Did you know an average American child consumes 32 tsp of sugar everyday and an adult, 22 tsp? And do you know what the recommended daily intake of sugar is? It’s just 6 to 9 tsp!
Sugar has become a part of our daily lives to such an extent that it is practically impossible to avoid it. And we are not talking about those celebratory occasions where sugar flows smoothly in the form of cakes, cookies and pastries. It has also become the part of most people’s diet without them realising. Right from starting your day with the purportedly healthy breakfast cereal to your mid-day yogurt to your evening juice, sugar has found a way to sneak into everyday food!
With the introduction of convenient packaged foods for people on-the-go, sugar consumption has increased manifold in the last few decades. Not surprisingly, so have the incidences of obesity, cardiac ailments and hypertension.
Here are some ways refined sugar harms our body and why you must avoid refined sugars aggressively:
- Obesity– sugar adds pounds to your weight very quickly and increases your waistline. Sugar is merely empty calories- It is estimated that by 2030, there would be about 1.12 billion people suffering from obesity.
- Hepatotoxicity– sugar affects your liver, and as a result, your metabolism slows down. This further leads to difficulty losing weight.
- Cardiac diseases – sugar increases your chances of dying from heart diseases later in your life. It has been found that people whose sugar consumption is 20% more than what is recommended have a 38% chance of dying from cardiac ailments.
- Increases fat deposition– sugar is responsible for the body adding a layer of visceral fat around your organs.
- Insulin resistance– your body develops insulin resistance, leading to diabetes. It affects your ability to process sugar. Children who consume more sugar during their childhood have a higher likelihood of developing diabetes and high cholesterol as they grow.
- Ghrelin-leptin hormones– ghrelin and leptin are hormones that regulate our hunger and satiety. Ghrelin is the hunger hormone that tells us if we are hungry and when to eat. Leptin is the satiety hormone, and tells our brain that we are full, and when to stop. In other words, they tell us when to start and stop eating. Sugar messes this cycle up. We end up eating more frequently and the body doesn’t know when to stop.
- Dopamine-buzz– sugar, just like alcohol and narcotics, gives our body a dopamine surge and causes us to get addicted to it. It plays with the reward center of the brain and gives it a feeling of “pleasure”. The brain is wired to repeat actions that give it happiness. This is the reason we reach out mindlessly to that can of soda or a packet of crisps.
- Hidden ingredient– sugar is added to packaged foods under different names such as corn syrup, molasses, rice malt, treacle and more. Most of us think what we picked from the shelf is sugar-free, whereas it could actually contain a high amount of sugar in various forms. Even food touted as low-fat or diet food are generally laden with sugar. Sugar is a part of items like ketchups, pasta sauces, salad dressings, energy bars, yoghurts and breakfast cereals, so unless it’s natural sugars found in the form of fruit and dried fruit- try and avoid the added stuff!
- Mood swings – irritability, migraines and chronic fatigue syndrome are linked to high sugar consumption. Sugar also produces typical withdrawal symptoms.