The stats tell the facts:
One in three Americans is Obese and one in seven Americans has metabolic syndrome.
What’s the cause? There are several, but the main reason is sugar.
High levels of sugar are found in chocolate, cookies, and candies, but also in soft drinks, ketchup, cereals, fruit yogurts, canned soup, salad dressing, and ice cream. Even foods that aren’t sweet often contain sugar!
Hard to believe? Find one of these products in your kitchen and have a look at the nutrition label. You may well be shocked.
The American Heart Association recommends 6 teaspoons (24 grams) of sugar per day for women and 9 teaspoons (36 grams) per day for men. Keep these figures in mind and do a quick check of your daily foods. You are probably consuming way more sugar than you realize.
Most of processed food contains high levels of sugar.
Americans have learned the problems of high-fat diets and have changed their eating habits. We all know the health problems related to eating too much fat (trans and other unhealthy fats).
Today, not only in America but all around the world, many people have a high-sugar diet because everything we eat (canned foods, processed meals, soft drinks etc.) contain high levels of sugar. Fat is no longer the big problem it once was; it’s sugar that is making us fat and ill.
Why is sugar added in such high levels to so many foods?
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, sugar causes the release of high levels dopamine in the brain. They state
“Nearly all drugs of abuse directly or indirectly increase dopamine in the pleasure and motivation.”
This makes sugar highly addictive and many people are simply hooked. This is good for food sales but not good for your health or your weight.
Sugar is also added because it:
- Helps preserve foods and extend expiration dates
- Gives processed foods texture, color, flavor
Sugar is everywhere and everybody is eating way too much sugar.
In 2008 the average intake was 76.7 grams per day, which equals 19 teaspoons or 306 calories. A study by the Obesity Society revealed that the US adult consumption of sugar has increased by more than 30% in the last three decades. Obesity levels have risen at the same rate. Coincidence? No way!
What are the problems associated with a high-sugar diet? What happens when our body is constantly processing high doses of sugar? Let’s take a look…
1 – Sugar is a major cause of obesity because it is easily converted to fat
The added sugar that you’ll find in soda, cereals, donuts etc. contains high levels of fructose. Our body needs very little fructose and fructose can only be metabolized by the liver. Once your sugar levels are ok, the liver transforms fructose into fat.
Large amounts of sugar (more than 25g per day for women, 34g of sugar per day for men) is converted to fat, so added sugar is basically the same as fat.
High sugar diets lead to the same problems as a very high-fat diet.
High fat diets present a serious risk of:
- Weight gain
- High blood pressure
- Sleep disorders
- Slower Metabolism
- Heart Disease
2 – High sugar intake is linked to diabetes Type 2
When you eat too much sugar, you blood glucose becomes elevated so your pancreas gets stressed to produce high amounts of insulin to reduce the sugar blood levels.
If you have a high sugar diet, this process is repeated every day, several times a day, and your body starts to develop insulin resistance. This means you need more and more insulin to reduce sugar blood levels.
After doing this for a long time, your cells will eventually become so insulin resistant that, despite plenty of insulin being produced, it is unable to do its job of lowering your blood glucose and your blood glucose levels remain elevated. This is very bad for your health. Prolonged elevated blood glucose levels can lead to type 2 diabetes which, if left unmanaged, can turn into type 1 diabetes where the pancreas stops producing enough insulin.
Insulin Resistance is believed to be the major cause of Metabolic Syndrome.
People who drink Sugar-Sweetened Beverages (SSB) have up to 83% higher risk of Type II diabetes
According to the American Diabetes Association
“In addition to weight gain, higher consumption of SSBs is associated with development of metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes.“
3 – Sugar makes you feel more hungry
Studies (by NCBI) show that sugar does not suppress the hunger hormone ghrelin. In fact, it causes leptin and ghrelin (satiety and hunger hormones) to function incorrectly so you always feel hungry.
These two hormones, leptin and ghrelin, inform your brain that you have had enough food so you lose your appetite and you feel satiety. When you consume too much sugar, these hormones don’t work correctly and don’t pass the information to the brain so you end up always feeling a little bit hungry and you eat more than you need to during the day. This can lead to weight gain.
4 – Sugar makes you feel tired and sleepy
The liver is the only organ that metabolizes sugar, and this is a complex and energy-consuming process.
At the same time, the pancreas is stressed to produce a lot of insulin to reduce the high levels of sugar on the blood.
This process makes you feel tired and sleepy. That’s why you’ll often feel tired after a big meal that contains a lot of rice or potatoes. Although these foods aren’t sugar, they are converted to sugar in your body and the result is the same – post-meal tiredness.
5 – Sugar raises Cholesterol and increases your risk of Heart Diseases
The American Heart Association states that
“High levels of LDL cholesterol in your blood increase your risk of heart disease and stroke.”
It’s well known (Harvard – School of Public Health) that eating high levels of a certain types of fat, like trans-fat, can raise your cholesterol levels and increase the risk of heart disease. Subsequently, there are lots of and options. Unfortunately, many of these are high in sugar.
More and more studies have demonstrated that eating high levels of refined sugar (added sugar) can also raise your cholesterol levels.
“Eating large amounts of added sugar more than tripled the risk of having low HDL, which is a major risk factor for heart disease.”
Why, only now, are these studies revealing the link between sugar and cholesterol?
The main reason is because, during the last decade, the food industry has added sugar to almost all processed food and made food sweeter than ever before. This has resulted in a high-sugar diet because of the over consumption of sodas, cereals, cookies, ketchup and all the other foods that contain high levels of added sugar. This is a relatively recent increase in sugar consumption and, as such, studies revealing the links between a high sugar diet and heart disease are mostly new.
The worldwide population is eating more sugar than ever before, and studies show that high-sugar diets raise cholesterol levels.
Why does sugar raise cholesterol levels?
Added sugar is metabolized only by the liver and then converted to and stored as fat. This has the effect of raising triglycerides, small, dense LDLs and oxidized LDL particulars levels. Eating too much sugar increases the chances of high cholesterol levels and heart disease.
High sugar diets are inextricably linked to gaining weight, heart disease, and many other serious medical conditions. For these reasons, it makes sense to keep your sugar intake to safe and sensible levels by avoiding processed and added sugars whenever you can. Not only will you lose weight, you’ll be healthier too.