You add it to your morning cup of coffee or tea. You bake it into pastries, cakes, and cookies. You even sprinkle it all over your breakfast cereal or your oatmeal for added “flavor.”
But that’s not all. It’s also hidden in some beloved “treats” that people consume on a daily basis, such as sodas, fruit juices, candies, and ice cream. It also lurks in almost all processed foods, including breads, meats, and even your favorite condiments like Worcestershire sauce and ketchup.
It’s none other than sugar. Most people view sugary foods as tasty, satisfying, and irresistible treats. But I believe that there are three words that can more accurately describe sugar: toxic, addicting, and deadly.
Sugar, in my opinion, is one of the most damaging substances that you can ingest—and what’s terrifying about it is that it’s just so abundant in our everyday diet. This intense addiction to sugar is becoming rampant, not just among adults, but in children as well.
But how exactly does sugar work in our body, and what are the side effects of eating too much sugar?
WHY IS EXCESSIVE SUGAR BAD FOR YOUR HEALTH?
Today, an average American consumes about 32 teaspoons of sugar per day. New numbers came out in February 2015. The Washington Post did a story on it using grams (4 grams = 1 tsp). They quoted Euromonitor’s study, which said Americans are now consuming 126 grams, which would equal close to 32 teaspoons.
Euromonitor’s study costs $1200 to access; the Washington Post interprets the study for free here. It’s definitely alarming, considering the average Englishman during the 1700s only consumed four pounds of sugar per year – and that’s most likely from healthful natural sources like fruits, and not from the processed foods you see in supermarket shelves today.
What’s even more disturbing is that people are consuming excessive sugar in the form of fructose or high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS). This highly processed form of sugar is cheaper yet 20 percent sweeter than regular table sugar, which is why many food and beverage manufacturers decided to use it for their products, as it would allow them to save money in the long run.
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, says that your body can safely metabolize at least six teaspoons of added sugar per day.
But, since most Americans are consuming over three times that amount, majority of the excess sugar becomes metabolized into body fat—leading to all the debilitating chronic metabolic diseases many people are struggling with.
Here are some of the effects that consuming too much sugar has on your health:
It overloads and damages your liver. The effects of too much sugar or fructose can be likened to the effects of alcohol. All the fructose you eat gets shuttled to the only organ that has the transporter for it: your liver. This severely taxes and overloads the organ, leading to potential liver damage.
It tricks your body into gaining weight and affects your insulin and leptin signaling. Fructose fools your metabolism by turning off your body’s appetite-control system. It fails to stimulate insulin, which in turn fails to suppress ghrelin, or “the hunger hormone,” which then fails to stimulate leptin or “the satiety hormone.” This causes you to eat more and develop insulin resistance.
It causes metabolic dysfunction. Eating too much sugar causes a barrage of symptoms known as classic metabolic syndrome. These 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. High uric acid levels are a risk factor for heart and kidney disease. In fact, the connection between fructose, metabolic syndrome, and your uric acid is now so clear that your uric acid level can now be used as a marker for fructose toxicity.
According to the latest research, 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 to the negative health impacts of fructose.
Early Warning Signs To Look Out For
Many of these early warning signs are often overlooked as symptoms of feeling ‘a little under the weather’ and that they will pass naturally. The reality is that your body is warning you that there is a chemical imbalance that needs rectifying. So be alert and look out for these symptoms:
- Frequent urination and waking up frequently during the night to go to the washroom
- Blurred vision
- Brain fog, difficulty concentrating
- Excess abdominal fat/weight gain
- Nerve problems
- Dry mouth and constantly feeling thirsty
- Recurrent infections
- Slow healing of cuts and wounds
- Digestive issues
- Constant fatigue or extreme tiredness
- Feeling hungry all the time
- Dry and itchy skin
SUGAR INCREASES YOUR RISK OF DISEASES
One of the most severe effects of eating too much sugar is its potential to wreak havoc on your liver, leading to a condition known as non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD).
Yes, the same disease that you can get from excessive alcohol intake can also be caused by excessive sugar (fructose) intake. Dr. Lustig explained the three similarities between alcohol and fructose:
Your liver metabolizes alcohol the same way as sugar, as both serve as substrates for converting dietary carbohydrate into fat. This promotes insulin resistance, fatty liver, and dyslipidemia (abnormal fat levels in your blood).