Are You Tricking Your Body into Gaining Weight?
It sits in its own container on your kitchen counter, and you use it every single day.
You add it to your morning cup of coffee. It’s added to your afternoon pick-me-up can of soda pop. It’s in the fruit juice you give your kids after school. It’s in all your favorite baked goods you make for holidays, neighborhood potlucks and church bake sales. It’s even inside your family’s go-to condiment, ketchup.
If you guessed we were talking about sugar, then you guessed right.
Some describe sugar as sweet and satisfying. We think a more accurate description is addicting and deadly.
When it comes to damaging substances you ingest, sugar is at the top of the list. And what’s even worse is that it’s some commonplace in our daily diet. We know it’s in candy and ice cream, but it also lurks in breads and meats.
Sugar Overkill is Killing Your Good Health
The American Heart Association recommends the average American woman should consume no more than 100 calories per day, which equals about 6 teaspoons of sugar, while a man’s limit is 150 calories per day, or about 9 teaspoons of sugar. AHA recommends it, but nobody is actually listening because the average American consumes 126 grams of sugar a day, which equals 31.5 teaspoons.
This overconsumption isn’t entirely your fault, though. Yes, you know you shouldn’t eat a donut for breakfast, 3 cookies during lunch and a slice of pie after dinner, but you don’t always know where sugar is hiding. Food manufacturers have one thing on their minds—making a profit—so they create processed foods that are super addicting because 74% of them have added sugars inside them under more than 60 different names.
But the rise in sugar intake is also due to consuming excessive amounts of sugar in fructose or high-fructose corn syrup form. This highly processed sugar form is 20% sweeter than your normal table sugar, which is exactly the reason behind so many food and drink manufacturers using it for their products. It’s cheaper for them to make, and since it includes sugar, you crave their products and keep buying them. Fructose-filled products you may be consuming on a daily basis and not realize how harmful it is include apple juice, Raisin Bran cereal, vinaigrette dressings and teriyaki sauce.
So while you’re consuming excessive amounts of sugar, your body is not made to do so, especially when it’s fructose you’re ingesting. Your body actually metabolizes fructose differently than normal sugar. It’s a hepatotoxin and your body metabolizes it directly into fat—which for you means an abundance of unwanted health problems.
What Sugar is Really Doing to Your Body
Sugar may be sweet, but it’s not sweet for your health. Because most people consume 3 times their daily allotment of added sugar, most of the excess sugar metabolizes into body fat, which is a leading cause for all the debilitating chronic metabolic diseases many struggle with.
So what really happens to your body and health when you consume too much sugar? More than you want to know, but you need to know.
- It tricks your body into undesired weight gain. Fructose dupes your metabolism, turning off your appetite-control system, and fails to stimulate insulin, ultimately causing you to eat more and develop insulin resistance.
- It causes metabolic dysfunction. Ingesting excessive amounts of sugar causes several symptoms known as classic metabolic syndrome, i.e. weight gain, high blood pressure, elevated blood sugar and more.
- It overloads your liver because all the fructose is moved to it, which as a result often leads to liver damage.
- It increases uric acid levels. Increased uric acid levels puts you at risk for heart and kidney diseases.
Sugar Increases Your Risk of Disease
No, it really doesn’t help the medicine go down—but it does increase your risk of disease.
Wreaking havoc on your liver is one of the more serious effects of overconsumption of sugar (fructose). You put yourself at risk of getting non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). That’s right, excessive alcohol drinkers have something in common with excessive sugar eaters. Here are the similarities of alcohol and fructose:
- Both are metabolized by your liver in the same way and serve as substrates for turning dietary carbs into fat, which encourages insulin resistance and fatty liver.
- Fructose goes through the Maillard reaction with proteins, causing superoxide free radicals to fashion, and then inflammation follows. This condition can be also triggered by acetaldehyde, a metabolite of ethanol.
- Fructose has the capability to directly and indirectly stimulate the brain's "hedonic pathway," producing habituation and reliance, just as ethanol does.
But affecting your liver is just the start of the ensuing problems.
Sugar drives obesity and the development of chronic diseases. Fructose also been linked to cancer cells, promoting the division of cells and accelerating their growth, thus allowing cancer to spread faster. Eating too much sugar is even connected to Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.
Some other diseases that could potentially arise include heart disease, type 2 diabetes, hypertension, lipid problems and polycystic ovarian syndrome.
Ways to Better Manage Your Sugar Consumption
In its natural form, sugar isn’t inherently bad. But like all things, it needs to be consumed in moderation. For you, and all of us, this means you should avoid at all costs fructose sources, like your daily can of soda and processed foods. The majority of the foods you eat should be whole foods.
Also be leery of consuming refined carbs, i.e. cereals, bagels, waffles, etc., and grains. These may seem healthy—and they taste delicious—but they break down inside your body to sugar, which increases your insulin levels and causes insulin resistance.
Fruits are a natural source of sugar, and while eating an apple for breakfast is better than a Pop - tart, whole fruits naturally contain fructose. So if you eat too much, it could worsen your sensitivity to insulin and increase your uric acid levels. Other things you can and should start doing in terms of your daily diet include:
- Eating more health-promoting fats, like avocado, organic butter, coconut oil, pecans and wild Alaskan salmon.
- Drinking water rather than sweet tea, coffee, fruit juices and sodas.
- Adding fermented foods to a daily meal, like organic yogurt, kimchi and fermented veggies, as the beneficial bacteria inside these foods support digestion and offer detoxification support, helping lessen the burden fructose puts on your liver.
- Replace the sugar you usually add to your morning coffee or baked goods with a natural sweetener.