Refined sugar is hidden and lurking in almost every food that you can imagine.
Pick up a loaf of bread, a bottle of Italian salad dressing, or your favorite chocolate bar, and you’ll see sugar listed as one of the first few ingredients.
Now, I get that donuts and cookies are the bomb.
But have you ever stopped to think that perhaps eating excess refined sugar may start to slowly kill you?
In this post, you’ll learn why sugar is so addictive and five scary reasons to cut down your refined sugar consumption ASAP (and keep one foot out of the grave).
Why is sugar so addictive?
You’re driving on your way home from a stressful day at work.
The radio is turned up full blast to the latest Drake tune.
Suddenly you think to yourself “I need something to help me forget this crazy day. Drake ain’t cutting it right now.”
You see on your left hand side the red and green sign of Krispy Kreme donuts.
“Yes, that’s what I need, a chocolate iced glazed donut with sprinkles” you say to yourself.
You slow down and turn into the parking lot, relieved that you got a spot and didn’t have to wait for one.
You rush in and tell the person behind the counter to give you a chocolate iced glazed donut.
Actually you ask for two because it’s been a hard day.
You get back to the car, and before turning on the ignition, look at your donuts.
You think,”these are going to be tasty, tasty, tasty!”
As you pop that donut into your mouth, it’s as if the candy sprinkles and icing sugar come alive together into one wonderful word…
The sugar in that marvelous tasting donut sends a signal to your brain to release dopamine.
Dopamine makes you feel a “high” and starts making you do the happy dance after eating a nice sweet treat.
You like this happy feeling that you’re experiencing and you don’t want it to end.
So what do you do? You eat the second donut (that you swore to yourself that you would give to one of your kids as a treat).
But when you do so, your brain adjusts and releases less dopamine.
So in order to chase that “high”, you actually eat more and more sugar.
According to Cassie Bjork R.D., L.D., founder of Healthy Simple Life:
“Studies suggest that every time we eat sweets we are reinforcing those neuropathways, causing the brain to become increasingly hardwired to crave sugar, building up a tolerance like any other drug.”
Research on rats has shown that Oreo cookies activate more neurons in the brain’s pleasure center than cocaine does (and just like humans, the rats would eat the filling first).
I hope your giving donuts a second thought but if the donuts don’t convince you, read on to learn some scary reasons to dump sugar.
Scary reason #1 | Sugar accelerates aging
When you eat too much refined sugar and you don’t balance it out with enough fruits, and vegetables, sugar starts to rob your body of natural nutrients that it needs.
Sugar enters your bloodstream and attaches to the structures in your skin.
One type of protein found in your skin structure is collagen.
When refined sugar enters our bloodstream, it attaches to proteins and forms harmful new molecules, this process, glycation, damages skin proteins.
When these skin proteins are damaged the result is the signs of aging, and wrinkles can start to show.
Our bodies contain plenty of collagen in our skin when we are young and easily retains moisture and elasticity.
However as we age, our bodies produce less collagen.
If we eat high amounts of refined sugar while we are aging, sugar will deplete the collagen that remains.
In turn, our skin has a difficult time maintaining a smooth appearance.
Researchers also conclude that all the fancy wrinkle creams and potions in the world can’t protect us from the damage that sugar causes to our skin.
What are some great sugar substitutes?
Raw honey (but not if you follow a keto diet), maple syrup and coconut sugar.
Scary reason #2 | Sugar can increase stress
There are two types of stress, physical and psychological.
Physical stress can challenge your body’s stability. This could look like a very intense weight training workout.
Psychological stress can be what you feel during a job interview.
You’re unsure if you’ve prepared adequately by researching all the behavioral type questions you may encounter so you get nervous and your palms get sweaty.
And you feel like your going to puke.
When you eat sugar, it relieves short term psychological stress.
But can cause long term physical stress to your brain resulting in problems with your memory.
Therefore, high sugar intake in the long term is dangerous to your brain.
Alzheimer’s disease is connected to sugar and has now been coined “type 3 diabetes.”
To control your stress levels, sugar is one of the first things to kick out of your diet.
Blood sugar levels in your body spike when you eat a lot of sugar which in turn, causes your body to release more cortisol to balance blood sugar.
Higher levels of cortisol are released when you’re under high levels of stress.
Cortisol is a hormone that’s responsible for managing stress and blood sugar levels.
When you have elevated levels of cortisol in your blood, it can cause problems with sleep, headaches and negatively affect your immune system.
Scary reason #3 | Sugar increases the risk of obesity
In 2016, the World Health Organization estimated there were 1.9 billion overweight adults in the world, 650 million of which were obese. This equals about 13% of the global adult population.
In 2010, obesity was estimated to cause 3.4 million deaths, 3.9% of years of life lost, and 3.8% of disability-adjusted life-years worldwide.
If recent trends continue, it’s estimated that there will be 2.16 billion individuals classified as overweight and 1.12 billion as obese by 2030.
Obesity is a global health crisis and sugar isn’t the only contributor to obesity.
However, high amounts of sugar may cause you to put on weight because it’s high in calories and doesn’t offer much nutrients or vitamins.
Additionally, eating too much extra sugar can cause you to overeat because higher levels of ghrelin (hunger promoting hormone) and decreased levels of peptide (appetite suppressing hormone) occurs.
Scary reason #4 | Too much sugar can increase chronic inflammation
Inflammation is our body’s way of fighting infections and illness.
However, studies have shown that a diet high in added sugar can increase low-grade inflammation in your body.
Some foods increase inflammation in your blood and others reduce it.
According to the Arthritis Foundation, foods that cause inflammation include:
- sugary foods, including desserts, pastries, chocolate, and sodas
- saturated fats, such as in red meat, full fat dairy products, and many rich desserts
- trans fats, including in fast food, fried foods, cookies, and donuts
- refined carbohydrates, including bread, white rice, and white potatoes
Additional research suggests that chronic inflammation from eating too much sugar could:
- make you more prone to body pain
- zap your energy or make it harder to fall asleep
- up your risk for depression or anxiety
- make you more prone to infections
- make you more prone to digestive problems like constipation or diarrhea
Scary reason #5 | Sugar can increase the risk of heart disease
A major study published in the JAMA Internal Medicine, says that a diet high in sugar can increase your risk of dying from heart disease even if you’re not overweight and 1 in 10 people get 25% of their daily calories from added sugar.
The study was conducted over a 15 year period and researchers found that those who took part in the study eating more than 25% of their calories from added sugar were twice as likely to die from heart disease than those that ate 10% or less of their calories from added sugar.
These findings were not mutually exclusive to only one segment of the population.
This occurred regardless of sex, gender and physical activity.
These findings alone should make you think twice about eating the white stuff.
Research and studies have shown that there is a link between sugar and inflammation.
Additionally, sugar can accelerate aging, can increase stress, can increase the risk of obesity, can increase chronic inflammation and can increase the risk of heart disease.
I’m not saying to never eat a donut or chocolate bar for the rest of your life!
But it’s very important to monitor your daily consumption of sugar so that you can look and feel your best.
If you enjoyed this post, please share it with a friend.