We add it in our morning cup or tea or coffee. Even we sprinkle some on our favorite breakfast cereals for added flavor and bake it into pastries, cookies and cakes. And this is not all, it is even added in some of our favorite treats that we consume on daily basis like ice creams, candies, sodas and even fruit juices. It is an all important component in almost most of the processed foods like ketchup, sauces, breads and meat products. It is none other than our all-time favorite ‘sugar’. Most of us view it as something which is very tasty, satisfying and irresistible.
It is a known fact and perhaps all of us know the facts and dangers associated with sugar. It won’t be wrong if we describe it as something that is: toxic, addicting, and deadly. Mainly sucrose (table sugar) has been the main culprit for health damages, fructose (natural sugar in fruits) can cause harm when eaten in high quantity.
Sugar and Nutrition
Sucrose is the most common form of sugar that we regularly have in our diets. It is produced from sugar cane via a refining process that removes all the vital nutrients, vitamins, proteins and enzymes making it of NO NUTRITIONAL VALUE.
When we consume sugar or products made of sugar that is devoid of any nutrition, our body borrows these nutrients from our tissues to be able to metabolize it and as a result of which sugar actually siphons all the vital nutrients from our body parts. It is also that sugar leech’s away calcium from our teeth causing tooth decay, it depletes the body of potassium and magnesium causing heart diseases and required for proper cardiac functionality.
One thing that sugar is very high on, is calories. In simple terms sugar have – no nutrients, no protein, no healthy fats and no enzymes, just empty and can be quickly digested calories that actually pull out minerals from the body during its digestion. It produces hormone cascade that instigates a positive loop in our brain to encourage more consumption.
What is the safe amount of sugar?
Practically speaking, there isn’t any safe amount that we can say, that we should consume. Natural sugars in fruits, vegetables and other food groups are supported with fibre, vitamins, enzymes and other properties which keeps it balanced and aids the body to deal with it easily. Processed and refined varieties of sugar has none of these qualities and hence creates harmful effects in our body alike:
– It creates stress on our livers.
– Increases the levels of bad cholesterol and triglycerides.
– Is addictive in nature and creates such responses in the brain.
– Never fill you up but always encourages you to have more and as a result causes weight gain and obesity.
– Is a major contributor for excessive weight, sleep disorders and increases food cravings.
– It ages the skin faster.
Sugar and Risks of Diseases
One of the most severe damages of sugar consumption is creating havoc on our liver health, further leading to conditions of Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Diseases, the same condition as caused by excess consumption of alcohol. Sugar is a primary dietary reason that pushes towards obesity and chronic disease developments.
Studies has also confirmed that fructose (found in sugar) is used by cancerous cell to rapidly multiply and grow and allowing the form of cancer to spread faster. Alzheimer’s is another diseases that can be caused due to excess consumption of sugar and may be caused by the constant burning of glucose for fuel by our brain.
Some of the most common diseases that has been linked with too much sugar consumption are:
Ways to manage and cut sugar consumption
As long as it is taken in moderation is not inherently harmful, which means avoiding all form of processed foods and beverage, and or any other sources of fructose. At the same time it is also advised to limit and cut down on the consumption of refined carbohydrates like cereals and waffles, as they are ultimately broken down to sugar in our body.
Fruits on the other hand although are rich in nutrients and anti-oxidants, they naturally contain fructose and should not be consumed in too high quantities, as may worsen insulin sensitivity and raise uric acid levels. Artificial sweeteners like aspartame and sucralose should also be avoided as can set in more serious health conditions than sugar and corn syrups.
Here are some additional dietary tips to follow:
– Drink more of pure and clean water.
– Include fermented foods in your meals. The healthy and beneficial bacteria in such foods helps digestion and provides detoxification.
– Increase consumption of healthy fats, like omega 3, saturated and mono-unsaturated fats.
If you feel that your emotions or your own self-image is what’s encouraging you to keep consuming sugar-loaded foods and other unhealthy treats, it is recommend you try these useful techniques like meditation, exercise, and yoga as these are also effective tools to ward off your sugar cravings.
The article is authored by Dietitian Sheela Seharawat. She is one of the youngest successful entrepreneurs of India and founder & chief mentor of Diet Clinic Health Care Pvt Ltd http://www.dietclinic.co.in.