Sugar is delicious. It tastes incredible and changes flavors significantly when added to other things. Sugar gives you an immediate mood and energy boost. Your body needs natural starches and sugars to perform properly. However, the processed sugar your body craves is not very healthy.
A common part of American diets
The average American gets 13% of their daily caloric intake through sugars. It is added to many of our foods. The American Heart Association warns us to eat far less sugar. However, most of us do not even know why we crave sugar. Its prevalence, combined with sugar's addictive qualities, makes it very hard to break the sugar addiction cycle.
Some of the effects sugar has on your body are:
- Tooth decay. Plaque is a film of food particles, bacteria, and mucus. The bacteria in the plaque is sensitive to the amount of sugar you eat. If you overeat it, the plaque will produce acid, and the tooth will decay. Sticky sugars are worse for your teeth than other types of sugars, such as the ones found in fresh fruit. This is why sugar consumption and tooth decay are linked.
- Obesity. Sugar is a form of stored calories without additional nutrition. Just one can of soda has more sugar than you should consume in one day. Simply drinking one can of soda a day can cause you to gain fifteen pounds every year. If you continuously eat sugary products, the pounds will quickly add up. Obesity is a serious condition that leaves you at risk for heart issues, high blood pressure, and more.
- Type 2 diabetes. Overeating sugar is not directly related to developing type 2 diabetes, but overweight or obesity is. Type 2 diabetes happens when your blood sugar can no longer be regulated by insulin. When this happens, the sugar in your body is not able to move into your cells and used to make energy. The sugar you eat then sits in your bloodstream and is ultimately converted into fat. If you are diagnosed with diabetes, you may need to cut out certain types of sugar. You will also need to monitor your glucose levels and watch your diet generally.
- Heart issues. Increased blood pressure from excessive sugar consumption increases your chances of heart disease and stroke. It can also make you more prone to metabolic syndrome. This, combined with obesity, high blood pressure, and high blood sugar makes you likelier to develop coronary artery disease.
- Increased risk for some cancers. There is mounting evidence that increased sugar consumption raises the risk for some cancers.
- Damage to the liver. Some researchers suggest that fructose can cause fatty liver or cirrhosis just as alcohol can damage your liver. Fructose is the sugar that makes fruit taste sweet. Simply eating fruit won’t damage your liver. However, eating canned or processed fruit or fruit-based products with high doses of added fructose can cause liver damage.
How do I stop overeating sugar?
It is not suitable to eat large daily quantities of sugar. But the average American is inundated with sugar and sugar products. It can be challenging to break both the habit and the addiction of sugar.
There is no set level of sugar intake that is good for everyone, but Americans do eat too much. Depending on your weight and age, you must research the amount of sugar that is good for you. For reference, the average male should consume no more than nine teaspoons of sugar daily. That is around the amount of sugar found in a 12 ounce can of soda.
While you will need to find the right amount for you, a great place to start cutting out sugar is by looking at the labels of the food you eat. You will be surprised how many foods have added sugars. Start by looking out for:
- Brown sugar
- Corn sweetener
- Corn syrup
- Fruit juice concentrates
- High-fructose corn syrup
- Invert sugar
- Malt sugar
- Syrup molecules that end in “ose” such as dextrose, fructose, glucose, lactose, maltose, and sucrose
Always pay attention to the number of servings on the nutritional label. The product may list a much smaller serving size than you would assume.
Be aware of how much sugar you add to your food or drinks. Half of the daily added sugar people consume daily usually comes from beverages like coffee or tea. Around two-thirds of all coffee drinkers add sugar or flavorings to their coffee. Most of the calories from beverages come from sugar.