Food Health

Why Eating Sugar Is Bad for You

Why Eating Sugar Is Bad for You
Written by Oana Schneider

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.

Why Eating Sugar Is Bad for You

Kids Shouldn’t Eat Sugar at All!

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.

Why Eating Sugar Is Bad for You

Sugar Leads to Diabetes and Obesity!

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.

About the author

Oana Schneider

Oana Schneider is a published author located in Chicago, Illinois, who currently works for DontPayFull.com as a communication specialist and blog editor. She writes about lifestyle, family budget, has a degree in Communications and advocates for women’s rights. Her future plans include getting a Labrador and losing a few pounds.

13 Comments

  • It’s incredible how many people eat far more sugar than they should. Perhaps nothing is more dangerous for your health long-term or more accessible, yet people consume copious amounts of this substance on a daily basis. That’s not going to change for most people until they start to deal with its adverse health effects.

  • I agree, there are many negative effects of sugar on your body. It’s very damaging to your teeth and gives you diabetes. Someone once told me that if you give something up for 21 days it isn’t a habit anymore and you can easily give it up after that. Sugar is no exception to this. I have personally tried it and have had a lot of success with it.

  • Cutting down on sugar consumption seems to be one of the quickest ways to improve overall health. I’ve witnessed it in others as well as myself. I admit I love chocolate, but ever since I became more mindful of my health and what I put in my body, I’ve found I have a lot more energy and endurance than I used to. My most effective ways to curb sugar cravings are to exercise regularly, and to replace sweet treats with fresh fruits as often as possible.

  • We all know that sugar is bad for us but seeing all the negative effects of it all laid out in one article is quite shocking. I’m sure quite a percentage of the population consume too much sugar, it’s basically in everything we eat nowadays and we are often quite unaware of what’s in our food.

    The picture of that little boys teeth was heartbreaking, I can’t imagine how painful that would be physically and also mentally.

    It’s crazy how we as a society continue to eat so much of something that we know is bad for us and is causing us harm. I suppose the addictive factor comes a bit into play here, but it’s still quite terrifying to think of the hold that food has over us. I am working on cutting down my sugar consumption myself, I completely avoid soft drinks and candy these days (although I haven’t quite been able to give up chocolate just yet!). I’ve also given up fruit juice as well, although I used to drink quite a bit of orange juice but there’s just so much sugar in it!

    • Blackcanary I so agree with you. When you hear about sugar’s adverse health effects they usually come in spurts, not an entire list. Yikes!

      One reason we tend to eat so much is that sugar is hidden in so many foods. Spaghetti sauce, like the author mentions, has 10 grams of sugar in a one-cup serving. These foods with “hidden” sugar lead consumers to believe they are better for us. I have granola bars daily as a snack to try and stay on the healthy path. Yes, they too are loaded with sugar. Eating healthy has become a constant battle with impeccable attention to detail when shopping for quality foods to feed your family. It is much easier to buy foods full of preservatives and sugar, but do you really want the list of consequences listed above to harm your family. The time it takes to shop for healthy foods will pay off with the future health of your loved ones.

  • Most sought after article for today’s lifestyles. Sugar promotes inflammation in the body and could eventually lead to degenerative diseases like Diabetes and heart attack. A heart attack is caused by Atherosclerosis or arteriosclerosis. Sugar increases bad cholesterol. This along with, hypertension or diabetes, damage arterial inner walls and hence inflammation, leading to heart disease.

    Sugar is best avoided!

  • Really kids shouldn’t eat sugar. I have been trying to stick to that for my own kid but it can be quite challenging to stop him from eating it alltogether especially in a kids party or when where with other people.

  • As you pointed out in the article, consuming excess sugar is extremely harmful to your health. I used to drink a lot of soda and it really was not good for me. Once I decided to stop I started losing weight and also feeling much happier. I’ve noticed a lot more news stories over the last couple of years warning about the effects of sugar and I think a lot more people are finally catching on to the dangers.

  • I used to have a lot of sugar in my tea and other drinks. It caused a huge damage to my teeth and the sensitivity of my teeth increased too much. At one stage i couldn’t even open my jaw for an uncomfortable feeling in my teeth. I gradually started to leave sugar and now it’s giving me a positive outcome.

  • I believe there’s also types of sugars that you can have, since your body sometimes needs sugar in order to survive, but not too much as to not risk diabetes, even if they say it’s genetic. I think sugar depends on where you actually have it, and what from. There’s really bad candy out there that they don’t care what elements they inject into it, plus lots of sugar. I believe when sugar interacts with other elements it might be dangerous and bad, very unhealthy.

  • While sugar is highly addictive, you can break the addiction and even lose your tolerance to it simply my abstaining entirely for a while. An entire month without any added sugar may be enough for some people go from loving a candy bar to being so overwhelmed by the intensity of the sugar in one bite that they can’t even eat it.

  • I am totally in agreement that sugar is bad for you, I don’t think that it should be totally taken out of a diet. Kids deserve to have a little treat every now and then but the problem with this country is we do not know moderation. We have gone for an all or nothing state of mind. For some of us though we know ourselves and it can be come like gambling for some people and very addictive and they know they need to stay away from it. I do think that we need to definitely do more product research and read labels and to find out what is in our food more. I have learned that when the producers of food try and make something so called healthy and take out the fat or call the product low fat they are really replacing it with more sugar at times. I have read labels on some foods and the foods that call themselves diet or low fat they are loaded with sugar. So are they really all that good for you? Too much sugar can turn to fat eventually when you eat too much of it. Sugar in excess causes the body to get sluggish and tired but it can cause you to have problems with your teeth long term. I was at the dentist with my children one day and watched the hygienist tell a family that their daughter had 7 cavities. The little girl was eating candy in the dentist office. It’s not just kids though that are getting fed this highly addictive product but it’s adults that think they are doing something good by eating low fat. Sugar I have noted does come in many forms. While I don’t know what all of them are I do know that the major food companies try to call the some big name so that we don’t recognize it and will just eat it anyways. The biggest and best name I think we all know is high fructose corn syrup and sugar is sugar. Doesn’t matter if you call it sugar or not it’s still sugar. Now there are natural sugars such as in fruit. They don’t have any added sugar in them just what comes from nature and how they are grown. I don’t know about you but i don’t go out to my raspberry bushes and load them up with sugar by sprinkling them. Bottom line is we need to be more aware of the things we put into our bodies and not go overboard just exercise and eat more healthier options by reading labels and looking for artificial ingredients and or excess things in them that aren’t good for you.

  • One of e biggest things sugar does is mess up your body’s mineral balance. This is what leads to tooth decay because the teeth are weakened from within, which makes them vulnerable to bacteria and acids. Teeth usually go first, but over time the bones can be affected, which is likely a big reason for the high rate of osteoporosis in the U.S. and other countries that eat a lot of sugar.

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