can also lead to metabolic dysfunction which is caused by the Western diet, where the body becomes resistant to insulin. Other diseases that may stem from this are metabolic syndrome, heart problems and obesity.
It can lead to cancer.
One of the leading causes of death in the world is cancer, and consuming too much sugar may lead to this. Multiple studies have shown that those who eat food items containing a lot of sugar are at a much higher risk of getting cancer due to metabolic problems, constantly elevated sugar levels and inflammation.
It can increase your chances of depression.
As mentioned earlier, consuming sugar releases the feel good hormones called serotonin. So how can excessive sugar consumption actually increase your chances of depression? Overloading your system with sugar seems to have the reverse effect.
In a study conducted by the Baylor College of Medicine, it showed that there is a direct correlation between sugar consumption and the annual rate of depression in half a dozen countries. In general, behavioral disorders are affected by massive swings in sugar. If you consume a lot of food items with sugar, your blood sugar levels will suddenly shoot up – then go way down low. Such fluctuations affect your metabolism and your moods, which may cause excessive sugar consumption to lead to depression.
It can cause you to have high blood sugar.
When you gulp down a cup of sugar-infused drink from a convenience store which has a volume of 48 ounces, your body is going to be a virtual fermentation tank. When your blood sugar is high, the extra sugars in your saliva and urine can be a breeding ground for the bacteria candida, which may lead to oral thrush or yeast infections.
It can sap your brain power.
In a 2009 study, it revealed a positive relationship between glucose consumption and cell ageing. Cell ageing can have effects which are as simple as wrinkles on the skin, to something as dire as chronic disease development. Too much sugar consumption can also be linked to deficiencies in memory and overall cognitive health.
It can lead to chronic diseases.
More than just elevating your blood sugar levels, your insulin levels will also rise if you consume too much sugar. If you have a chronically high insulin level, it can lead to heart disease, cancers, myopia, polycystic ovarian syndrome or even something as simple as acne. Reducing your sugar intake will help lower your insulin level, as well as your risk of developing chronic conditions.
As you can see, there are plenty of health dangers associated with too much sugar consumption. So what’s the best way to avoid sugary food items, especially if you have a sweet tooth? It’s all about monitoring your food consumption. Remember that sugar hides in everyday food items, even the non-sweet ones like tomato sauce, salad dressing, bread, tonic water, marinades for meat, crackers, etc.
If you can, stick to the number of calories recommended by the American Heart Association. Just to review, it’s six teaspoons of sugar for women and nine teaspoons of sugar for men. The less sugary your daily diet is, the less your risks of developing chronic diseases brought about by too much added sugar – so ease up on the sweet stuff.