SWEET POISON; REASONS WHY SUGAR IS RUINING YOUR HEALTH
“It all started when I was young. For some unknown reasons, I couldn’t resist sugar. I always took thrice the amount of sugar my siblings took at the dining table. Can you blame me? It’s sweet, and who doesn’t like sweet things?
I preferred sugary drinks, Pepsi Cola was my favorite. During my high school years, I would always drop by the supermarket to get a bottle after school every day. I couldn’t go to bed without taking tea. Guess the number of teaspoons I used for about 30mls of tea?
You have no idea how much I loved sugar. Because of that, my brothers called me ‘Too Sweet Anderson’, because we couldn’t eat breakfast from the same dish.
Fast forward to present day, nature has probably decided it is payback time. I’m 29 years old now and currently on admission at the hospital from a recent loss of consciousness, I’ve been diagnosed with a stroke and my love for sugar is the root cause.”
I’m sure you have heard that too much of everything is bad. Sugar is one of the most important substances the body needs. Our body can’t survive without sugar but in excess, sugar becomes toxic. Wait a minute! Don’t get it twisted, surely not all sugar can be bad right?
Firstly let me introduce to you the two main types of sugars; added sugar and naturally occurring sugar in foods like cereals and grains, fruits, and vegetables. Naturally occurring sugars are absolutely fine unlike the added sugar seen in abundance in processed foods and drinks. The most common added sugar known to everyone is regular table sugar.
The energy the body needs to work mainly comes from the sugar, glucose, the body generates from the foods we eat. In fact naturally occurring sugar in foods is enough for the body. Excess sugars from added sugar now become a burden and pose harmful irreversible effects to the body.
WHAT AMOUNT IS ENOUGH PER DAY
According to the American Heart Association (AHA), the maximum amount of added sugars you should take in a day are:
• Men: 150 calories per day (which is equivalent to 37.5 grams or 9 teaspoons)
• Women: 100 calories per day (which is equivalent to 25 grams or 6 teaspoons)
To put that into perspective, one 350ml (12 oz.) can of Coke contains 140 calories from sugar, while a regular-sized Snickers bar contains 120 calories from sugar.
WHO (World Health Organization) has it as a strong recommendation to reduce sugar intake to less than 10% of total energy. Current articles advice a reduction to 5%.
NB: This does not include sugar found naturally in foods like fruits.
4 REASONS WHY SUGAR IS RUINING YOUR HEALTH
Sugar has a bittersweet reputation with regards to health. Its excess overwhelms your body and results in chronic irreversible damages to your body from head to toe. It spares no system in the body. Why? Because of a process known as glycosylation.
In a healthy person, the body generates glucose (sugar) from the food that we eat. The glucose that isn’t immediately utilized is then stored in the body as glycogen and is converted back to glucose upon need by the body.
Normally, only a small percentage (between 4.5%- 6%) of blood glucose is left floating in blood after 2hrs of eating while the rest is stored. Glycosylation refers to the covalent bonding of blood glucose to proteins, especially to hemoglobin, the protein responsible for the red color of red blood cells.
Nevertheless, the increased amount and duration of glucose in the blood allows more glycosylation to occur, not only with hemoglobin, but with other proteins which leads to the various diseases we are coming to discuss. The excessive binding of glucose to the protein affects cell function and structure which leads to cell destabilization.
Interestingly, there are proteins everywhere in the body so damage depends on where glycosylation will take place. One injury leads to the other causing uncontrollable damage. Chronic excess sugar in the blood is known as diabetes. Read more in our article on Diabetes.
Here’s a list of how sugar can ruin your health
1. Increases your risk of heart disease.
2. Increases your risk of depression.
3. Increases your risk of having a stroke.
4. Increases your risk of kidney injury.
5. Accelerates aging process and skin wrinkling.
6. Increases your risk of having cancer.
7. Obesity (excess weight gain).
8. Tooth decay.
9. Affects your immune system and increases your risk of infection. Bacteria and yeast feed on sugar, so excess glucose in the body causes these organisms to build up and cause infections.
10. Sugar affects cognition in children. According to a research in New York City public schools, their academic ranking increased 15.7% after reducing the amount of sugar in their lunches and breakfasts, (previously, the greatest improvement ever seen had been 1.7%).
11. Decreases sexual drive.
12. It is addictive.
WHO IS AT MOST RISK
An obese, overweight or known diabetic patients are at a higher risk of health damage if sugar intake is not well controlled.
SIGNS THAT SHOWS YOU HAVE EXCESS SUGAR IN YOUR BODY
1. Increased thirst
2. Frequent urination
3. Frequent hunger
7. Blurred vision
8. Hearing disorder
9. Fruity-smelling breath
HOW TO AVOID EXCESS SUGAR
Believe me, I know how hard it is to cut back on sugar intake. In fact, its addictive quality makes it difficult but it’s not impossible. It always starts with a decision to stop.
1. Cut down the intake of sugar-sweetened beverages.
2. Choose natural fruit juices without additives.
3. Drastically limit your consumption of sweets.
4. Baked goods like cookies and cake tend to be very high in sugar and refined carbohydrates and should be consumed in moderation.
5. Do not add excessive amounts of sugar to tea or coffee.
6. Avoid processed foods.
7. Check the amount of sugar in the processed food you buy. You MUST read nutrition labels before you eat anything. (Sugar has many names found on products you have to know. These are, sucrose, high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS), fructose, glucose, dextrose, syrup, cane sugar, raw sugar, corn syrup and many more).
We are what we eat, so be careful of what goes inside. You only live once so make the right choice about your health. Save the next person by sharing this knowledge with them.