The short answer? Yes. If you’re looking for reasons to reign in your sugar habits, look no further – we’ll be diving into some of the ways excess sugar consumption can affect your whole body and, ultimately, lower your life expectancy. Now for the long answer – here’s what you need to know.
You might be aware that too much sugar can leave you with a nasty headache or have you noticing an increase on the scales, but you might not be aware of the more deadly effects of the sweet stuff. From raising our risk for degenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s to skyrocketing our chances of developing type 2 diabetes, sugar is not as sweet as it tastes! Take a look at some of the ways in which sugar is burying you alive.
Sugar destroys your gut health
It’s no secret that sugar can mess with our gut health, but it’s the knock-on effects that can then cause catastrophic consequences to our health – starting with out microbiome. The gut microbiome is a collection of trillions of bacteria, both good and bad, the balance of which can influence everything from mental to physical health. Take a look at what a sugar habit could be doing to your gut:
- Reduced microbial diversity: Consuming excess sugar can reduce the diversity of microorganisms in the gut, which can then lead to an overgrowth of certain types of bacteria that negatively affect our health, and a reduction in the number of beneficial bacteria that protect us.
- Increased inflammation: Consuming excess sugar can contribute to inflammation in the gut, which can disrupt the balance of the gut microbiome. If we end up with chronic inflammation – often after living off a high-sugar diet – we can end up with a range of health problems like including inflammatory bowel disease.
- Increased risk of dysbiosis: Dysbiosis simply refers to a disrupted gut microbiome. What does this have to do with sugar? Well, eating too much of the sweet stuff can increase your risk for this condition as it promotes the growth of bad bacteria, thereby throwing off the balance.
- Increased risk of intestinal permeability: Intestinal permeability, also known as leaky gut, is a condition in which the lining of the gut becomes more permeable than normal, allowing harmful bacteria and fluid to enter the bloodstream.
This is where we get a chain reaction – with sugar comes poor gut health, with poor gut health comes chronic disease, and with chronic disease comes a reduced life expectancy. This can happen in a number of ways as the gut microbiome plays an important role in maintaining the overall health of the body, and disruptions to its balance can have significant negative impacts on a person's health. Let’s take a look at the increased risk of chronic diseases – research has linked poor gut health to diseases like obesity, type 2 diabetes and liver disease, all of which are known to raise the risks for an early death.
Poor gut health can also weaken your immune system, after all, our microbiome is one of our best defences to disease and infection. When the bad bacteria have the rule of the roost, this can make a person more susceptible to serious infections. Another major contributor to the decreased life expectancy that comes with poor gut health is malnutrition – because our gut plays an important role in the absorption of nutrients in our food, an imbalance here can result in deficiencies in a number of essentials, leading to – you guessed it – a short life. You could be eating all your vitamins and minerals and meeting your caloric needs, and still be malnourished.
Excess sugar and your heart – a deadly combo
Excess sugar consumption increases your risk for life-shortening chronic diseases like liver disease, obesity and type 2 diabetes. We also know that it skyrockets our risk for high cholesterol, high blood pressure and heart disease – one of the biggest killers around the globe. It comes down to the increased risk of complications that can lead to premature death. Heart disease refers to a range of conditions that affect the heart and blood vessels, from coronary artery disease and heart failure to arrhythmias. In 2023, heart disease was responsible for 25% of all deaths in Australia in 2019. Yikes. Let’s take a look at some of the deadly elements of heart disease:
- Heart attacks: One of the most well-known manifestations of heart disease is the heart attack. The culprit for this cardiac event is blocked blood flow to the heart, often caused by a blood clot.
- Stroke: When the blood supply to the brain is disrupted, a stroke may occur – often as the result of a blocked blood vessel. Heart disease increases the chance of developing a stroke, which can be fatal in some cases, and cause long-term brain damage in other cases.
- Heart failure: This is where the heart is unable to pump blood effectively, leading to shortness of breath, fatigue and swelling in the legs. This condition can be fatal if not treated promptly.
With the average Aussie consuming 17 teaspoons of added sugar a day, many of us are at a high risk for developing chronic diseases – we also know that excess sugar consumption is believed to raise your risk for cognitive decline as a result of inflammation, along with high levels of type 2 diabetes in those on a high-sugar diet, which is another risk factor for dementia. Some studies show that high amounts of fructose can result in insulin resistance in the brain, which research shows may further contribute to the cognitive degeneration that affects Alzheimer’s patients. So, it’s clear that sugar leaves no stone unturned in its path of destruction.
If you’re concerned about managing your sugar habit, fear not – it’s never too late to get back on the right track with your health. We know how hard it can be to shake a sugar addiction off, and that’s why we’re here to help. Join us for the 8-Week Program. We’ll help you change the way you look at food – and that doesn’t mean you have to follow restrictive diets or miss out on your favourite foods; we believe you can still enjoy delicious food without jeopardising your health. With celebrity chef Sarah Glover on our panel of experts, you’ll have an array of fun recipes at your fingertips, along with our own exclusive armoury of simple, tasty and healthy recipes for everything from daily meals to impressive entertaining.
We know it can be hard to stick to your health goals – especially when you’re trying to manage it alone. When you sign up with us, you’ll have access to clear-cut meal plans, community support and exclusive access to our sugar-free content. Here’s what’s on offer:
- 8 weeks of meal plans and shopping lists.
- 90+ member-only recipes.
- Community forums to share your journey.
- Support and guidance from the I Quit Sugar team.
- Exclusive content from our panel of experts.
So, if you’re ready to ditch sugar and the host of maladies that come with it, it’s not too late to join. We’d love to help you get started on your health journey. Sign up HERE today!