It’s becoming more and more difficult to find foods that have not been processed and packaged without adding additional sugars of some sort. There is a rule of thumb that everything a person needs to live off of from a nutritional standpoint is on the outside aisles of the grocery store. That is, one should never need to go down the middle aisles. And, for the most part, I’ve found this to be true…when I’m being diligent about how I’m fueling my body.
But one must keep in mind that refined sugar is not the only form of sugar in the foods we eat. Many fruits, and even vegetables, contain high levels of sugar and produce reactions in the blood that are not the most desirable. We can delve into this topic more at a later date. So for now, without further ado, the top 5 ways refined sugar can be harmful to your health:
1. Sugar causes glucose in the blood to spike and plummet – When this happens it often leads cravings for more sugar. Cravings set the stage for a cycle of addiction in which every new hit of sugar makes you feel better temporarily but, a few hours later, results in more cravings and hunger. On the opposite spectrum, those who avoid sugar often report having little or no cravings for sugary things and feel emotionally balanced and energized a greater percentage of the time.
2. Sugar increases the risk of obesity, diabetes and heart disease – Numerous large studies have shown that the more high-glycemic foods a person consumes, the higher his risk for becoming obese, developing diabetes, and heart disease. High-glycemic foods are those that quickly affect blood sugar. Sugar that is not used as energy by the body is stored by the body as fat raising your risk for the above mentioned illnesses. This is why I included reducing the intake of refined sugar as one of the top 5 ways to reduce cholesterol naturally.
3. Sugar accelerates aging – By attaching itself to proteins in the blood, sugar contributes to the loss of elasticity found in aging body tissues such as skin, organs and arteries. The more sugar circulating in your blood, the faster this damage takes hold. There are several articles on how reducing sugar intake has a quick and drastic impact on the look and feel of your skin.
4. Sugar increases stress – For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. After a blood-sugar spike (which may or may not be caused by indulging in multiple desserts on a cruise), there’s a dive that comes after which causes the body to release stress hormones such as adrenaline, epinephrine and cortisol. One of the main things these hormones do is raise blood sugar in order to provide the body with a quick energy boost. When this happens it can make us feel anxious, irritable and shaky.
5. Sugar leads to depression, anxiety, chronic fatigue, irritability and mood swings – Consuming sugar leads to a spike in both blood sugar and feel-good serotonin levels in the brain. When the sugar withdraws from our system, we experience a “crash” creating a cycle of craving and need to binge in both our bodies and our minds. This is a huge problem for “stress eaters” because, I don’t know about you, but I don’t know many people who stress eat and binge on vegetables. It results in a vicious circle of depression, anxiety, fatigue and mood swings.
So now you know just a small handful of the horrible things refined sugar can do to your body. Now what? The key is eliminating as much of this from your diet as you possibly can so that your body will start to feel better. But we can tackle at a later date, this is marathon, not a sprint.