Sugars are a type of simple carbohydrate found naturally in certain foods and beverages. They are also an additive in some foods and drinks. Excessive consumption of sugar can lead to health problems, such as increased risk of weight gain, diabetes, dental cavities, etc. Many healthy food products, such as dairy products, vegetables and fruits, naturally contain sugars. The sugar in these foods makes them taste sweeter. It is important to include these foods in your diet, as they come with a range of other nutrients that provide valuable health benefits. However, manufacturers tend to add sugar to foods such as cereals and cakes, as well as some drinks. It is these added sugars, or free sugars, that cause health problems. Unlike foods and beverages that naturally contain sugar, those with added sugar have no nutritional value. They are also a poor source of energy because the body digests added sugar very quickly. Excess consumption can lead to long-term health problems.
This article discusses five reasons why added sugars are bad for your health.
1. Lack of nutritional value
Sugar is an empty calorie. Adding it to foods and drinks dramatically increases their calorie content without providing any nutritional benefit. The body usually digests these foods and drinks quickly. This means that they are not a good source of energy. Products that naturally contain sugar are different. For example, fruits and dairy products contain natural sugars. The body digests these foods at a slower rate, making them a long-lasting source of energy. These products also tend to contain other nutrients. For example, they also contain fiber and a series of vitamins and minerals. The average adult in the West consumes about 308 calories from added sugars per day. This is much more than the recommendations which recommend 100 calories of added sugars for women and 150 calories for men. Consuming empty calories negates the health benefits of consuming other foods and beverages that have nutritional value. It can also cause imbalances, as nutrient deficits can lead to other health complications.
2. Weight gain
Weight gain is a significant risk of excessive consumption of dietary sugar. In most cases, sugary foods and drinks are high in calories. Excessive consumption of these products leads to weight gain, even with regular exercise. There is strong evidence showing that excess dietary sugar is a cause of weight gain. Since the body generally digests products with added sugars faster, they do not suppress hunger for very long. This can lead to eating more regularly throughout the day and higher overall calorie intake.
There is also some evidence to suggest that sugar may affect biological pathways that regulate hunger. Leptin is a hormone that regulates hunger by determining how much energy the body needs. Disruption of leptin function can lead to weight gain and obesity. A study conducted on rats found that a diet high in fat and sugar could lead to leptin resistance. Leptin resistance occurs when the body no longer responds properly to leptin. The study authors found that removing sugar from the diet reversed leptin resistance. Another 2014 study found that sugary drinks may be a particular problem for leptin resistance.
It is important to note that sugar alone does not cause weight gain and obesity. Sugar is one cause among others. Overweight or obesity is the result of a complex interaction between diet, physical activity, genetics, and social and environmental factors. However, limiting the amount of sugar in the diet is one of the easiest ways to prevent weight gain.
Drinking sodas or other sugary drinks can increase the risk of developing diabetes. There is a link between the consumption of sugary drinks and the development of type 2 diabetes.
It is not true that sugar alone causes diabetes. Any high calorie diet can lead to type 2 diabetes. However, in most cases, high sugar diets are high in calories. This can increase the risk of diabetes.
Sugary drinks are particularly problematic. A meta-analysis of data from 310,819 people found that people with high consumption of sugary drinks had a 26% higher risk of type 2 diabetes than people with low consumption. The study defined “high consumption” as between one and two sugary drinks per day.
4. Dental caries
Consuming sugar can cause tooth decay, which can lead to cavities. After eating sugar, bacteria in the mouth form a thin layer of dental plaque on the teeth. These bacteria react with sugars in food and drink. This reaction triggers the release of an acid that damages the teeth. It is possible for the body to repair some of this damage on its own. However, over time, a diet high in sugar causes lasting damage. This can lead to dental caries. Cavities are permeable holes that form on the teeth.
Limiting the consumption of foods high in sugar is an effective way to prevent cavities.
5. Heart disease
Diets high in sugar may increase the risk of heart disease. Results of a 15-year study suggest that people whose diets contain a lot of added sugar are significantly more likely to die of heart disease than people whose diets contain little added sugar. Again, research suggests that sugary drinks may be particularly problematic for increasing the risk of heart disease. This association could be explained by the fact that sugary drinks are high in calories, have no effect on hunger and provide an insufficient amount of energy. Although there is a clear link, more research will be needed to better understand the relationship between sugar and heart disease.
How to recognize hidden sugar
Added sugars can appear in many surprising products. Checking the contents of foods before buying them is one way to avoid added sugars. However, on some food labels it is difficult to tell if they contain added sugar, as there are many different names for it.
Here are some examples of other names for added sugar:
high fructose corn syrup
evaporated cane juice
To maintain a healthy diet, it is best for men to consume no more than 36 grams (g) of added sugar per day, and for women to consume no more than 25 g per day.
This is the recommendation of the reliable source AHAT. Currently, the average person in the United States consumes far more than these limits.
Sugar is not unhealthy in itself. However, consuming a natural source of sugar is healthier than consuming added sugars. Too much sugar in the diet can cause a range of conditions, including heart disease, weight gain and diabetes. To be aware of added sugars in food products, it is important to read labels carefully.