Everyone knows about the dangers of sugar consumption, but most people don't realize just how much sugar they are ingesting in their diets every single day. While a simple stroll through your local grocery store will reveal that sugar is prevalent in nearly all food items, it is important to know that sugar has no nutritional value. Sugar is devoid of nutrients but very high in calories. A teaspoon of sugar (4g) contains 16 calories. This may not seem like a lot, but consider that a 60g candy bar, a 0,3l soda, and a one-cup serving of ice cream typically contain 10 or more teaspoons of sugar.
Sucrose is the most common sugar found in our diets. It is produced from sugar cane or sugar beets through a refining process that strips out all of its vitamins, minerals, protein, enzymes, and other nutrients. Since sucrose is devoid of all nutrition, our bodies must "borrow" the missing vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients from our own tissues in order for it to be metabolized. The effects of sugar on your health are therefore the siphoning away of vital nutrients from other parts of our body. As an example, sugar leaches away the calcium from within our teeth causing tooth decay. Also, it plays a major role in heart disease since it depletes the body potassium and magnesium, which are required for cardiac function. Other of the many problems of sugar are its addictive effects and its impact on our immune system.
Sugar is Addictive
Ever have sugar cravings? A term that most people wouldn't associate with anything meaningful actually reveals one of the true dangers of sugar. Sugar has addictive properties that can be compared to nicotine or heroin, just with different degrees of addiction.
The effects of sugar on health occurs because sugar interacts with your brain causing it to release opioid, which give the body a feeling of pleasure. Sugar withdrawals can make you experience fatigue, lassitude, depression, moodiness, headaches, and aching limbs.
Sugar Dampens the Immune System
Eating that cinnamon roll can do more to your body than add few extra pounds. Another danger of sugar is the compromising of your immune system by destroying the germ-killing ability of white blood cells for up to five hours after ingestion. It also reduces the production of antibodies in your body. Moreover, it also interferes with the transport of Vitamin C and causes mineral imbalance, both of which weaken the immune system. As you consume more sugar, your blood sugar level rises. This triggers your pancreas into producing insulin to help clean your cells of this excess sugar. As your blood sugar levels return to normal, so does the amount of insulin in your body. However, when you eat a lot of sugar it takes more and more insulin to normalize your blood sugar levels. This over time may cause the pancreas to stop responding to the sugar and halt insulin production all together. This is known as type 1 diabetes.
So should you completely cut all sugar from your diet? For people who are not overweight or do not have other risk factors for heart disease or diabetes, such a thing isn't entirely necessary. The occasional sugary snack isn't going to result in immune system collapse or heart failure. The one thing you should take away from this post is "moderation". One cookie every now and then is fine, but that extra large soda you get from your favorite fast food restaurant won't do your body any favors.
So how much is considered appropriate? The World Health Organization recommends that you should keep your sugar intake to no more than 10% of your total calories, or 50g of sugar for most people. Anymore than that and the effects of sugar on your health will start to compound and may get out of control.
So just remember, "moderation"!