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10 reasons why sugar is your biggest enemy

10 reasons why sugar is your biggest enemy

Even an hour of exercising cannot undo the damage sugar does to your health. Here's why sugar is bad for you, even if you don't have diabetes.

Written by Debjani Arora |Updated : November 18, 2015 12:57 PM IST

So you don t have diabetes nor do you suffer from any lifestyle related disorders like high blood pressure, metabolic disorders, etc. Well, that s good news but is not a ticket for you to devour sugar in any form. Added sugar is surely harmful to your health, but hidden sugar (the ones that come in your processed foods, pastries, sweet and mithai, etc.) can do damage beyond any repair. So, if you think you need to be concerned about sugar intake only if you are diabetic, then think again. This is what sugar does to your body:

It sets you up for heart disease: No this isn t a joke, more than fats, it is sugar that damages your heart and arteries, increasing your chances of cardiovascular diseases and heart attack. Just limiting white sugar in your tea, coffee and fruit juices is not going to help. Remember, even fructose, a type of sugar present in honey and fruits, has the capacity to increase your LDL or bad cholesterol, constrict your arteries, increase blood glucose and insulin levels -- all of which can increase abdominal obesity and up your risk for both heart diseases and diabetes [1]. Here are 10 ways to keep your heart healthy.

It tricks your brain into alcohol and drug addiction: If you are a non-smoker, non-alcoholic and wish to be the same, stay away from foods that are high in sugar. If you notice closely people who are into drugs, alcohol or any other kind of addiction have a high affinity for junk or other foods that are rich in sugar like pastries, mithai and desserts. Now, here is the link: sugar, releases a neurotransmitter called dopamine in the brain, which increase the affinity towards it and other addictive substances which also act on the same lines of sugar i.e., release dopamine and help one enhance mood [2]. Here is why your brain doesn t allow you to quit sugar.

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It increases hunger: Eating a pastry, doughnut or two gulab jamuns to satisfy your mid-morning hunger or mid-evening craving might make you eat more during your meal time, no matter how early or late you decide to have the meal. And if you think that sprinting for 10 minutes or so can help burn the calories, you are still wrong. Sugar in various forms (glucose or fructose) doesn t help to satiate your hunger. In fact, even high level of fructose in the blood can decrease the circulation of leptin and insulin while increasing the concentration of hunger hormone ghrelin. This could be a contributing factor for weight gain and obesity [3]. Read this if you feel hungry all the time.

It makes your liver sick: Foods that we eat breaks down into sugar, mainly of two kinds glucose and fructose. While glucose is needed by every cell of the body, fructose doesn t have much of a physiological importance. But fruits, honey and many sweeteners have fructose and that is how it gets into our blood stream. This fructose is metabolised only by the liver and converted into glycogen to be used in future when the body needs energy. But if there is too much of stored glycogen and high level of fructose in the blood, the liver turns it into fat, restricting it to perform its normal functions. This could also lead to fatty liver syndrome and complications of diabetes and cardiovascular diseases [4]. Here are some natural remedies for fatty liver that are too good to try.

It could lead to various types of cancer: No, this isn t a vague assumption, but excess sugar could be a marker for cancer. Remember, insulin plays an important role in the regulation of cell growth. Some studies indicate that elevated insulin levels because of consumption of foods high in sugar could be a reason for prostate, pancreatic and breast cancer [5]. Here are 13 foods that can help to fight cancer.

It could make you resistant to insulin: This is one of the sign and symptoms of metabolic syndrome, which is a cluster of symptoms like elevated blood pressure, LDL cholesterol, etc. Now eating more sugar could mean that more glucose in the blood and so your pancreas would secrete more insulin for the glucose to enter your cells. However, with elevated insulin in the body the cells become immune to insulin, resulting in insulin resistance. This is when there is high blood glucose in the body, indicating to be a marker for diabetes and other metabolic problems [6].

It is bad for your dental health: There is no denying that sugar is bad for your teeth and one of the prime reasons for cavities. Now, if you are thinking what makes sugar so envious of your teeth, remember sugar is empty calories, and it robs nutrients out of the food. So the sugar that remains in the mouth, especially if you fail to rinse your mouth thoroughly it gives an ideal environment for the bad bacteria to thrive and grow [7].

It leads to obesity: Now, this should not be a surprise. Since sugar is capable of suppressing satiety and increasing ghrelin, the hunger hormone it is no surprise that you end up eating more, mostly carbohydrate-rich foods that lead to abdominal obesity (in the absence of physical activity). Abdominal obesity is one of the major contributing factors in metabolic disease, heart diseases and also renal diseases [8].

It makes you age faster: More sugar in your diet will ruin the collagens in your skin and lead to wrinkles and spots that can rob your age and make you look elder than your age. Probably, this is reason enough to make you limit your intake of sugar from your diet [9].

It leads to diabetes: We kept the obvious for the last. Over time when there is too much of insulin in the blood, and your cells become insulin resistant, the pancreas loses its ability to generate more insulin to meet the demands of the body. This is when blood glucose levels go skyrocketing, and the obvious diagnosis is type II diabetes.

Here's a little more information

OsteoporosisImage source: Shutterstock

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[1] Johnson, R. J., Segal, M. S., Sautin, Y., Nakagawa, T., Feig, D. I., Kang, D. H., ... & S nchez-Lozada, L. G. (2007). Potential role of sugar (fructose) in the epidemic of hypertension, obesity and the metabolic syndrome, diabetes, kidney disease, and cardiovascular disease. The American journal of clinical nutrition, 86(4), 899-906.

[2] Avena, N. M., Rada, P., & Hoebel, B. G. (2008). Evidence for sugar addiction: behavioral and neurochemical effects of intermittent, excessive sugar intake.Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews, 32(1), 20-39.

[3] Teff, K. L., Elliott, S. S., Tscho p, M., Kieffer, T. J., Rader, D., Heiman, M., ... & Havel, P. J. (2004). Dietary fructose reduces circulating insulin and leptin, attenuates postprandial suppression of ghrelin, and increases triglycerides in women. The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, 89(6), 2963-2972.

[4] 1: Stanhope KL, Schwarz JM, Havel PJ. Adverse metabolic effects of dietary fructose: results from the recent epidemiological, clinical, and mechanistic studies. Curr Opin Lipidol. 2013 Jun;24(3):198-206. doi: 10.1097/MOL.0b013e3283613bca. Review. PubMed PMID: 23594708; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4251462.

[5] 1: Boyd DB. Insulin and cancer. Integr Cancer Ther. 2003 Dec;2(4):315-29. Review. PubMed PMID: 14713323.

[6] Grundy, S. M. (1999). Hypertriglyceridemia, insulin resistance, and the metabolic syndrome. The American journal of cardiology, 83(9), 25-29.

[7] Touger-Decker, R., & Van Loveren, C. (2003). Sugars and dental caries. The American journal of clinical nutrition, 78(4), 881S-892S.

[8] Bray, G. A., Nielsen, S. J., & Popkin, B. M. (2004). Consumption of high-fructose corn syrup in beverages may play a role in the epidemic of obesity.The American journal of clinical nutrition, 79(4), 537-543.

[9] Tanaka, S., Avigad, G., Brodsky, B., & Eikenberry, E. F. (1988). Glycation induces expansion of the molecular packing of collagen. Journal of molecular biology, 203(2), 495-505.

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