A diet high in sugar is detrimental to more than your weight-loss regimen; it can have serious side effects on your overall health and well-being—some you may not even know about! Sugar lurks in much of what we eat and drink every day, from sodas and fruit drinks to bread and the condiments we use for flavor.
Despite providing a temporary “sugar rush” that can mask itself as energy, sugar negatively influences mood, causes imbalance in bodily systems and leads to a clinically proven type of addiction, which can be difficult to overcome. Though sugar is safe in moderation, too much can be harmful. The World Health Organization recommends that only 5 percent of your daily intake come from sugar, while the typical American diet is comprised of more than double that amount.
If you still need an extra push to kick your sugar habit to the curb, here are some additional reasons excessive sugar is bad for your health.
1. Spikes Blood Pressure
Excessive sugar leads to obesity, which is directly correlated to a heightened risk of high blood pressure. Furthermore, research shows that sugar can also raise blood pressure separately from weight gain. High blood pressure forces the heart and arteries to work harder to pump blood through the body and can lead to heart disease, heart attacks, stroke and other coronary conditions.
2. Raises Bad Cholesterol
Bad cholesterol, known as LDL, clogs arteries and blood vessels and can increase your risk of heart disease and heart attacks. Clogged arteries are a serious threat for those with a high-sugar diet.
3. Impairs Your Immune System
Too much sugar can have serious effects on the ability of your immune system to ward of viruses, bacteria and parasites. Your immune system is one of the most important defenses your body has against infection a healthy low-sugar diet works to ensure it continues performing optimally.
4. Can Decrease Brain Function
Research indicates that extreme amounts of sugar can impair cognitive function and reduce the proteins necessary for memory. In a 2012 study on rats conducted by UCLA, researchers found that a diet high in fructose hinders learning and memory by slowing down the brain. Rats who over consumed fructose displayed damaged activity in the brain and also developed a resistance to insulin, which controls blood sugar levels and regulates proper function of brain cells.
5. Linked to Depression
Sudden peaks and drops in blood sugar levels can cause irritability, mood swings, fatigue and even depression. By causing your blood sugar levels to rise then plummet, you may find yourself experiencing a sugar crash and feeling anxious or moody. Sugar constantly releases serotonin in the body, causing imbalance in neurotransmitters, which work to keep moods stable.
6. Can Dull Skin and Cause Acne
A prolonged high-sugar diet can lead to dull, wrinkled skin. This is due to a process called glycation, where sugar in your bloodstream attaches to proteins to form advanced glycation end products or AGEs. Aptly named, AGEs damage collagen and elastin, the proteins that keep skin firm. Sugary foods with a higher glycemic index have also been found to have an effect on the severity of acne because of the hormonal fluctuations they generate.
7. May Increase Risk of Type-2 Diabetes
Because of the higher insulin resistance caused by surplus sugar intake, fructose, glucose and other forms of sugar can’t get into cells and are inevitably caught in the blood stream. This higher blood sugar leads to pre-diabetes and ultimately the danger of type-2 diabetes.
8. Decreases Energy
Excessive dietary sugars can decrease the activity of orexic cells, which induce wakefulness, boost metabolism and keep you feeling energized. When the activity of these cells is decreased, we become fatigued and tired, which explains why you may want a nap after heavy, carb and sugar-filled meals.
The negative effects of excessive sugar are ample. Glucose and fructose hide in many of the items you eat every day. While you may not be consuming extreme amounts of soda or candy, you might still be consuming too much sugar in other things like bread, condiments, snack foods, juices, energy drinks and more. By paying closer attention to ingredients and food labels, you will be better armed to kick your sugar habit to the curb once and for all. After a little practice and persistence, you’ll find eventually you crave healthier, low-sugar foods.