Sugar enhances the taste of the foods and drinks that we consume daily. Besides, it’s an essential source of energy for the cells in your body. But, regardless of the amount of energy or sweetness you need, excess consumption of sugar is unhealthy for your body. But how much is too much?
Studies show that the average American consumes around 22 tablespoons of “added sugar” per day. This amount is almost four times above the recommended six tablespoons per day. Although there is a lot to blame for this, the consumer takes a huge amount of the blame. After reading this, you’ll be a step closer to understanding why too much sugar is dangerous.
What You Need to Know About Sugar
Sugar is a type of carbohydrate — a sweet substance obtained mainly from plants and dairy products. When consumed, the body breaks it down to glucose for various metabolic processes. And since sugar is a generic name, it can be classified as either simple or complex. Without getting into the biochemistry of sugar, just know: the digestion and absorption rate by your body differentiates the two types.
People digest and absorb simple sugars easily and quickly. Complex sugars take much longer. Still, the simplicity or complexity of these sugars depends on the number of nutrients each contains. The simpler the sugar, the fewer nutrients there are and vice versa. These sugars come from many sources, for instance, fruits and whole grains.
Types of Sugars – Natural and Refined Sugar
If you’re wondering what we mean by “added sugar,” this will answer your question. Natural refers to the sugar found in fruits (fructose and glucose) and dairy products (lactose). Natural sugars are particularly complex and beneficial for the body.
On the other hand, refined sugar comes from corn, sugar beets, or canes. The sugar from these sources is extracted using machinery and chemical processes. Refined sugar, otherwise called sucrose, forms the largest source of commercial sugar. Other names of refined sugar are free or added sugar.
Does the Body Produce Its Own Sugar?
Yes. Glucose can also be produced by the body from glycogen, which is basically preserved glucose. When the body is resting or fully energized, it stores excess glucose in the liver for later use. Therefore, whenever the energy is depleted, a metabolic process converts the stored energy into glucose. Similarly, the body can produce sugar from non-sugar compounds and keep your body fueled. Non-carbohydrates like amino acids, lactate, and glycerol are broken down to form glucose through a series of reactions.
How Your Body Reacts to Sugars
Fructose, sucrose, glucose, and lactose have different functions in the body. As such, when there is an imbalance in their quantities, the body reacts in response. Your body will have a different reaction based on different factors, including DNA, body mass index (BMI), health condition, blood sugar levels, age, and gender.
Intake of sugar affects prevailing conditions like lactose intolerance and diabetes in the body. The effects are either positive or negative based on the type of sugar. For instance, fructose lowers the release of insulin, a hormone that is essential for regulating blood sugar levels. Large amounts of fructose will lead to fat accumulation and eventually weight gain. Conversely, sugars like glucose are essential, but also when taken moderately.
Negative Effects of Sugar on Your Body
Let’s be real; even though your body cells require large amounts of energy, it doesn’t validate your consumption of an entire box of doughnuts or candy bars for energy. The added sugars in these foods increase calories in your blood instead. If they’re consumed without moderation, these calories will harm your body.
A common outcome of eating too many calories is unhealthy weight gain or obesity. For your body to balance its fat level, it has to burn as many calories as it’s obtaining. This balance is established with regular body activity along with calorie intake for replacement. Obesity boosts the risk of developing other problems, such as diabetes and heart attack.
Sugar and Your Brain
No other organ in the body consumes as much energy as the brain. However, too much sugar also affects the brain’s activity. Primarily, excess sugar affects your cognitive health. Specifically, research showed that high sugar content in the blood leads to inflammation in the brain, affecting memory detention. Other mental capacities affected by excess sugar include learning and motor speed.
Sugar has also been shown to affect mood. Mental conditions like anxiety and depression are prevalent in people suffering from sugar-related conditions like diabetes. Equally, high sugar intake was found to increase the likelihood of depression. This is another reason you need to limit sugar intake.
Here Is Your Takeaway about Sugars
We started by saying that sugar tastes great and is essential for the body. Our opinion stands unchanged. But to add to that, your lifestyle habits have a role to play for sugar to be beneficial. Sugar will always find a way in your diet, whether by choice or accident. To be on the safe side, you need to know what amount of essential sugar is just enough for you. Also, you need to know which dangerous sugars to avoid. Are you still confused about how to start? Well, the best place to begin is getting a doctor’s advice tailored to your body type, age, and lifestyle.
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