When we speak about sugar, the pleasure part of our brain lights up. It gives us images of the foods we crave because of the pleasure they bring. No, we don’t make this up. Scientists say there’s a strong link between sugar and addiction. Eating sugary food stimulates the reward center of the brain through an increase of dopamine.
The more you eat sugary food, the higher the dopamine signals, which increases your pleasure levels. Only that too much sugar consumption can weaken the dopamine signals, making you crave for more sugar to maintain the level of pleasure, which will eventually lead to addiction. This is why controlling sugar intake can be difficult for others.
Numerous studies have pointed out the harmful effects of sugar on the body. But consumers seem to ignore this reality. In fact, the average American consumes 5 more teaspoons than the recommended daily allowance, making the country the highest-ranking sugar consumer in the world. One study reveals that an average of 75 percent of packaged foods is laden with added sugar.
The following are the ways sugar can ruin your health:
1. Increases risks of cardiovascular diseases
While cholesterol levels are often associated with bad fats, less is known about sugar’s direct effect on the body’s cholesterol. According to research, sugar consumption increases several markers for cardiovascular disease. People who consumed more sugar have lower good cholesterol, which functions to carry the extra bad cholesterol to the liver, and higher triglycerides levels, a type of fat that moves around the cardiovascular system and threatens to cause arterial wall damage. Both of these factors are found to increase the likelihood of heart diseases.
2. Increases weight gain
Obesity is on the rise and health experts attributed the cause to increased sugar consumption. Sugary beverages like sodas, juices, and teas are loaded with fructose, a type of sugar that is likely to increase your feelings of hunger and food cravings. Eating more than what your body needs can lead to excess weight. Additionally, drinking sweetened liquids more often can lead you to have an increased amount of visceral fat around your belly. This condition is linked to underlying health conditions like diabetes and heart disease.
3. Increases chances of developing acne
Foods loaded with too much sugar naturally spikes your blood sugar and insulin levels. This can increase androgen secretion, oil production, and skin inflammation, leading to the development of acne.
4. Slows down memory and cognition
Sugar is harmful to the brain scientists say. The addiction one can get from too much sugar consumption can have intense effects more than cocaine does. Elevated glucose in the bloodstream can result in inflammation in the brain, which can slow down cognitive function and contribute to memory loss. Luckily, the damage caused by the overconsumption of sugar isn’t permanent and can be reversed. One study recommends eating foods with low sugar content, omega 3 fatty acids, and curcumin can increase your working memory.
5. Increases cancer risk
Developing certain risks of cancer is possible when you consume too many sugary foods. It’s because the extra fats you gain from eating too much can lead to certain types of cancer. Moreover, high sugar diets can cause inflammation in the body leading to insulin resistance, which increases the risk for cancers.
6. Increases depression risk
Researchers found a link between sugar consumption and depression. A brain imaging study revealed that a person’s ability to process emotion is compromised with the presence of elevated blood glucose. Another study confirmed that elevated blood sugar can increase feelings of sadness and anxiety. Participants diagnosed with mental disorders were also found to consume more sugars.
7. Increases premature cellular aging
As a person ages, the telomeres that act as protective caps at the end of chromosomes deteriorate slowly. These telomeres continue to shorten as the person gets older and cause cells to age as well. However, this process can speed up with unhealthy lifestyle choices, like too much sugar consumption.
8. Decreases energy
While sugar is believed to improve a person’s energy levels, the result isn’t lasting. In fact, a sharp drop or crash is soon to follow. This happens when the food you eat is loaded with sugar alone with no protein, fiber, and good fats. That’s why it’s important to pair carbs with fiber for a healthy energy boost.
9. Increases diabetes risk
Since obesity is linked with overconsumption of sugar, it’s found to be the strongest factor for diabetes. Prolonged sugar consumption can lead to insulin resistance, which increases blood sugar levels leading to diabetes.
10. Accelerates skin aging process
Skin aging is a normal process we all go through. But a diet rich in sugar can speed up this process. A combination of sugar and protein can lead to the production of advanced glycation end products or AGEs, which play a role in speeding up the aging process. The presence of AGEs causes significant damage to collagen and elastin. These are proteins that help with the skin’s elasticity and glowing appearance. Once these proteins are damaged, the skin starts to wrinkle. Researchers recommend a low carb intake to achieve a youthful appearance.
Ways to Manage Sugar Addiction
The fight to stop sugar addiction might take a longer process, but you can make it a bit easier by following the tips below:
Reduce your sugar intake
Sugar is not all that bad as long as you consume it in moderation. It’s safe to take a maximum of 25 grams a day from all sources. Those with insulin resistance are advised to limit their sugar intake to at least 15 grams a day.
Quit using high fructose corn syrup
This type of sweetener has been associated with some serious health conditions. A lot of commercial products contain higher levels of fructose. Read labels when shopping to avoid buying this unhealthy stuff.
Increase good fats consumption
Healthy fats include omega 3 fatty acids, saturated fats, and monounsaturated fats. These fuels are much friendly to the body. You can get them from coconut oil, nuts, avocados, and fatty fish.
Drink pure water
If you need to hydrate yourself, pure water is the best option.
Eat fermented foods
You can reduce the negative effects of sugar by eating more fermented foods like kimchi, natto, organic yogurt, and kefir.