As with anything in abundance, sugar can be harmful. While foods such as fruits, vegetables, dairy, and grains have natural sugar that your body digests, added sugars are where the issues begin. Found in packaged foods and drinks, your body doesn’t need added sugars if it’s already getting a diet full of natural sugars.
According to the American Heart Association, women should intake no more than six teaspoons (25 grams) of added sugar per day and men no more than nine teaspoons (36 grams) per day. Unfortunately, many Americans don’t abide by this, with as many as 22 teaspoons (88 grams) a day being consumed. Here are six ways excessive consumption of sugar can harm your body.
1. Weight gain. Sugary drinks are the main cause of weight gain – if you drink one can of soda every day without cutting back on other calories, you will be as much as 15 pounds heavier in three years. Adding on too many pounds leads to diabetes and certain forms of cancer.
2. Heart disease. One in ten Americans gets at least ¼ or more of their daily calorie intake from added sugar. Studies have shown that consuming that much makes you twice as likely to die from heart disease as someone who consumes less than half as much. Extra sugar raises your blood pressure and releases more fat into the bloodstream – both can lead to heart attacks, strokes, and other heart diseases.
3. Diabetes. When consuming a lot of sugar, you are at risk of type 2 diabetes. This occurs when sugar stays in your blood, causing your body to make less insulin or cause the insulin to not work as it should and convert food into energy. Losing 10-15 pounds can help you control your blood sugar.
4. High blood pressure. While salt is typically blamed for this, sugar can also cause hypertension. Sugar raises blood pressure by causing insulin levels to spike too high, which makes blood vessels less flexible and cause the kidneys to hold onto water and sodium.
5. High cholesterol. Sugars can raise LDL cholesterol, as well as HDL cholesterol, and hike triglycerides, hindering the work of an enzyme that breaks the blood fats down.
6. Liver disease. Packaged foods, snacks, and drinks are sweetened with fructose, which is a simple sugar that comes from fruits and vegetables. When consumed, your liver turns fructose into fat. If consumed on a regular basis, fat can build up in the liver, causing your body to develop non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. Changes in your diet early on can reverse the negative effects that have occurred so far. If left untreated, however, your liver can swell and scar due to damage