There’s plenty of evidence that a high-sugar diet can come with some very damaging health risks. Too much added sugar has been linked to increased risk of high blood pressure, high cholesterol, reduced “good” cholesterol, inflammation, insulin resistance, obesity, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease. But that doesn’t mean all sugar is bad or that you need to cut it all out.
At the heart of the sugary situation is the fact there are two types of sugar:
Natural Sugars: There are sugars that occur naturally in fruits and milk. These sugars are complex carbohydrates that provide nutrition and help regulate blood sugar.
Added Sugars : Refined white sugar (sucrose), brown sugar, honey and syrups that are added to food are the focus of all those health studies. These added sugars are simple carbohydrates that provide little nutritional value and can cause spikes in blood glucose levels.
Below are few benefits of sugar :
Benefit #1 – Sugar Can Provide an Immediate Burst of Energy
A healthy diet that supports productivity includes sugar. Glucose is the body’s primary source of fuel, and it comes from the breakdown of sugar. Sucrose contains a fructose molecule and a glucose molecule. The body splits the molecules apart, and insulin helps transport the glucose to cells where it’s instantly metabolized and converted into energy. Without glucose we wouldn’t have stamina for all of ourholiday festivities.
Benefit #2 – Sugar Helps You Store Energy for Later
Sugar can provide energy beyond the immediate boost. After glucose is converted into energy for immediate use, the body will store some of the glucose as an energy reserve for later. The process is called glycogenesis. Glucose molecules are connected together in what’s known as a glycogen chain. The glycogen chain is broken down in single glucose units whenever there’s no primary source of energy.
What’s great about the glycogenesis process is that it allows us to go extended periods without eating – and there are some days around this time of year where that comes in handy. It’s worth noting, however, to still be mindful of your intake because when glucose exceeds storage capacity it’s converted into fat.
Benefit #3 – Sugar Can Provide an Instant Mood Boost
It should come as no surprise that sugar makes us happy. We’re so hardwired to like sugar, two sweet-receptor genes have been discovered that can predict how strong your sweet tooth will be. Regardless of genes, sugar activates the pleasure center of our brain and causes a rush of dopamine. This will produce an immediate, euphoric feeling.
Here again you have to be careful with how much sugar you eat. Too much of a good thing (i.e. sugar) can actually cause the opposite effect. If you find yourself habitually overindulging, check out our Willpower Cheat Sheet for tricks to increase your willpower!
Benefit #4 –Naturally Sweet Chocolate Can Improve Thinking Skills
Chocolate is a source of natural sugar, but it also contains other healthy components. Each bite provides a surge of antioxidants along with cocoa flavanols. Researchers have discovered that cocoa flavanols can improve cognitive function, and studies out of Italy have found that it can even improve thinking skills regardless of whether a person has cognitive impairment.
Researchers haven’t pinpointed the exact cause for the sharper thinking skills, but they theorize that cocoa flavanols protect against brain cell damage and help create connections within the brain. For the biggest cognitive boost, stick to minimally-processed dark chocolate, which contains the highest levels of cocoa flavanols. You’ll also get an extra surge of sweetness and flavanols by choosing dark chocolate infused with berries.
Benefit #5 – Natural Sugar Sources Come With Added Nutrients
When you select natural sources of sugar they usually include healthy nutrients alongside their sweet counterparts. Dairy products, fruits and veggies all provide natural sugars in addition to fiber, antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and hydration. You can indulge in all the natural sweets you want without creating unhealthy insulin spikes.
Unlike foods and drinks that naturally contain sugar, those with added sugar provide no nutritional value. They are also a poor energy source, as the body digests added sugar very quickly. Consuming too much may cause health problems over time.
Below are five reasons why added sugars are bad for health:
Problem #1. Lack of nutritional value
Sugar is an empty calorie.
Adding it to foods and drinks significantly increases their calorie content without adding any nutritional benefit. The body usually digests these foods and drinks quickly. This means that they are not a good source of energy.
Products that naturally contain sugar are different. For example, fruits and dairy products contain natural sugars. The body digests these foods at a slower rate, making them a lasting source of energy.
Problem #2. Weight gain
A significant risk of consuming excess dietary sugar is weight gain.
In most cases, sugary foods and drinks are high in calories. Consuming too many of these products will lead to weight gain, even with regular exercise. There is strong evidence showing that excess dietary sugar is a cause of weight gain.
As the body usually digests products containing added sugars more quickly, they do not offset hunger for very long. This can lead to eating more regularly throughout the day and a greater calorie intake overall.
Problem #3. Diabetes
There is a link between consuming sugary drinks and developing type 2 diabetes. It is not true that sugar causes diabetes. A high-calorie diet of any kind can lead to type 2 diabetes.
However, in most cases, diets high in sugar are high in calories. This can increase the risk of diabetes.Sugary drinks are particularly problematic.
Problem #4. Tooth cavities
Sugar consumption can cause tooth decay, which may lead to the development of cavities.
After eating sugar, bacteria in the mouth form a thin layer of plaque over the teeth. These bacteria react with the sugars present in foods and drinks. This reaction triggers the release of an acid that damages teeth.
It is possible for the body to repair some of this damage itself. Over time, however, a diet high in sugar will cause lasting damage. This can lead to tooth cavities. Cavities are permanent holes that form on teeth.
Problem #5. Heart disease
High-sugar diets may increase the risk of heart disease.
The results of a 15-year study suggest that people with a lot of added sugar in their diet are significantly more likely to die from heart disease than people with minimal amounts of added sugar in their diet.