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9 things excess sugar does to your body

High sugar content: Did you know a can of energy drink contains around 10 tsp of sugar? And did you also know that the recommended dietary intake of sugar, as per American Heart Association (AHA) for men and women is 3 and 5 tsp respectively? Now, imagine the amount of damage these low calorie energy drinks cause to your health. High sugar content has been linked to obesity, cardiovascular diseases and type 2 diabetes.

Sugar is high in calories and has no vitamins and minerals to benefit you.

Written by Poorva Chavan |Updated : February 24, 2015 11:32 AM IST

Although sugar is an excellent source of instant energy, it is a silent killer making us vulnerable to many other conditions. Listed here are few of the many ill effects sugar has on our health.

Ill effects on health:

  1. Causes fat built-up: Table sugar or sucrose mainly consists of glucose and fructose. Glucose is required by every cell for energy whereas, fructose is not required by the body and metabolised by the liver and turned into glycogen to be used whenever required. But excess fructose can overload the liver and lead to abnormal amounts of lipids or fats in the blood.1
  2. Causes insulin resistance: High fructose diet has been shown to induce insulin resistance. Insulin resistance is a condition where the cells do not respond to insulin, which causes high concentration of sugar in the blood. This also gives rise to various metabolic disorders including type 2 diabetes.1 Blood sugar levels can fluctuate without any prior warning in diabetics and here are 10 tips to control and maintain blood sugar levels.
  3. Causes Non Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD): High fructose consumption increases the risk of developing NAFLD. As the liver metabolises fructose, it leads to generation of lipids or fats and energy depletion.2
  4. Can cause cancer: If more sugar is consumed, the body has to make effort to increase the production of insulin to utilise blood glucose. Studies have shown that insulin and Insulin-like Growth Factor (IGF) promote the proliferation of tumour cells. Also, elevated levels of insulin-like growth factors interfere with cancer therapy and its prognosis.3 Lack of insulin, due to metabolic utilisation, has also shown to increase the risk of mammary cancer.4
  5. Bad for your teeth: Sugar also acts as a good source of energy for the bacteria in your mouth, which metabolise it and produce sugar acids which attack the tooth enamel giving rise to cavities.
  6. Non-nutritious source of calories: One gram of sugar has an energy content of 3.94 kilo calories but sugar is completely devoid of proteins, mineral or vitamins. It only piles up calories without the body actually gaining any nourishment from it. Utilising as much nourishment as we can from natural sugars present in fruits is a healthy option.
  7. Linked to obesity: The high sugar content of many foods, especially soft drinks or sugar sweetened drinks, has been linked to obesity. With the increasing consumption of sugar sweetened drinks, the Body Mass Index (BMI) and frequency of obesity increases.5
  8. Causes addiction: Sugar, like other addictive drugs, stimulates the release of dopamine, which contributes to the addictive potential of sugar, making one sugar dependent. 6 Controlling sugar cravings becomes difficult with time, here are 6 ways to stop craving from sugar.
  9. Increases the risk of cardiorenal diseases: Cardiorenal diseases are a class of diseases affecting the cardiovascular system and the kidney function. Fructose promotes the formation of uric acid, which in turn causes cardiorenal diseases like hypertension, obesity, type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome and kidney disease. 7

Sugar has become an integral part of diet and avoiding it completely can be very difficult. There are various alternatives to sugar, which are not only healthy but also impart that sweet taste we desire, to our food.

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  1. Faeh D, Minehira K, Schwarz JM, Periasamy R, Park S, Tappy L. Effect offructose overfeeding and fish oil administration on hepatic de novo lipogenesis and insulin sensitivity in healthy men. Diabetes. 2005 Jul;54(7):1907-13. Erratum in: Diabetes. 2006 Feb;55(2):563. Periasami, Raj [corrected to Periasamy, Raj]; Seongsu, Park [corrected to Park, Seongsu]. PubMed PMID: 15983189.
  2. Ouyang X, Cirillo P, Sautin Y, McCall S, Bruchette JL, Diehl AM, Johnson RJ, Abdelmalek MF. Fructose consumption as a risk factor for non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. J Hepatol. 2008 Jun; 48(6):993-9. doi: 10.1016/j.jhep.2008.02.011. Epub 2008 Mar 10. PubMed PMID: 18395287; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC2423467.
  3. Boyd DB. Insulin and cancer. Integr Cancer Ther. 2003 Dec;2(4):315-29. Review. PubMed PMID: 14713323.
  4. Seely S, Horrobin DF. Diet and breast cancer: the possible connection with sugar consumption. Med Hypotheses. 1983 Jul;11(3):319-27. PubMed PMID: 6645999.
  5. Ludwig DS, Peterson KE, Gortmaker SL. Relation between consumption of sugar-sweetened drinks and childhood obesity: a prospective, observational analysis. Lancet. 2001 Feb 17;357(9255):505-8. PubMed PMID: 11229668.
  6. Avena NM, Rada P, Hoebel BG. Evidence for sugar addiction: behavioral and neurochemical effects of intermittent, excessive sugar intake. Neurosci Biobehav Rev. 2008;32(1):20-39. Epub 2007 May 18. Review. PubMed PMID: 17617461; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC2235907.
  7. Johnson RJ, Segal MS, Sautin Y, Nakagawa T, Feig DI, Kang DH, Gersch MS,Benner S, S nchez-Lozada LG. Potential role of sugar (fructose) in the epidemic of hypertension, obesity and the metabolic syndrome, diabetes, kidney disease,and cardiovascular disease. Am J Clin Nutr. 2007 Oct;86(4):899-906. Review. PubMed PMID: 17921363.

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