11 ways sugar messes with your health

By Jo |

Photo by: [image via]

The effects of sugar on the body may not always be instant and visible. Below is a list of ways sugar wreaks havoc on our insides. Prepare to become just a little concerned…

  • 1. Sugar is addictive. 

Moderation is key, right? Impossible in the case of sugar. Two major studies have shown sugar to be as addictive as cocaine. Can you eat just one Tim Tam ? Animal studies have shown fructose causes the four criteria of addiction: binging, withdrawal, craving and sensitisation to other addictive substances (meaning after chronic exposure to sugar, it’s easier to get hooked on other drugs). Here’s some more on the science.

  • 2. Sugar feeds cancer.

Sugar has been connected with the development of cancer of the breast, ovaries, prostate, rectum, pancreas, lung, gallbladder and stomach.

  • 3. Sugar suppresses your immune system.

It weakens your defences against viruses and infectious disease by inhibiting the action of white blood cells so they are unable to “fight” against foreign invaders. Sugar also messes with the balance of your gut flora, which modulates your immune health and overall wellbeing.

  • 4. Sugar contributes to the development and progression of diabetes.

New research is suggesting it is linked to Dementia and Alzeimers disease, which is being dubbed “Type 3 Diabetes”. Often touted as “safer” for diabetics as it does not raise insulin levels as much as glucose, fructose actually reduces the ability of insulin to do its job of getting glucose into the cell, where it is needed. This is termed “insulin resistance” and is a key marker of diabetes. If glucose is left hanging around in the blood, all sorts of problems can occur. This is called “hyperglycaemia” (high blood sugar) and long term can cause damage to kidneys, nerves, heart, eyes and feet.

And inflammation is now widely acknowledged as being at the root of many diseases.

  • 6. Sugar leads to weight gain and abdominal obesity AKA “beer belly”.

We may joke about the beer belly in our society, but this kind of fat is the most dangerous and is linked to an increased risk of heart disease, diabetes and cancer. While glucose is recognised and compensated for by the hormone insulin (an appetite-control hormone) fructose is not. Fructose is metabolised in the liver to “palmitic acid” which then can travel to the brain and suppress leptin activity. Leptin is your satiety hormone which says “I’m full” when you have eaten an appropriate amount of food. No leptin – no satiety, which is why you can gorge yourself so much on fructose-rich foods.

  • 7. Sugar contributes to behavioural problems in kids.

Sugar can cause a rapid rise of adrenaline, leaving children unable to focus, hyperactive, exhausted and grumpy.

  • 8. Sugar increases the acidity of your body.

Sugar can result in an acidic digestive tract, indigestion and malabsorption, resulting in us being over-fed, yet undernourished.

  • 9. Sugar upsets the mineral balance in your body.

Causing chromium and copper deficiencies and interfering with absorption of calcium, iron and magnesium. Copper is required for the formation of collagen and elastin. Collagen and elastin hold the body together. No collagen and elastin = mushy, malfunctioning body. Copper deficiency can also lead to bone weakness, anaemia, bone and artery defects and infertility. By interfering with the heart’s use of magnesium, copper and chromium, along with increasing triglycerides in the blood, fructose can increase the risk of irregular heart function and heart attacks.

  • 10. Sugar speeds up the ageing process.

And encourages wrinkles! Sugar consumption produces “advanced glycation end products” (AGEs) – free radicals that promote oxidative damage and break down collagen (necessary for skin elasticity and suppleness) leading to more wrinkles at a younger age.

  • 11. Sugar causes mood swings. 

The ingestion of sugar has been known to lead to a rapid rise of adrenaline, hyperactivity, anxiety, difficulty concentrating, and crankiness.

For the full list of 141 (and counting) ways sugar messes with your health take a look at American nutritionist Nancy Appleton’s website.

And for more of the science behind these findings here.

Just wondering, which of these really worries you right now?

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