Although it has a sweet taste, it also has a bittersweet reputation when it comes to health.
There has often been a debate on how sugar affects your body and which sugar is the right one to be consumed. We all want to know what the right answer is. So let’s start by understanding what sugar actually is.
What is sugar?
Sugar is a carbohydrate so it naturally occurs in foods like fruits, vegetables, grains, and dairy. Consuming whole foods that naturally contain sugar is considered healthy as the foods contain high amounts of fiber, protein, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. This naturally occurring sugar supplies energy to the cells of your body. Intake of such foods has also shown a decrease in risk of heart diseases and diabetes.
This being said, the refined sugar that we use and added sugar that we get in our packaged food is a different story. Refined sugar is obtained by extracting natural sugar from sugar canes or sugar beets. These sugars are added to nutrient-poor and processed foods which are generally considered harmful for health when eaten in excess.
How does it affect the body?
There’s enough proof that a high-sugar diet can be risky for health. Studies have shown that too much added sugar has been linked to increased risk of high blood pressure, high cholesterol, obesity, type 2 diabetes, and heart diseases. Cutting back on sugar may not only prove beneficial for your health but also save you money, as the above-mentioned diseases are associated with high medical bills.
This doesn’t mean that all sugar is bad. But the sugars found in packaged foods are not the same as those in an apple.
Here are a few effects that added and refined sugars can have on your body:
- Can lead to increase in weight -
The processed sugars cause an effect of increased hunger and desire for food.
- May contribute to heart diseases -
Increased blood sugar can lead to heart diseases.
- May lead to diabetes -
Insulin resistance causes glucose levels to rise and strongly increases your risk of diabetes.
- May lead to skin aging -
High sugar consumption damage collagen and elastin, which are proteins that help your skin look young
- May lead to energy drain -
Processed foods that contain sugar but lack other nutrients may lead to a brief energy spike which is followed by a drop in blood sugar levels, therefore, causing energy drain.
- May cause acne -
Sugary foods cause an increased oil production which leads to acne.
Is it still wise to consume sugar?
It's hard to say since sugar is not a necessary nutrient to include in your diet. But moderate consumption of any food may decrease the risks of harm to health. It is also suggested that men should consume no more than 150 calories (about 9 teaspoons) and women no more than 100 calories per day (about 6 teaspoons) of added sugar per day.
Eating excess of added sugar can have many negative health effects. An excess of sweetened foods and beverages can lead to the above-mentioned effects, among other dangerous conditions. For these reasons, added sugar should be kept to a minimum whenever possible, which is easier when you try and follow a healthy diet based on whole foods.
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