Sugar has been a part of human life since ancient times and has always been revered as a food that offered not only physical satisfaction but also emotional comfort and spiritual rewards. Today, sugar is everywhere—in soft drinks, desserts, breads, cereals, fruit drinks, chewing gum, ketchup and hundreds of other products. Unfortunately, most people aren’t aware of how dangerous too much sugar can be to their health. This guide will expose the truth about sugar and your health so you can make more informed decisions about the foods you choose to eat and the amount of sugar you consume on a daily basis.
What is sugar?
Sugar is a sweet-tasting substance that naturally occurs in many foods, such as fruit. The word sugar usually refers to sucrose, which is made up of glucose and fructose. People can also eat other forms of sugar, such as lactose (from milk) or maltose (found in grains).
While natural sources contain healthful nutrients, sugars can be added to a wide variety of prepared foods to make them more palatable or easy to digest. However, too much sugar has been linked with obesity and an increased risk for type 2 diabetes, heart disease and cavities.
A growing body of evidence suggests that limiting added sugars—and increasing overall fiber intake—can improve weight management by reducing appetite and promoting feelings of fullness.
How much added sugar do you eat?
Our tongues have a sweet tooth, so it’s natural to assume that sugar is harmless. But studies have shown that sugar—even in small amounts—can lead to weight gain, insulin resistance, diabetes, high blood pressure, liver damage and more.
For example, women who consume 25% of their daily calories from added sugar are 27% more likely to develop heart disease than those who limit their intake to less than 10%, according to research published in JAMA Internal Medicine.
The good news: Staying away from added sugars doesn’t mean depriving yourself of sweetness. Fresh fruit is rich in fiber and nutrients such as vitamin C and potassium; plus it tastes delicious.
How much is too much?
Consuming too much sugar can lead to obesity, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, cavities, tooth decay and even cancer(1). There is no magic number when it comes to what amount of sugar is dangerous.
Most doctors would agree that a healthy adult shouldn’t consume more than 25 grams of added sugar a day (about six teaspoons). But if you are overweight or have heart disease risk factors like high blood pressure or high cholesterol , your personal upper limit may be lower than that.
The easiest way to calculate how much added sugar you eat in a day is by reading nutrition labels on food packages and sweetened beverages . Look for ingredients ending in -ose—most of these are forms of sugar.
What happens when you eat too much sugar?
If you consume too much sugar, your liver converts it into fat. Then when that fat builds up in your liver, it raises triglyceride levels and can have a negative impact on heart health.
On top of that, sugar suppresses leptin levels (the hormone that tells you to stop eating) while increasing ghrelin levels (the hunger hormone). The end result is a vicious cycle: You eat too much sugar, so your body produces more ghrelin; as a result, you get hungry again.
When you’re constantly hungry and can’t turn off cravings for sweet foods like fruits or candy, it can be difficult to avoid consuming excess sugar —and dangerous to your health over time.
Can you be healthy without avoiding all forms of added sugars?
Although it seems like a good idea to avoid all forms of added sugars, there are some health experts who argue that moderate amounts are fine. Studies show that a little bit of sugar can help you live longer, think faster, reduce food cravings, improve moods and more.
As long as you’re not going overboard—and most people do—there is no harm in indulging occasionally (or at least enjoying something sweet).
It’s a matter of finding what works for you. And if your goal is weight loss or better health in general, it’s worth keeping an eye on how much added sugar you consume each day. By gradually reducing your intake over time, you’ll probably be healthier in no time.
What are the best sources of natural sugars?
All foods that contain carbohydrates (starch or sugar) will convert to sugar in your body. However, not all sources of sugar are created equal when it comes to their impact on your health. Sugars like glucose are found naturally in fruits, vegetables, dairy products, legumes and unprocessed grains.
These foods also provide essential vitamins, minerals and fiber that help fuel your body throughout the day while keeping you feeling full longer. Fruits and dairy products contain naturally occurring sugars. Whole fruits, for example, provide natural sugars in addition to fiber, minerals, vitamins, antioxidants, and other phytonutrients.
Some examples of nutrient-rich fruits include strawberries (rich in vitamin C), grapefruit (vitamin C), peaches (beta-carotene), oranges (vitamin C), bananas (potassium), grapes/raisins (flavonoids). Fruit juice, on the other hand, is a concentrated source of natural sugar and typically contains few nutrients aside from some vitamin C.
Also Read: Foods High In Vitamin D That Will Boost Your Health
If you’re trying to lose weight safely but quickly then try reducing your fruit juice intake or better yet switch to freshly squeezed juice that you can enjoy at breakfast or a snack time.
The extra calories you’re consuming from sugar are more than likely coming from products that aren’t adding to your health. If you want to live a longer, healthier life, you should be aware of how much sugar is in what you eat.
Making small changes can have a big impact on your health! Start tracking your sugars intake using nutrition facts labels, replacing sweetened drinks with water, eating whole fruits rather than fruit juices or dried fruit and trying to eat less processed foods.
Be sure to check out our other posts for more helpful information on living healthier! And as always, reach out if we can help make any changes or answer any questions. We’re here for you!