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Why is Sugar Bad for You?

We get it, sugar tastes great, but before you add that extra spoonful to your coffee, stop and ask yourself why you want it; because you certainly don’t need it.

Sugar has no essential nutrients

There’s nothing in added sugar that you can’t access from a regular healthy diet; you break down the simple and complex starches present in unprocessed foods into glucose if you need it. Sugar offers empty calories that fill you up for a very short while and mean you miss out on eating the actual good stuff.

The bacteria in your mouth need it, but they also send out lots of acid as a by-product of their metabolism. That’s actual acid. On your teeth. Ouch.

Added sugar is often fructose

Before sugar gets into your bloodstream from your food, it’s broken down into glucose and fructose. All your cells need glucose and if you don’t get it directly from your diet you produce it from other types of starches that you eat like wheat and potatoes. Fructose isn’t necessary and it’s only our liver that can metabolise it. Small amounts of fructose are fine, our livers just turn it into glycogen and save it for later exercise.

If we have too much fructose, however, the liver turns it to fat. This is where it gets murky, though, because people’s tolerances to fructose differ and highly active people will burn through their glycogen stores quickly enough to compensate for a sugary diet.

Too much fructose can lead to liver disease

When fructose is turned into fat in the liver, some leaves in the form of very low-density lipids (which are bad news), but some of them get stuck. This leads to non-alcoholic fatty liver disease which is associated with several typically western metabolic diseases.

Too much sugar leads to diabetes

Insulin is a vital hormone as it tells your blood sugar to enter cells when they need to burn glucose rather than fat. However, when there’s too much sugar in the diet, cells stop listening to the insulin and become “insulin resistant”. This insulin resistance is a precursor to diseases like type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, heart disease and obesity.

Sugar is addictive

Sugar causes a dopamine release in the brain and this “reward” is addictive. Some people have addictive personalities and will chase the sugar high every day.

It causes obesity

Too much sugar causes the “feeling full” signals in the brain to be disrupted so people simply eat more before they’re satisfied. Children who consume lots of sugary drinks and foods are 60% more likely to be overweight or obese. This is a well-known effect of sugar, but it’s actually only the tip of the iceberg. The bottom line is that sugar is best avoided if you want to stay healthy.

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