Added sugars have been getting a lot of attention in recent years, and for a good reason. These sweeteners are added to food and beverages to enhance flavor, but they can also have harmful effects on health. Studies have shown that consuming too much added sugar can lead to weight gain and an increased risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.
The World Health Organization recommends that adults and children consume no more than 10% of their daily calories from added sugars. This means that if you’re eating 2,000 calories a day, you should limit your added sugar intake to 200 calories, or about 50 grams. That may seem like a lot, but it’s surprisingly easy to reach that limit. A can of soda contains around 40 grams of sugar, while a tablespoon of honey has around 17 grams.
Therefore, it’s important to be aware that while sugar may taste good, there are potential risks associated with consuming too much of it. Here are four harmful effects of added sugars on your body and how you can reverse the damage while there’s still time:
1. Weight Gain and Obesity
One of the most well-known effects of consuming too much sugar is weight gain. When you eat or drink foods high in sugar, your body experiences a spike in blood sugar levels. In response, your pancreas produces insulin, which helps to move sugar from your bloodstream into your cells for energy. However, if you consume more sugar than your body can use, the excess is stored as fat.
Over time, these spikes in blood sugar and insulin can lead to weight gain, especially if you consume sugary foods on a regular basis. In fact, studies have shown that people who consume large amounts of added sugar are more likely to be obese than those who consume less sugar.
However, you can reverse this effect by reducing your added sugar intake. You can instead substitute unhealthy sources of added sugar with naturally-occurring carbohydrates such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. These foods are not only lower in sugar but also provide essential nutrients like fiber, vitamins, and minerals.
2. Higher Likelihood of Cavities and Dental Problems
Too much sugar can also lead to cavities and other dental problems. When you eat sugary foods, the bacteria in your mouth feed on the sugars and produce acids. These acids then attack your tooth enamel, causing it to break down and lead to cavities.
In addition, sugary drinks like soda are particularly harmful to teeth because they contain high sugar and acid levels. These drinks can erode tooth enamel, leading to sensitivity, pain, and other dental problems.
If you consume a lot of sugary foods and drinks, it’s important to brush your teeth regularly and see your dentist for regular checkups. Dentists can identify signs of tooth decay and cavities and provide treatments to prevent further damage. You can also reduce your risk of cavities by cutting back on sugary foods and drinks and substituting them with water or unsweetened alternatives like green tea.
3. Higher Blood Sugar Levels and Risk for Diabetes
Another alarming impact of consuming too much sugar is higher blood sugar levels, which can increase your risk for type 2 diabetes. When you eat foods high in sugar, your body experiences a spike in blood sugar levels. Over time, these spikes can damage your pancreas, the organ responsible for producing insulin.
Insulin is a hormone that helps to move sugar from your bloodstream into your cells for energy. When your pancreas is damaged, it doesn’t produce enough insulin, leading to high blood sugar levels. If left untreated, type 2 diabetes can lead to serious complications like heart disease, blindness, and kidney failure.
If you’re at risk for type 2 diabetes, monitoring your blood sugar levels and seeing your doctor for regular checkups is essential. You can also reduce your risk by consuming healthier alternatives like fruits and vegetables.
4. Increased Risk for Heart Disease and Liver Damage
Another potential impact of consuming too much sugar is an increased risk for heart disease and liver damage. Studies have shown that people who consume large amounts of added sugar are more likely to develop non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), where fat builds up in a person’s liver, causing inflammation and scarring.
NAFLD can lead to cirrhosis, a serious condition in which your liver is permanently damaged. In addition, people with NAFLD are at an increased risk for heart disease and other complications like diabetes.
You can reduce your risk of NAFLD by similarly cutting back on foods and drinks with added sugars, eating healthier food like fruits and vegetables, and exercising regularly to maintain a healthy weight.
Too much sugar can have some adverse effects on your body, but you can reverse these effects by reducing your intake of sugary foods and drinks. Substituting unhealthy sources of added sugar with food rich in nutrients like fiber, vitamins, and minerals is also important. By following these tips, you can keep your body healthy and free from the harmful effects of added sugar.