How does high sugar intake affect the body?
Sucrose is a chemical name of sugar which is a simple carbohydrate that is useful to the body, but excess intake affects the body's organs and causes illness.
Sugar is a form of carbohydrate that is consumed in our daily diet. Carbohydrates are consumed by the body into simple sugars like glucose, fructose, or galactose which are used as a sources of energy.
It is found naturally in dairy products, fruits and vegetables or in processed foods also called refined sugars, for example in cakes, sweets, ice-creams and sodas. Generally, sugars are good for health. They add sweets to food products. Refined sugar is a fast and simple source of energy, but it lacks other essential nutrients like vitamins and minerals.
While sugars provide energy, excess intake of sugars can lead to various health problems. According to the WHO survey, adults and older people should limit their sugar to less than 10% of total energy intake.
Effects of excessive sugar intake on the body
Eating too much sugar can lead to various health issues, they are as follows:
Weight gain (obesity)
Consumption of sugary drinks, in particular, is strongly associated with obesity, which can lead to a rise in blood sugar levels which can trigger insulin resistance and even inflammation in the body.
Type 2 diabetes is mainly caused by being overweight and not consuming sugar. People gain weight when they consume excess calories than the body requires, and sugary foods and drinks contain many calories. So high intake of sugar results in weight gain, thus increasing the risk of getting type 2 diabetes. But sugar alone cannot be the only reason for type 2 diabetes, as it is a complex condition.
Effect on heart
When the body gets an excess amount of sugars, there will rise in insulin that may be extra in your bloodstream, which affects the arteries and causes inflammation of arteries. It leads to reduced blood flow to the heart that causes heart diseases like heart failure,strokes and heart attacks.
Effect on teeth (Dental problems)
Sugary foods and drinks play a vital role in the formation of dental caries. Bacteria within the dental plaque present on the teeth surfaces use the sugar to release acid as a waste product, which slowly dissolves the enamel in the teeth and causes tooth decay.
Effect on skin
Generally, excess sugar attaches to the proteins in the bloodstream, which creates a harmful molecule called advanced glycosylated end product(AGES). They damage collagen and elastin, which are skin protein fibres that lead to wrinkles in the skin.
Effect on liver (Fatty liver)
Eating too much of sugar causes weight gain or obesity which in turn leads to non-alcoholic fatty liver (NAFLD). Another damage is that it causes non-alcoholic steatohepatitis- fatty liver inflammation and steatosis. That is scarring of the liver, which eventually cuts off the blood supply to the liver. This condition may even convert into cirrhosis, which may require treatment, such as liver transplantation.
Effect on kidneys
The kidney is composed of numerous small filters called nephrons. Diabetes can cause high blood sugar levels that can damage the blood vessels in the kidneys and nephrons, thus disturbing kidney function. It is common for individuals with diabetes to also experience high blood pressure, which can result in kidney damage.
Effect on the brain
Long-term high blood sugar harms the brain's blood vessels that deliver oxygen-rich blood. Brain cells can die if the brain receives insufficient blood flow. This condition is known as brain atrophy leading to problems like memory problems,depression, and cognitive impairments. This is because of dopaminergic levels impairment.
Effect on bones
Eating sugar is linked to a drop in vitamin D's active form, which reduces the amount of calcium absorption in the digestive tract. A high sugar diet may result in both calcium and vitamin D deficiency. High intake of sugar may also disturb bone formation by causing high glucose blood levels. Also, hyperglycaemia is related to lower bone quality and density resulting in many bone conditions like rheumatoid arthritis and osteoporosis.
Tips to Reduce Sugar Intake
Read food labels
One way to reduce our sugar intake is to check food labels carefully and choose products that are lower in sugar.
Cut back on sugar drinks
Sodas, fruit juices, energy drinks, and other sugary beverages are packed with sugar. We can replace sugary drinks with water or unsweetened beverages, coconut water, herbal tea.
Choose whole foods
Choose whole foods that are naturally low in sugars, such as fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins.
Use natural sweeteners
Instead of adding sugar to your food, use natural sweeteners like honey, stevia or maple syrup. These options reduce your sugar intake without sacrificing your sweetness.
Eat more protein
Protein is an essential nutrient that can help you feel saturated for longer and reduces your urge for sugar foods.
Cut back gradually
Cutting it out fully can be challenging if you're used to eating sugar. Instead, try gradually reducing your sugar intake by cutting back a little daily or weekly.
Plan your meals
Schedule your meals or snacks prior so that you will have a lot of healthy options on hand when you get hungry. This can help avoid reaching for sugar snacks when you're feeling hungry.
Consumption of excessive amounts of added sugar can harm the body, including weight gain, type 2 diabetes, heart diseases and dental caries. So we can reduce it by changing our diet and following some tips to maintain a healthy life.