The Dangers of Sugar in Human Diet
Did you know?
Sugar is everywhere...
Sugar is a type of carbohydrate that is found naturally in some foods, such as fruits and vegetables, and is added to others, such as processed foods and beverages.
While our bodies need carbohydrates for energy, consuming too much sugar can have negative effects on our health.
Excess sugar consumption has been linked to a variety of health problems, including obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and tooth decay. The American Heart Association recommends limiting added sugars to no more than 6 teaspoons per day for women and 9 teaspoons per day for men.
One of the primary ways in which sugar can be harmful is through its effect on our weight.
Consuming large amounts of sugary foods and drinks can lead to weight gain, as sugar contains calories but provides little nutritional value.
Over time, this can increase the risk of obesity, which is a major risk factor for a number of chronic diseases.
In addition to its effects on weight, sugar can also have negative effects on our blood sugar levels.
When we consume foods that are high in sugar, our blood sugar levels spike, which can lead to a crash later on.
Over time, this can lead to insulin resistance, which is a key risk factor for type 2 diabetes. Sugar can also be harmful to our cardiovascular health. Consuming large amounts of sugary foods and drinks can increase the risk of heart disease, as it can lead to an increase in blood pressure and inflammation.
Finally, sugar can be harmful to our dental health. When we consume sugary foods and drinks, the bacteria in our mouths feed on the sugar and produce acid, which can erode the enamel on our teeth and lead to tooth decay.
Overall, it is important to be mindful of our sugar consumption and to limit our intake of sugary foods and drinks. By doing so, we can help to protect our health and reduce our risk of a variety of chronic diseases.
What can I do to reduce sugar intake?
Choose whole foods: Eating whole foods, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins, can help to reduce sugar intake. These foods are naturally low in sugar and provide important nutrients that our bodies need.
Read labels: When buying packaged foods, read the labels to look for added sugars. Ingredients like corn syrup, high-fructose corn syrup, and cane sugar are all forms of added sugars.
Drink water or low-sugar beverages: Instead of sugary drinks like soda, sports drinks, and energy drinks, opt for water, sparkling water, or low-sugar beverages like unsweetened tea or coffee.
Use natural sweeteners: If you want to sweeten your food or drinks, try using natural sweeteners like honey, maple syrup, or stevia instead of refined sugar.
Limit processed foods: Processed foods like candy, baked goods, and snacks are often high in added sugars. Try to limit your consumption of these foods and opt for healthier snacks like fresh fruit or raw vegetables.
Be mindful of portion sizes: Even foods that are naturally high in sugar, like fruit, can contribute to overconsumption of sugar if eaten in large quantities. Be mindful of portion sizes and try to balance your intake of sweet foods with other nutrient-rich foods.
By making small changes to your diet, you can reduce your sugar intake and improve your overall health. It's important to remember that moderation is key, and it's okay to indulge in sweet treats occasionally as part of a balanced diet.
American Heart Association. (2021). Added Sugars. https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/healthy-eating/eat-smart/sugar/
added-sugars Harvard School of Public Health. (2020).
The Sweet Danger of Sugar. https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/healthy-drinks/sugary-drinks/
Mayo Clinic. (2021).
Added sugar: Don't get sabotaged by sweeteners. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/added-sugar/art-20045328
Why is sugar bad for you? https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/eat-well/why-is-sugar-bad-for-me/
World Health Organization. (2015).
Sugars intake for adults and children. https://www.who.int/publications/i/item/9789241549028
Here are some additional resources that you may find helpful:
The Science of Sugar Addiction: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/sugar-addiction
The Effects of Sugar on the Brain: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/brain-babble/201301/the-effects-sugar-the-brain