Used in your morning cup of coffee or tea, added into pastries, cakes and cookies, even sprinkled over your breakfast cereal and oatmeal, sugar is that sweet, short-chain, soluble carbohydrate which is most commonly found in most of the foods we consume today. Sugar is also hidden in many of the favorite treats we eat on a daily basis, such as fruit juices, sodas, candies, ice cream and almost all processed foods, including popular condiments like ketchup.
Although it’s common for people to regularly ingest sugar in every meal, how much sugar is acceptable to consume? More importantly, can excessive sugar cause negative side effects to your health? What is the exact function of sugar in the body? These are only several of the fundamental questions we must ask ourselves before we continue to eat foods with high amounts of sugar.
Excessive Sugar: Is it Bad for Your Health?
According to a research study released in February 2015, the average American today consumes approximately 32 teaspoons, or 126 grams, of sugar per day, amounting to 134 pounds of sugar per year. Moreover, people are ingesting excessive amounts of sugar in the form of fructose or high-fructose corn syrup. While this highly processed form of sugar is cheaper, it is also 20 percent sweeter than regular table sugar, which is why most food and beverage manufacturers utilize the product, allowing them to save more money in the long run.
Knowing these statistics, our concern is that the human body is actually not designed to consume excessive sugar, much less in the form of fructose. As a matter of fact, the body metabolizes fructose differently than sugar. Fructose is actually a hepatotoxin, meaning it is toxic to the liver, and it is metabolized directly into fat, which can result in a variety of issues that can have significant effects to your health.
The Effects of Consuming Too Much Sugar
Dr. Robert Lustig, a professor of Clinical Pediatrics in the Division of Endocrinology in the University of California and a pioneer in decoding sugar metabolism, explained that the human body is capable of safely metabolizing at least six teaspoons of added sugar per day. However, because most Americans are consuming over three times that amount, the majority of the excess amounts of sugar in the body are metabolized into body fat, which can lead to other debilitating chronic metabolic diseases.
The following are several side effects which occur due to excessive sugar:
- It overloads and damages your liver. Excess sugar or fructose can have similar effects to that of alcohol. All the fructose you eat travels directly to one single organ: the liver. This can severely affect the organ, leading to potential liver overloads and damage.
- It tricks the body into gaining weight and affects insulin and leptin signaling. Fructose can fool your metabolism by stopping the body’s appetite-control system. Also, it fails to stimulate insulin, failing to suppress ghrelin, otherwise known as the hunger hormone, that then fails to stimulate leptin, also known as the satiety hormone. This causes you to eat more, developing insulin resistance.
- It causes metabolic dysfunction. Eating excess amounts of sugar can cause a variety of symptoms to develop, identified as classic metabolic syndrome. These symptoms include: weight gain; abdominal obesity; decreased HDL and increased LDL; elevated blood sugar; elevated triglycerides; and high blood pressure.
- It increases your uric acid levels. Increasingly high levels of uric acid are considered to be a major risk factor for heart and kidney disease as well as the leading cause of Gout. As a matter of fact, the connection between fructose, metabolic syndrome, and uric acid levels in the body has become so clear that an individual’s uric acid levels can be utilized as a marker for fructose toxicity. According to recent research studies, the safest range of uric acid is between 3 to 5.5 milligrams per deciliter. If your uric acid level is higher than this, then it’s clear that you are at risk of experiencing the negative health impacts caused by excess sugar or fructose.
Sugar Increases Your Risk of Disease
One of the most severe effects of eating too much sugar is its potential to damage the liver, leading to a condition known as non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, or NAFLD. The same disease that you can get from excessive alcohol intake can also be caused by excessive sugar or fructose intake. Dr. Lustig described the three similarities between alcohol and fructose:
- The liver metabolizes alcohol the same way as sugar, since both serve as substrates for converting dietary carbohydrates into fat. This promotes insulin resistance, fatty liver, and dyslipidemia, or abnormal fat levels in the blood.
- Fructose causes superoxide free radicals to form, resulting in inflammation, a condition that can be also caused by acetaldehyde, a metabolite of ethanol.
- Fructose can directly and indirectly stimulate the brain’s hedonic pathway, or addiction pathway, creating habituation and dependence, the same way that ethanol does.
While these are some of the most commonly known ways that excess amounts of sugar or fructose can negatively affect the body, there are other ways the body can be affected as well. Evidence from several of America’s most respected institutions now confirms that sugar is a primary dietary factor that drives the development of chronic disease and obesity.
One study found that fructose is readily used by cancer cells to increase their proliferation, in other words, it feeds the cancer cells, promoting cell division and speeding their growth which allow the cancer to spread faster.
Alzheimer’s disease is another deadly illness that can arise from excessive sugar consumption. A growing body of research found a powerful connection between a high-fructose diet and the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease through the same pathway that causes type 2 diabetes. According to some experts, Alzheimer’s and other brain disorders may be caused by the constant burning of glucose by the brain.
Other diseases that are linked to metabolic syndrome that may potentially develop from excess sugar include:
- Type 2 Diabetes
- Heart Disease
- Peripheral Neuropathy
- Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome
- Lipid (cholesterol) problems
- Dementia (Alzheimer’s disease)
How to Manage Your Sugar Consumption
Sugar, in its natural form, is not bad as long as it’s consumed in moderation. This means avoiding all sources of fructose, particularly that found in processed foods and beverages such as soda. Approximately 74 percent of processed foods contain hidden added sugar under more than 60 different names. Ideally, you should consume more whole foods and less processed foods.
Furthermore, it’s recommended to limit the consumption of refined carbohydrates, such as waffles, cereals, bagels, etc. and grains, as these can break down sugar in your body, increasing your insulin levels and causing insulin resistance.
As a general recommendation, its advised for people to keep their total fructose consumption below 25 grams per day, including that from whole fruit. Keep in mind that although fruits are rich in nutrients and antioxidants, they also naturally contain fructose, and if consumed in high amounts, they may actually worsen your insulin sensitivity and raise your uric acid levels.
Remember that artificial sweeteners like aspartame and sucralose should also be ultimately avoided, since they can develop a completely different set of health complications which may be far worse than the issues sugar or corn syrup can cause.
Avoiding the Cravings
More evidence from recent studies has revealed that obesity, pre-diabetes and diabetes can be driving factors for, not only chronic conditions such as peripheral neuropathy, but also for a diversity of other chronic diseases, including cancer. It’s essential to realize that you don’t have to give up sugar completely but you must reduce it significantly from your diet. Research studies have demonstrated that no one should be consuming more than 6 teaspoons of sugar per day, including fruit sugar as well.
In order to become healthy and fight off chronic illness, here are some additional dietary tips to remember:
- Increase your consumption of healthy fats, such as omega-3, saturated, and monounsaturated fats. Your body needs health-promoting fats from animal and vegetable sources for optimal functioning. In fact, emerging evidence suggests that healthy fats should make up at least 70 percent of your diet. Some of the best sources include: organic butter from raw milk; virgin olive oil; coconut oil; ghee; raw nuts like pecans and macadamia; free-range eggs; avocado; and wild Alaskan salmon.
- Drink pure, clean water. Simply swapping out all the sweetened beverages like sodas and fruit juices for pure water can go a long way towards improving your health. The best way to gauge your water needs is to observe the color of your urine, it should be a light, pale yellow, and the frequency of your bathroom visits, ideally, this is around seven to eight times per day.
- Add fermented foods to your meals. The beneficial bacteria in these healthful foods can support your digestion and provide detoxification support which helps lessen the fructose burden on your liver. Some of the best choices include: kimchi; natto; organic yogurt and kefir made from grass-fed milk; and fermented vegetables.
How to Give Up Your Sugar Cravings
Sugar is highly addictive and can often affect dependency centers in the brain and it can have an emotional component as well. In order to suppress sugar cravings, it’s essential to detox. A variety of healthcare professionals can help design appropriate sugar detox programs. Such programs can be great for detoxing the body from unwanted chemicals, eliminating sugar addiction and decreasing inflammation.
The temptation to eat or indulge in sugary foods will always be there, especially with the abundance of processed foods and fast foods everywhere. However, most sugar cravings arise because of an emotional challenge. If this is what causes you to crave sugar, there are solutions such as the Emotional Freedom Technique, or EFT, that can help. This technique is a simple and effective strategy to help control your emotional food cravings. Ultimately, seeking medical help or support to decrease your sugar consumption can be the best first step to cleanse your body and improve your overall health and wellness.
For more information, please feel free to ask Dr. Jimenez or contact us at 915-850-0900 .
Sourced from: Nervedoctor.info
By Dr. Alex Jimenez
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