6 Dangers of Sugar for Your Health
I am going to admit straight away that I used to be addicted to sugar or carbohydrates – the compounds that make up the sugars in foods. This was long time ago in my high school days.
I ate so much white bread (about 50% of carbs content), sweets, snacks, and fast food. I also almost only drank sugary drinks and sodas. I loved drinking teas for my whole life, but when I was young, I always added a lot of sugar in them.
I never realized how dangerous sugar was, until some serious health issues began showing before I was even 20 years old.
I am going to share the 6 dangers of sugar for your health, that I personally think are very important to be aware of. But keep in mind that the list of sugar dangers is quite huge, besides the ones mentioned in this article.
If you find this topic interesting, or important for your health, I highly recommend further research. This topic is so important that I urge you not to stop at this article here. Google more about sugar dangers and I urge you to become aware of the carbohydrate content of the foods and drinks you consume.
Only when you really become aware of this problem and start checking food labels for sugar / carbohydrates, you will realize this important fact.
We are outright bombarded by sugar everywhere! Food companies are massively putting sugar everywhere they possibly can, trying to make us desire their products more and more.
This leads us to the first fact…
1. Sugar Can Be Addictive Just Like Many Addictive Drugs
A prominent study published in the Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews researched behavioral and neurochemical effects of intermittent, excessive sugar intake (1).
The study found that excessive sugar intake resembles the effects of addictive drugs, related to neurochemical changes in the brain. The cravings, withdrawal, bingeing that are caused by sugar, cause changes in the dopamine and opioid receptor bindings. This may lead to possible sugar addiction.
I can personally confirm these claims. In my late teens I realized I was ingesting way too much sugar than I should. And I changed my diet from massive sugars and carbohydrates to almost zero carbs diet and drinking only water, over night.
I did this diet change cold turkey, and I experienced huge withdrawal symptoms.
I will never forget how severe this was. It only lasted for about three days, but it was pure hell for me. I was so nervous, depressed, anxious, angry and irritable. I couldn’t believe what was happening to me.
All I could think off was something sweet, even just a sip of soda. When I walked past bakery, the freshly baked white bread smelled so nice and lovely that I caught myself thinking:” If I can’t eat white bread, there is no point in living this life anymore!” I also remember the feelings and thoughts when I saw a guy drinking cola in front of me, on the bus. I felt deep agony and anger inside, like a part of me was taken away from me.
And more thoughts came up. How on Earth could you be so addicted to sugar? The withdrawal symptoms wore off in about three days, and after that I gradually felt better each day.
I completely stand behind the claims of above mentioned study.
Sugar is a drug, just like alcohol and tobacco!
Part of what I was experiencing can also be explained by next fact:
2. Sugar Causes Glucose Levels to Spike and Plummet
Sugary drinks and processed high carb foods cause more blood glucose spikes than raw fruit and vegetables, and low carb (preferably home cooked) foods (2).
These spikes contribute to cravings and the cycles of false hunger. They also cause mood swings, headaches, fatigue and increased thirst, which usually leads to drinking even more sugary drinks.
Ever noticed how easy it is to drink a bottle of soda, and just keep drinking more and more sugary drinks one after another? Compare that to drinking just water 🙂
3. Sugar Increases the Risk of Diabetes, Heart Disease and Obesity
In the past we thought that carbohydrates don’t play a big role in promoting weight gain and chronic heart diseases and diabetes. But more and more research and observation is being done on carbs affecting health in general, and conclusions are shocking.
Sugar not only increases the above mentioned risks, but is even the leading cause!
Remember that carbohydrates and sugars end up as the same thing in our body. When I talk about sugar – I mean carbohydrates too, not just the white industrially processed sugar that is added to stuff.
Research shows that during past 35 years, fat intake decreased while, shockingly, the number of individuals who were overweight or developed a chronic condition, have dramatically increased (3). This study was published in 2003 and since then this problem is just escalating.
4. Sugar Causes Tooth Decay and Gum Disease
Sugar that sits on your teeth feeds the bacteria and plaque that causes tooth decay. If you don’t take care of your oral health, it may leads to gum infection (4).
It is interesting how modern diet requires from us to brush and take care of our teeth several times a day. Ever thought about how isolated groups of people on their native diets are almost immune to teeth decay?
Many indigenous people never heard about a toothbrush and yet they still have perfectly healthy teeth (5).
Sugar is the cause of so many health problems that modern society is facing today.
5. Sugar Increases the Risk of Depression
Some research has tied heavy sugar consumption to increased risk of depression and even worsen the episodes in individuals with schizophrenia (6).
Sugar reduces the activity of a protein called BDNF. People suffering from depression or schizophrenia have low levels of this hormone in their body.
Sugar also increases chronic inflammation in body, which leads to overburdened and impaired immune system – which may worsen the symptoms of depression.
An interesting statistics fact shows that countries with highest sugar intake are also the countries with highest rate of depression.
Sugar also appears to worsen anxieties and impair the body’s ability to cope with stress (7).
6. Sugar Accelerated Aging
Maybe you never heard of this one, but sugar accelerates aging just as much as smoking does!
Sugar messes up with the amino acids present in the collagen and elastin that support the young and elastic skin. High blood sugar levels in combination with ultraviolet light hitting the skin dramatically accelerate the aging process in all body tissues.
A study published on Clinics in Dermatology confirms that we may reduce the effects of aging by reducing sugar intake through careful diet and use of supplements (8).
Ice cream and sweet drinks on sunny beach, anyone?
These are the 6 dangers of sugar that I wanted to share today. This list goes on and on. I mentioned these because I have personal experience with all the above.
Because I wasn’t careful enough in my youth I know for sure that the massive amounts of sugar that I ate caused almost all the health issues I suffered.
I suffered from a rare type of diabetes, depression and strong anxieties. Before I was 20 years old I already had huge problems with my teeth and insane gum infections that caused unimaginable chronic pain. I was addicted to sugar and at some point I gained weight due to liver complications.
A change in diet and lifestyle helped me overcome the health and mental issues. My body feels younger and healthier now, more than ever before.
I wrote this article in hopes to rise awareness about the dangers of sugar and carbohydrates in the modern diet.
Also think twice before giving sweets or chocolate to children. They are even more fragile and susceptible to the dangers of sugar. Don’t think that because they are young and full of energy they are somehow miraculously immune to everything I wrote in this article. The opposite is true. Think of sugar as a drug, alcohol or tobacco. Would you willingly and happily give those to kids?
If you don’t believe me and find this topic interesting, you may check an article I found about How Sugar Intake Destroys Your Child’s Long-Term Health.
This article is not a medical advice. The experience shared here is my personal experience. If you have health concerns or questions please consult with a physician.