7 Negative Effects Sugar Has on Your Body
Sugar may be sweet but can leave you with sour consequences.
Sugar is like an old nostalgic flame. It sneaks into your life promising a sweet fix, but leaves you feeling crummy. And yet, we always go back for more.
Hey, I’ve been there …over and over again.
Don’t get me wrong, sugar isn’t all bad. We need it as a natural energy source to get us through the day. These helpful sugars are found in vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and dairy.
But, sugar takes a turn for the worse when you get your supply from cakes, cookies, ice cream… you know, the good stuff. These are added sugars – sugars not in their natural unprocessed form. Sugar is an empty calorie. It serves no nutritional value and an overconsumption can have negative effects on the body.
I wanted to share with you a few side effects from eating too much sugar. Quitting sugar is a lifestyle change, and could be a lifesaver.
Sugar side effects. Quitting sugar is a lifestyle change, and could be a lifesaver.
Products high in sugar are high in calories, which leads to weight gain. No-brainer right? Your body is able to digest added sugars quickly. But it’s counterproductive since you won't stay full for very long. Leading to a higher calorie intake, sugar also has a sneaky way of storing itself as fat. It never was a fun contrast of how fast the cookies disappeared from the package vs. how long they stayed on my hips.
Our dentist tried to tell us, but did we listen? No. Did we enjoy our new cool toothbrush though? Um yeah. Bacteria in our mouths form a thin layer of plaque over the teeth. Gross. The bacteria then react with the sugars and trigger the release of a teeth damaging acid. That ice cream sundae with the cherry on top isn’t looking so cheery anymore is it?
3 Heart disease
Chocolate usually is the quickest way to a woman’s heart. But too bad it's not just figuratively. A 15-year study suggested that people with higher sugar consumption had an increased chance of dying from heart disease.
Coffee drinker? A simple first step to heart health is as easy as switching your sugar-filled coffee for one sweetened with a natural zero calorie sweetener. Brands such as King’s Jamaican Coffee use Stevia versus added sugars. One small change a day can add up to big results.
We, and our kids, know it well. After eating a bowl of ice cream topped with hot fudge we somehow morph into the Flash. Thirty minutes later we come crashing down, leaving us feeling more like the Blob slugging around town. Too much sugar restricts the production of Orexin, a chemical in your human brain that helps you stay awake. Isaac Newton knew the drill, “What comes up, must come down.”
5. Brain Fog
The sprinkled donut you grabbed on the way to your board meeting is doing your focus factor more harm than good. Brain fog comes when your sugar levels spike and plummet. This can damage the neurons and disconnect the neurotransmitters in your brain. Grab an apple and gain some clarity, my friend. Oh, and go crush that board meeting.
6. Weakened Immune System
“Don’t eat too much sugar or you’ll get sick.” Pediatricians, grandmothers, and parents have reminded us our entire lives. Hate to say it, but they were right. The temptation of a creamy rich cup of hot cocoa is a tough one to pass up, I’m right with you. But it may not be worth letting your white blood cells take the hit from increased glucose levels. Bacteria feed on sugar, making you more susceptible to infections. If you need a sweet chocolatey indulgence without the added sugars, give a sugar-free cocoa mix a try. You still get a treat without the stuffy nose.
Time is a thief. Don’t let sugar be one too. Sugar has a weird super villain-type power of attaching itself to the proteins in your bloodstream. In turn, your skin loses its elasticity and leads to premature aging. Dr. Andrew Nish explains, “If you put a banana out on the counter and unpeel it, what happens in 24-48 hours? It gets brown. What’s happening is the sugars in that banana are reacting with proteins, causing cross-linking and the brown color (browning reaction). The exact same reaction is happening in our bodies. We’re browning from the inside out.” Spiderman, you can come save the day anytime...
Sugar loves inflammation as much as you love fresh baked gooey brownies. Inflammatory chemicals are released into your body after eating sugar. Over time this can lead to chronic inflammation, liver damage, and liver enlargement. Your weakened liver can’t filter out toxins, leaving them free to circulate in your body. When your liver is compromised your cells, tissues, and organs are too.
The list goes on my friend. Sugar may seem sweet, but it’s doing us more harm than good in the long run.
If you’re still with me I assume you’re considering dropping sugar or at least cutting back. Take a moment to congratulate yourself. *Cue celebratory dance*
So how can you prevent this sugar induced mayhem in your body?
I’d love to tell you dropping sugar is as easy as ditching last season's jeans. But there is no real way to escape the added sugars in your daily diet, unless you only eat unprocessed whole foods.
But you can be on the lookout for added sugars in your foods and the aliases they like to go by.
Sidenote: almost anything ending in “ose” is a part of the sugar family.
- Agave nectar
- Corn sweetener
- Crystalline fructose
- Evaporated cane juice
- High-fructose corn syrup
You know what they say, “Fruit is nature’s candy.” As someone who has been off sugar for over 5 years, I can confirm this crazy theory. As you drop sugar from your life, natural sugars will begin to actually taste sweeter. Before you know it, a crisp apple will taste as sweet as a chewy chocolate chip cookie. Okay, maybe not that sweet, but you get the idea. By switching to natural sweeteners and decreasing your carb intake, you’re taking your health back into your own hands. Pretty empowering stuff!
Great sugar alternatives which are natural, contain zero calories, and taste great are:
- Monk fruit
There are other sugar alternatives such as organic maple syrup, raw honey and coconut sugar. But they mimik sugar by causing a spike in your insulin levels. I’d stay clear of them for good measure.
Leaving sugar behind.
Small disclaimer: sugar is addictive.
Quitting sugar is not something I’d tell you to drop cold turkey. By doing so, your chances are higher to throw your body into detox mode, AKA the Herxheimer reaction. It’s like the “keto flu”. You may feel irritable, tired, weak, or even achy. Changing your habits over time extends the healing process. But it will allow your body to adapt without sending it into shock.
A little perspective before we part ways. Sweetened coffee drinks contain more than half of the recommended daily dose of sugar. For instance, a typical latte has around 47 grams of sugar. The daily recommended dose is only 50 grams. Switching to a coffee that uses a natural zero calorie sweetener that’s safe such as King’s Jamaican coffee allows you to enjoy your favorite drink on the go without the guilt of 12 heaping teaspoons of sugar.
Trading your iced macchiato for a sugar-free alternative may be hard at first, but your body will thank you.
Nowadays our shelves are stocked with sugar-free options, which aren't half bad. I’ve been out in the sugar-free world for years and I can promise you the ice cream and cookies are quite tasty.. And let's not forget about the unlimited recipes we can find on Pinterest and our good friend, Google.
What a time to be alive!
Keep in mind that giving up sugar can be as hard as quitting cigarettes. So be patient with yourself. And I'm no doctor, but if you’re smoking, go ahead and drop that, too.
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