You probably already know that in order to maintain an ideal shape, lose weight or achieve optimal health, it’s important to avoid eating too much sugar. While there are naturally occurring sugars in a number of foods such as whole, unprocessed foods like milk, fruit and vegetables, it’s generally the added sugar in processed foods that causes the most detrimental effects on our health.
Added sugar provides no nutritional value, but it’s often used in the processing of food in order to maintain freshness in baked foods, as a preservative or to provide bulk to ice creams and make the flavor more appealing.
The potential negative health effects of sugar
One obvious negative effect of too much sugar is that it contributes to obesity, but that’s certainly not the only danger. If there is too much sugar in your diet, you’ll be at higher risk for developing diabetes or high blood sugar as well as having an increased risk of heart disease. It can also contribute directly to atherosclerosis by increasing the buildup of fatty plaque on the walls of the arteries which may result in heart attack or stroke. Too much sugar can lower your HDL, or good, cholesterol levels and increase triglyceride levels.
There have been numerous studies conducted over the years as well as massive amount of research that shows beyond a shadow of a doubt that sugar can take a devastating toll on our health. The single largest source of calories for Americans comes from sugar, and more specifically from high fructose corn syrup.
What is high fructose corn syrup?
There are still many people that aren’t aware that high fructose corn syrup, or HFCS, is one of sugars’ myriad of forms. HFCS is 55 percent fructose and 45 percent glucose. Advancing food processing technology using fructose from corn ultimately made this an extremely inexpensive ingredient which now shows up in nearly all processed foods in order to increase profit margins.
As the body tends to metabolize fructose differently than it does glucose, this places the burden of doing all of the work onto the liver. Any excess fructose becomes almost immediately converted into fat, resulting in the obesity epidemic we see today. This ingredient also raises uric acid levels, which in turn elevates blood pressure and puts undue stress on the kidneys. It also leads to another huge problem; chronic, low-level inflammation which is thought to be the basis of most chronic illness and disease.
Unfortunately, many people believe that they can get away from the harmful effects of sugar on their health by using sugar substitutes such as artificial sweeteners.
Artificial sweeteners stimulate sugar receptors without the similar effects on blood glucose that sugar causes. While some claim that there are few dangers to using artificial sweeteners, the truth is that they often lead to obesity instead of providing the results most people are looking for. Research has indicated that artificial sweeteners do not prevent weight gain, and actually induce certain hormonal or physiological responses that can cause users to pack additional pounds.
By feeding your body these “fake” sugars, it gets confused. Any sweet taste sends it a signal that calories are coming soon which triggers hormonal and metabolic responses to get ready for those calories.
What’s your best bet? Avoid foods that are highly processed, including “fake” foods. Fill your diet with as many foods that come from the earth as possible, including fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, nuts and seeds.