In my previous article, I spoke about the different types of carbs. You might want to read that first as it will allow you to better understand what “sugar” truly is and how much is needed in your daily nutrition.
In this article, we will focus on the dangers of sugar and discuss healthier alternatives.
Table of Contents
What is a Sugar?
Here is the obvious question. What is a sugar? A sugar is a simple carbohydrate. It is found in all fruits, even in milk but it comes in different forms.
Usually sugars are found in nature in a complete package that also contain enzymes, vitamins, minerals and fiber which help in slowing your digestion down enough for your body to extract and use all the nutrients and energy from that sugar or food.
Is sugar dangerous?
Natural occurring sugars are not dangerous and are in fact healthy (honey and fruits are 2 healthy examples).
Refined sugars, on the other hand, are a completely different beast. Sugars have different names in the multi billion dollar food industry and can be found in virtually every processed product. ‘Sugar’ is in fact a simple carb but without any of the vitamins, minerals and fiber. It is also in a much concentrated form which tends to bring out the sweetness in the product and in high amounts, can cause several health problems.
The Health Dangers of Sugar
Here’s a small list of the dangers of sugar that you should be aware of:
Sugar can cause severe hormonal imbalances in the body causing insulin resistance, leptin resistance, low testosterone levels, low melatonin and low Growth Hormone.
In order to be healthy, our hormones should be at specific levels. Let’s take 4 hormones: insulin, leptin (responsible for sending the signal to stop eating in the brain), growth Hormone and melatonin (responsible for proper sleep, rest, restoration and in turn anti-aging).
If all 4 of them are at a Level A and all of a sudden insulin jumps to a higher Level B and stays there for a long time, this will influence the other 3 hormones in a variety of ways. For example high levels of insulin will override leptin thus making it less sensitive. Also, when insulin is high, it switches off growth hormone production as mentioned in this study.
Sugar can mess with your dopamine levels as it is highly addictive according to this study. In fact, it is 10 times more addictive than cocaine as explained in this article. I don’t have to list the dangers of cocaine, do I?
Insulin resistance and diabetes
High consumption of sugar can lead to insulin resistance which causes obesity and diabetes (type 1 and 2) in both adults and children.
As I mentioned earlier, the industry’s focus on sugar-filled processed products is taste rather than nutrition. So without the added fiber and nutrients, the sugars in your body create a high insulin spike.
This insulin spike will drive nutrients (in this case sugars) into the mitochondria cells (for example, to replenish glycogen in the muscles). Insulin is also responsible for releasing glucose into the bloodstream to be used as fuel by your body.
However, when your blood is full of glucose, its conversion to energy is hindered (the body cannot use all that glucose), so our blood sugar levels rise which eventually leads to diabetes.
THe Dangerous GMO factor
Most sugar products come from G.M.O (Genetically Mutated) sources which are responsible for the rise of cancer in humans in the last few decades (article).
Sugar can cause tooth decay and a lot of other dental problems (such as periodontitis) by assisting the growth of bacteria (the bad kind) in your mouth (study).
Inflammation and cancer
Constant (and high) sugar consumption will make your body unable to efficiently extract energy from foods which will lead to inflammation (study). High inflammation levels are linked with cancer, brain degeneration and joint problems (study).
Certain types of sugar such as high fructose corn syrup can impair liver functionality.
Fructose is metabolized in the liver and then stored there as glycogen. When this glycogen storage is full, any excess glycogen converts into fat. This is what happens with normal fructose.
To better understand the potency of high fructose corn syrup, think of it as fructose on steroids. It takes only a small portion to fill up the glycogen storage in the liver and anything else will be converted to fat.
Consuming this type of sugar for long periods of time will push the liver to the point of breakdown as mentioned in this study (https://diabetes.diabetesjournals.org/content/54/7/1907.short).
Sugars lead to high insulin levels. High insulin levels cause low growth hormone production. Growth hormone is also known as the fountain of youth.
So theoretically lower G.H production can lead to premature aging.
High sugar consumption can raise uric acid and LDL cholesterol levels as shown in this study (https://circ.ahajournals.org/content/106/4/523.full).
High uric acid levels can cause gout while high LDL cholesterol levels will lead to heart disease (study (http://circ.ahajournals.org/content/123/3/249.short)).
These are just a few of the many dangers linked with processed types of sugar. If you want to stay healthy, it is essential to understand the difference between good and bad sugars and to make sure you stay away from the bad ones.
Do you consume processed sugar on a regular basis? Have you tried taking a break from white (or refined) sugars? What happened when you did? Let me know by leaving a comment below.
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Also if you have any comments or questions, feel free to leave a comment and I will get back to you as soon as possible. Thanks!
by Nick Sigma
CWC, EH, E-YRT200
Sources and Studies:
- Andrew B Barron, Ryszard Maleszka, Paul G Helliwell, Gene E Robinson. Effects of cocaine on honey bee dance behaviour. J Exp Biol. 2009 Jan;212(Pt 2):163-8. PMID: 19112134
- Magalie Lenoir, Fuschia Serre, Lauriane Cantin, Serge H Ahmed. Intense sweetness surpasses cocaine reward. PLoS One. 2007 ;2(8):e698. Epub 2007 Aug 1. PMID: 17668074