A high sugar diet has a number of adverse health effects. Sugar isn't just white, refined table sugar; sugar comes in many forms such as glucose, fructose, lactose and sucrose. Fruit, milk, honey, jam and maple syrup are all some of the sources of sugar in our diets. The average American consumes two to three pounds of sugar per week, and all that sugar has harmful health effects. Keep reading to discover why you should limit your daily sugar consumption.
Sugar Affects Insulin Levels
The glycemic index measures how foods affect blood glucose levels. Each food is assigned a numbered rating, and the lower the rating, the slower that food is absorbed into your body, providing a healthy, gradual infusion of sugars into the bloodstream. A high rating means that sugars are released more quickly, which stimulated the pancreas to secrete more insulin to lower blood sugar levels.
Sugar, honey, syrups and fruit juices rate high on the glycemic index. When you eat sugar, it causes your blood sugar levels to spike quickly, leading to increased insulin production. Higher insulin levels can inhibit the production of growth hormones and weaken your immune system. High insulin levels also contribute to weight gain, and, over time, the stress on your body can lead to diabetes.
Sugar Weakens the Immune System
Since the 1970s, doctors and scientists have known that vitamin C helps white blood cells kill viruses and bacteria. White blood cells must accumulate vitamin C in order to consume virus, bacteria or cancer cells. But glucose and vitamin C have similar structures, so when you eat sugar, your body's white cells accumulate glucose instead of vitamin C, leaving less room inside the cell for it to accumulate the vitamin C it needs to fight off pathogens. Sugar, therefore, slows your immune system down.
Sugar Contributes to Disease
The list of physical, mental and emotional disorders exacerbated and even caused by sugar consumption is long. Sugar wreaks havoc with your body's insulin levels, sending them up and down, up and down, and puts strain on your metabolism, so that, over time, excess sugar consumption can lead to diabetes. Sugars also contribute to weight gain, which can lead to cardiovascular disease, hypertension and arthritis.
Other Harmful Effects of Sugar
Here are some of the other harmful effects of sugar:
- Sugar contributes to anxiety, depression and hyperactivity.
- Sugar reduces HDL cholesterol levels and raises LDL cholesterol levels.
- Sugar can cause hypoglycemia.
- Sugar can cause kidney damage.
- Sugar leads to tooth decay.
- Sugar can cause mineral deficiencies.
- Sugar can cause headaches and migraines.
- Sugar can increase fatty deposits in the liver.
- Sugar can inhibit your ability to think clearly.
- Sugar can increase your risk of blood clots and strokes.
Eliminating Sugar from Your Diet
It isn't enough to stop putting sugar in your coffee and tea if you want to reduce the amount of sugar in your diet. To limit dietary sugar, avoid processed foods and simple carbs. Products made with high-fructose corn syrup should be eliminated, and you should stick to fresh fruits and fruits juices.
If you have sugar cravings, that means your body's blood sugar levels are low. Don't reach for a sweet; instead, eat a protein-rich snack.