What if I told you that high sugar diet –
- Is as addictive as heroin?
- Is a cause for many chronic diseases?
- Causes damage to vital organs of your body?
Will you still eat it?
Will you give it to your children?
Your instant and obvious reaction to this question will be a screaming – NO.
But this is exactly what we are all doing.
For many, a day won’t start without a hot cup of tea or coffee laden with sugar.
You are giving sugar to your children in the form of ice-cream, chocolate, cold drink, bread, biscuits and many more.
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Composition of Sugar
When I say sugar, it means sucrose, commonly known as table sugar. A sugar molecule is a disaccharide composed of 50% glucose and 50% fructose. Both glucose and fructose are types of monosaccharides or simple sugars.
Sugar is a white poison. It affects every part of your body. You cannot afford to be ignorant about its effects. Especially not when it affects 7 major organs of your body.
1. Too much sugar damages your brain in multiple ways
The brain is arguably the most important organ of your body. It is the highest energy-consuming organ. The energy coming from the food has a great influence on the functioning of our brain. Poor food choices not only reduces its efficiency but also leaves a damaging impact on the brain.
High sugar in your diet tops the list of poor food choices. It can affect your brain in the following ways –
Addiction – Sugar can create addiction as strong as cocaine, by triggering the same reward centres as cocaine does. Like an addict, sugar can make you lose self-control by creating an intense craving for it.
Depression – A study showed that a high amount of added sugar in the diet can increase the chances of depression by 23%. Another study showed that cutting back on sugar tends to reduce the chances of depression.
Cognitive function – When there is an inflow of sugar, it can affect the nerve signalling in your brain. This can cause poor cognitive functions.
Low Memory – Sugar also reduces the BDNF (Brain-derived Neurotrophic Factor) that is responsible for creating new brain cells. This can reduce your brain’s ability to store new information, resulting in poor memory.
2. High sugar diet can give you a heart attack
Heart diseases in India are on the rise and it’s becoming a matter of serious concern. A 2016 study published in The Lancet showed that death due to heart diseases in India has increased from 15% in 1990 to 28% in 2016.
Nutrition plays a key role in determining whether you are keeping your heart safe or exposing it to the risk of heart problems.
Sugar can become a cause of heart diseases in many different ways. A high sugar diet can make you fat. It can raise your triglyceride levels, inflammation, and blood pressure. These are all strong risk factors for heart diseases.
A 15 years long study published in 2014 showed that 17% to 21% of the calories from added sugar can increase the risk of heart diseases by 38% compared to people who ate 8% of added sugar in their diet.
Basically, the higher the intake of added sugar, the higher the risk for heart disease,” says Dr. Frank Hu, professor of nutrition at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.
3. It won’t spare your liver
The liver plays a central role in the metabolism of nutrients coming from the food. A high sugar diet can negatively affect the liver on two fronts.
1. As we have already seen, sucrose or table sugar is a combination of glucose and fructose molecules. Our body directly uses glucose for energy but not fructose. Fructose can only be metabolized in the liver.
The entire fructose part of the sugar goes to the liver first. There it gets converted to glucose before it is released in the blood.
But when we eat a high amount of sugar, the liver is flooded with fructose. The liver gets overloaded and starts converting the fructose into fat instead of glucose. The liver then transports this fat to the fat cells.
2. As if this wasn’t’ enough, the glucose part of the sugar spikes the insulin levels. The increased insulin levels make the conversion of fructose to fat even faster. When the conversion to fat exceeds than what it can transport to the fat cells, it starts accumulating around the liver itself.
When excessive fat builds up around the liver it can lead to a condition known as Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD).
4. Eating too much sugar can cause kidney stones
The kidney filters your blood and throws out impurities.
High sugar diet may not directly affect your kidneys but that doesn’t mean your kidneys will not suffer because of it.
Sugar can increase the uric acid levels in your blood. The fructose part of the sugar when metabolized converts to purine. These purines break down into uric acid causing the levels of uric acid to rise.
This blood with high uric acid then passes through your kidneys. Inside the kidney, high uric acid can build up and form urate crystals.
When these urate crystals pass through your kidney it can cause damage and scars. It’s believed that if left untreated, over time this damage can lead to kidney diseases.
5. High sugar diet puts your eyes at risk
You see and experience the world through your eyes. They are your body’s most developed sensory organ. Maintaining the health of your eyes will keep it functioning to its full potential well into the later years of your life.
Eating sugary treats will spike your blood sugar. If this temporary spike in blood sugar happens constantly, it can negatively affect your eyes over a period.
The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition suggested that sugar can be a cause of Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD). It can be responsible for the formation of large drusen. Drusen is white spot formation on the retina which can indicate a risk of central vision loss due to AMD.
6. A sweet tooth can make you lose your teeth
It is a well-known fact that sugar is bad for your teeth. Every mother warns their kid not to eat too many sweets or else they will ruin their teeth.
But the question is – what makes the sugar so damaging for your teeth?
Unlike other food that we eat, sugar sticks to your teeth for longer. The bad bacteria present in the mouth gets ample time to feed on the sugar.
They digest the sugar and secrete acids which can remove the important minerals like calcium and phosphate from the teeth. Although these lost minerals are replenished by the calcium and phosphate present in saliva, this is a slow process.
Over a period, if your teeth are constantly exposed to these sticky sugars, it can cause irreplaceable mineral loss from your teeth. This can cause many dental problems like –
- Removal of minerals from the teeth can damage the enamel and cause cavities – also known as tooth decay.
- A constant acid attack can cause plaque build up – a sticky colourless, odourless film on the teeth. If the plaque is not removed by daily brushing of teeth it can harden into tartar.
- If the plaque, tartar and bad bacteria continue to build up, it can lead to the gum disease known as gingivitis – bleeding gums.
7. High sugar can make your skin look wrinkly
Skin is the largest organ of our body and the first line of defence against any external infection. Also, healthy, flawless, and toned skin is the reflection of youth.
Wrinkled skin is a natural consequence of ageing, though it’s not desirable. No one wants to speed up this process and will like to keep it off for as long as possible.
Everyone knows that diet plays a key role in keeping your skin healthy and young. Good food choices will make your skin healthy and bad choices will make you look 10 years older.
In the list of bad food choices, a high sugar diet is at the top of the ladder. It causes your skin to age like a rotten tomato.
High sugar diet increases the production of AGE which causes your skin to age faster.
Definition of AGE – Advanced Glycation End product. They are harmful compounds formed when protein or fat combines with the sugar present in the blood.
AGE damages the skin proteins – elastin and collagen. These proteins are responsible to keep your skin smooth and toned. Damage to collagen and elastin causes the skin to lose its firmness and make it appear wrinkled and saggy.
A study showed that women eating a high carb diet with added sugar had more wrinkles than women on a high protein, low carb diet.
The bittersweet truth is that even after knowing all these facts, many people will continue to eat sugar and let their children eat this poison.
And for what reason – because it tastes good?
You have to decide – will you continue being a slave to your tongue or take charge of your health by making a conscious choice.
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