“You are what you eat, so eat something sweet” is a very sweet quote but has a bittersweet reputation when it comes to health! Did you know that carbohydrate, an essential micronutrient, is a producer of sugar? Sugars, in fact, are simple carbohydrates which are easily absorbed and digested by the body. It is an empty calorie food, has zero nutritional value and provides only energy. It is naturally found in lots of foods. For instance, as fructose in fruits, as lactose in dairy and dairy products and different cereals and grains.
Is It Really A Villain Of Good Health?
Along with negatives, sugar has many positives:
- It makes anything taste better
- Provides immediate energy to your body
- Naturally found sugars in foods like fruits and vegetables have little effect on blood sugar and are considered healthy.
- It increases happy hormones.
Adverse Effects Of Eating Too Much Sugar
Too much of anything is bad, and the same goes for sugar! Here are some ill-effects it can have on your body:
- Weight Gain or Obesity: Too much consumption of white sugar can contribute to weight gain or obesity, due to it’s high calorie content. When eaten in excess, it gets dumped into cells and gets stored as fat and results in weight gain.
- Type 2 Diabetes: Excessive intake creates problems for pancreas. Body monitors blood glucose levels and produces insulin to help control it. When blood glucose level is high and has more glucose than your body needs, cells become insulin resistant, the control breaks down, blood sugar rises to dangerous levels and leads to Type 2 Diabetes.
- Hurt your Heart: There is a clear relation between sugar consumption and high BP. Eating too much can harden the arteries and damage heart tissues, which is a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke.
- Tooth Decay: It is the primary food source for bacteria that can grow in your mouth and cause tooth decay.
- Non Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease ( NAFLD): is a metabolic stress related liver disease. A diet high in sugar and specially fructose, can trigger your liver to store fat which can lead to NALFD.
- Hampers Immune Function: It can interfere with the immune system as bacteria and yeast feed on sugar. So excessive glucose in the body causes these organisms to build and cause infections.
- Accelerates Ageing: When it enters your bloodstream, it attaches to protein. The mix of these proteins with sugar causes loss of elasticity and increases premature ageing. Thus, it can mess with your skin by contributing to wrinkles and sagging.
- Increases Risk of Developing Gout: Gout is an inflammatory condition that causes pain in the joints. Added sugars raise uric acid levels in the blood and increases risk of developing and worsening gout.
- Damages Kidneys: When blood sugar is too high, the kidneys spill it into urine, which can cause permanent damage.
- Fertility: High blood sugar impairs reproduction function in both men and women. Excessive consumption can rob essential vitamins and minerals.
How Can You Cut Down The Intake?
Daily recommended limit of sugar for women is 6 tsp (30gms), men 7tsp (35gms) and for children 3tsp(15gms). Apart from this recommended limit, you can also do the following:
- Avoid sugary drinks such as sodas, energy/sports drinks, etc. That will reduce sugar intake and could help you lose weight. Homemade sherbet’s like lemon, kokum or amla, etc. can be a better alternative to sugary drinks.
- Avoid packaged or processed food in favour of whole foods like fresh fruits, vegetables, seeds, whole grains, legumes and nuts.
- When you buy ready to eat foods, read nutrition labels. If you know how much sugar is in a product, you can limit the intake of that food. Some of the common names of hidden sugars on packaged food labels are corn syrup, cane sugar, dextrose, agave, high fructose corn syrup, coconut palm sugar, etc. Food manufacturers add sugars in foods like ice-cream, cookies, candy, soda, ketchup, sauces, bread, yogurt, etc.
- Instead of adding sugar in cereals or oats, try fresh fruits like banana, strawberry, sapota and apple, etc.
- Avoid protein/granola bars which contain lots of added sugar. Eat low sugar snacks such as nuts and fruits.
- Don’t store desserts like ice cream, cakes, different sauces in the fridge and biscuits and cookies on shelves to reduce cravings.
- Natural sweeteners such as stevia and xylitol can be healthy alternatives to sweet sugar.
Sugary or sweet products are sweet to the tongue but not for the body. Consuming small quantities is the key to healthy eating. For least harm to the body and fullest enjoyment, eat it in moderation.
We hope this article helps you make healthy eating choices. Do leave your thoughts in the comments below! For more on nutrition, check out Healthy Reads or tune in to LIVE sessions by experts on GOQii Play.