Let’s talk about sugar friends (you know that stuff that’s sooo good and oh so addicting?) Would it surprise you that the average adult in the United States consumes 22 teaspoons of added sugar daily?…YIKES!!!
That’s almost 4 x the recommended intake for women and more than double the limit recommended for men. Did you know too much processed sugar can destroy your body? Truth!! Here are 5 ways sugar is wreaking havoc in your body, and how you can STOP it!
- Too much sugar increases your risk for heart disease by causing plaque build-up in your arteries and increasing blood pressure. In 2014, researchers were able to scientifically show that ingesting too much added sugar could significantly increase your risk of dying from cardiovascular disease. In fact, people getting 17 to 21 percent of calories from added sugar face a 38 percent higher risk of dying from cardiovascular disease compared to those who got just 8 percent of their calories from sugar. The relative risk was more than double for those who consumed 21 percent or more of their calories from added sugar (1).
- Excess sugar in the blood causes inflammation, which makes the liver work harder, producing more cholesterol to patch arteries. Over time, this may lead to NAFLD – non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.
- Nonalcoholic fatty liver occurs when fat builds up in the liver. According to a study conducted at the University of Sydney at Westmead Hospital in Australia, NAFLD is present in 17 percent to 33 percent of Americans. This growing percentage parallels the frequency of obesity, insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes. And many Americans with the disease don’t experience any symptoms.
- How about your digestive system…does sugar cause damage to your gut? Absolutely!
Microorganisms that live in the gut actually act similarly to a metabolic “organ,” and researchers now believe sugar changes the gut microbiota in a way that increases intestinal permeability, AKA leaky gut symptoms.
This means the chronic, low-grade inflammation that sugar triggers can lead to the transfer of substances from the gut into the bloodstream. This can trigger obesity and other chronic, metabolic diseases.
Getting rid of excess added sugar is a key part of any effective leaky gut treatment plan. Added sugar feeds yeast and bad bacteria that can damage the intestinal wall creating a leaky gut.
- Metabolic Diseases: Diabetes is one of the fastest growing disease in the United States. A 2013 study published in the journal PLOS ONE found for every 150 calories of sugar a person consumes a day (about the equivalent of a can of soda), they increase their risk of type 2 diabetes by 1.1 percent.
- Does sugar impact cancer risk? When the National Institutes of Health set out to investigate sugar’s link to 24 different cancers, they didn’t find tons of published research, noting more is needed. But, they were able to find some associations, showing sugar may even increase the risk for cancers such as:
- small intestine
Added sugars increase the risk of esophageal cancer, while added fructose (think high-fructose corn syrup dangers) appeared to increase the risk of cancer in the small intestine (2).
Other research hints at a connection between high intake of added sugars and colon cancer. This higher risk remained even after adjusting for other colon cancer risk facts like being overweight or obese or having diabetes.
And, dietary sugar could also increase the risk of breast cancer tumors and metastasis to the lungs, according to a 2016 study by the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center.
How do you STOP sugar from destroying your body? Eliminate or severely reduce your intake of added, processed sugar!
Added sugars can fall under all sorts of different names on ingredient labels. It can be tough to know how much sugar comes from natural or added sources right now, but by mid-2018, expect to see an “Added Sugar” line on the Nutrition Facts label (3).
One rule of thumb to find these hidden sugars is that any ingredient ending in “ose” is a type of sugar.
Here are other names for added sugar. Look for these in the ingredients list on foods:
- Anhydrous dextrose
- Brown sugar
- Confectioner’s powdered sugar
- Corn syrup
- Corn syrup solids
- High-fructose corn syrup (HFCS)
- Invert sugar
- Malt syrup
- Nectars (for example, peach or pear nectar)
- Pancake syrup
- Raw sugar
- White granulated sugar
How do you kick the sugar habit?
- Start by cutting back on processed foods and drinks to decrease your sugar intake.
- If you do use sugar, use less processed forms, such as raw honey or organic maple syrup, but use them sparingly. You could also use stevia for sweetening purposes.
- The good news is, you can reduce your cravings by slowly eliminating sugar. Your taste buds will adjust…trust me y’all…I’ve been there and if I can kick sugar to the curb, you can too!