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Logo Bonnie Domenghino

The Truth of Sugar and the Human Body

This is a three-part series on the impact of sugar on the human body.

In years gone past, your grandparents probably enjoyed white, granulated sugar in the occasional homemade pastry, with no ill effects as a result.

Now added sugar is hidden in far more places than one might think—from the obvious cakes, cookies, and sodas, right down to store-bought tomato sauce, bread, and yogurt. Still, many people think of the substance as merely a treat to be enjoyed on occasion.

However, in recent years, doctors and scientists are coming to realize that sugar is toxic and addicting to the body, if not downright deadly. Here is why:

Sugar is made up of 50% fructose and 50% glucose. There is a major difference between naturally occurring sugar found in plants and the highly processed granulated sugar and high fructose corn syrup found in so many modern food options. Sugar found in plants is unrefined and enters slowly through the bloodstream. However, both granulated sugar and high fructose corn syrup are highly refined, and add absolutely no nutritional value to the human body, causing a myriad of health issues.

What’s worse; the World Health Organization recommends that humans of average size consume no more than 50 grams of sugar per day. However, Europeans are taking in anywhere from 103 grams (Germany) to 97 grams (Ireland). And it’s even worse in the United States; Americans are consuming 126 grams per day!

Now that we’ve gone over the basics, here are just a few of the health issues that sugar can cause:

  1. Sugar increases the risk of diabetes, obesity, and heart disease.  Many scientific studies have clearly shown that the more sugar a person ingests, the higher the risk of developing life-threatening diseases.
  2. Sugar consumption causes unstable blood sugar leading to headaches, fatigue, mood swings, and severe cravings. No fun there! However, people who live a sugar-free lifestyle report no signs of emotional instability or cravings.
  3. Sugar speeds up aging. After hitting the bloodstream, sugar attaches itself to proteins, in a process known as glycation. These new molecular structures aid in the loss of skin elasticity.
  4. Sugar raises stress levels. After eating something sugary, blood sugar spikes and then takes a nosedive, which forces the body to release stress hormones such as epinephrine, adrenaline, and cortisol. These hormones, in turn, raise blood sugar again to provide the body with a quick boost of energy. Unfortunately, this pattern causes us to feel irritable, shaky and stressed.
  5. Sugar suppresses the immune system and causes inflammation. There is not currently substantial scientific data in this area, but studies done on rats have shown that sugar is no friend to the immune system, something that several old wives tales have also confirmed.

Overall, it’s become clear that the age of refined sugar must be over if we want to live the best life possible. To help move towards a life with less refined sugar but more health, we’ll be going over cravings and what to do about them in part 2!