Sugar is a major ingredient in our daily meals. Whether natural or added, sugar intake in the wrong amount is potentially harmful to the body in the short term and long term. These sugars include brown sugar, sucrose, fructose, honey, maltose, corn sweetener, malt syrup, maple syrup, fruit juice concentrates, corn syrup, and raw sugar.
These sugars, when taken in the right amount, are healthy. However, it is important to consider the type of sugar you are consuming. Natural sugars are generally safer and healthier to consume because they are better digested and utilized. On the other hand, added sugars are associated with more adverse effects. Corn syrup, fructose, and sucrose are the commonly used added sugars. Foods like candy, soft drinks, and fast foods contain high amounts of these sugars.
How much is enough then? A recent study in America showed that the average daily sugar intake in adults was about 306 calories, equivalent to 9 teaspoons of sugar, or 78 grams. The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends that the maximum sugar or caloric intake in adult men is 150 calories or 38 grams or nine teaspoons per day while women 100 calories or 25 grams or six teaspoons. For a better perspective, a regular 350 mL coke contains 140 calories of sugar.
Sugar consumption stimulates brain centers similar to illegal drugs leading to addiction. This is why people crave more sweet or sugary food after the initial meal leading to uncontrolled consumption. Some symptoms of high blood sugar include excessive hunger and thirst, tiredness, increased urination, blurring of vision, unexplained weight loss, tingling sensation on the feet, or sores that take too long to heal. When you experience one or a combination of these symptoms, you should see a doctor. So what are the effects of too much sugar in the body, and why is it healthy to cut back on sugar?
Some of the reasons include reducing weight gain and better weight control. Poor weight is associated with cardiovascular diseases. Also, it reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease from the deposition of fat along arteries leading to clogging and blood pressure issues. Cardiovascular diseases are a leading cause of mortality among Americans.
Additionally, cutting back on sugar reduces the development of Type 2 Diabetes from too much sugar consumption. Prolonged sugar levels in the blood lead to insulin resistance and consequently diabetes and inflammation. Furthermore, unrestricted sugar intake leads to mood alteration and the risk of depression.
In women, high sugars have been shown to speed aging and the wrinkling process from Advanced glycation end products (AGEs). Acne has also been linked to high sugar consumption. In children and adults, it causes dental decay and cognitive decline. It increases the risk of developing a fatty liver in the long term. So let us all cut down on too much sugar and live a longer, healthier life!