Consuming too much sugar can affect your health in a host of ways. Many people don’t realize how much sugar is in the processed foods and beverages they enjoy on a regular basis. Some, such as tomato sauce and juice, have a lot more sugar than you might expect.
How Sugar Can Affect Your Health
Processed foods contain fructose, a simple sugar that increases appetite and prevents the body from recognizing when it’s full. This leads to overeating and weight gain, with fat often stored in the belly. Consuming a lot of sugar can lead to inflammation, high blood sugar, high blood pressure, fatty deposits in arteries and insulin resistance. These factors increase the risk of developing heart disease, diabetes and certain types of cancer.
Fructose is broken down by the liver and converted into energy or stored in the form of glycogen. Excess glycogen that can’t be stored is turned into fat, which can lead to non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. High blood sugar levels can also damage the blood vessels in the kidneys and increase the risk of kidney disease. In addition, sugar increases the level of uric acid in the blood, which raises the risk of developing gout, a condition that causes painful inflammation in the joints.
Eating too much sugar can affect your skin. Processed foods with a high glycemic index quickly raise blood sugar and insulin levels, which can increase oil production and lead to acne. A high-sugar diet can also cause skin to age and wrinkle prematurely.
Telomeres at the end of chromosomes prevent damage. Telomeres naturally shorten with age, but consuming too much sugar can cause them to shorten more quickly, thus speeding up the aging process.
High-sugar foods cause blood sugar levels to spike and then fall. This leads to a burst of energy, followed by a crash. Eating carbs that are low in sugar and high in fiber can lead to more stable energy levels.
Rapid changes in blood sugar levels can disrupt the regulation of neurotransmitters and cause inflammation. These factors can increase the risk of depression. A high-sugar diet can also affect memory and may increase the risk of developing dementia.
Cut Back on Sugar
If you’re concerned about how the sugar you eat may be affecting your health, look for ways to cut back. Read nutrition labels. You may be surprised at how much sugar is in the foods you normally buy.
Consume fewer processed foods and beverages and more whole, unprocessed foods. If you eat out a lot, you may have no idea how much sugar is in the foods you’re being served. Cooking your own meals at home is a simple way to know what you’re eating. Writing down everything you eat can help you better understand your habits and look for areas where you can make changes.