Sugar is the most dangerous drug of the 21st century. More and more studies about the so-called “invisible enemy” show the direct connection between excess sugar intake and a wide range of diseases and health problems, from obesity to diabetes to cardiovascular diseases.
How Sugar Affects our Body
Brain damage is probably one of the unexpected consequences of high sugar intake. Studies show that the more sugar we consume, the more our brain is overwhelmed by the constant high levels of insulin, which prevents it to perceive signals correctly. Long term, this causes memory deficiency and affects our ability to reason, not to mention the recurrent sugar crashes that affect our mood on a daily basis.
Then there’s obesity, the most evident cause of how sugar affects our body. Against popular belief, our worst enemy when it comes to having weight problems is not fat or salt, but sugar. In this line, special attention is being put to fight children’s obesity, educating them on good eating habits that reduce their sugar intake and consequently, weight gain.
Along with liver and heart diseases, type 2 diabetes is another of the major diseases triggered by sugar. In Singapore, diabetes levels are amongst the highest in the world, with 400,000 people living with the disease. Such is the case that last year, the Singapore’s Ministry of Health began to take action to prevent diabetes in the population by promoting healthy eating and exercise.
Skin damage is a less obvious effect of sugar. Have you heard of “sugar face”? Glycation is actually the technical term used when sugar breaks down collagen, making your skin look older due to lack of elasticity.
So why is sugar so prevalent in most of the items found on our grocery lists? The answer is simple: food brands want to keep us addicted to their products. Their secret weapon acts in the human brain the same way alcohol or cigarettes do: causing dependence and simplifying the path to gratification. Gaining customer loyalty has never tasted so sweet.
Transitioning Into a Low-Sugar Diet
In order to avoid or reduce all the cardiovascular problems and other general health issues mentioned, it is advisable to stabilise our glucose levels by being mindful of our sugar intake. It’s important to be aware of the quantity of sugar hidden in foods that we wouldn’t suspect, which secretly adds up to our daily intake, such as bread, yoghurt, tomato sauce and dressings, including products often considered healthy. As an example, a regular yoghurt contains nearly seven teaspoons of sugar, and a bowl of bran cereal about four, whereas the World Health Organisation recommends six teaspoons a day for women, nine for men and three for children.
Once you start keeping our sugar intake within the range suggested by the WHO, it has been shown to have quick improvements in your body:
Your skin will look plumper and healthier, as the bacteria and higher testosterone levels caused by sugar will diminish in a matter of days.
As your glucose levels rebalance with a low-sugar diet, you’ll get rid of the sugar spikes, which will allow you to have more constant energy throughout the day.
At the same time, by cutting out processed sugar intake you’ll experience weight loss, even more, if you take up regular physical exercise, too.
Your cholesterol levels will decrease too, lowering the risk of cardiovascular diseases.
Without insulin spikes, your chances of preventing diabetes significantly increase.
Clearly, the long-term benefits of a low-sugar diet have to be taken into consideration before reaching for a sugar-packed treat that will provide nothing else than instant gratification. And above all, fighting the addiction to sugar is what will set us free from the bad effects of this dreaded ingredient: nothing tastes better than being in control of what we put in our bodies to live a healthy, happy life.
This is a content partnership between MyDoc and Lifestyle Collective to provide high-quality health content to our readers. MyDoc is a digital health brand that makes access to quality health easier and faster. This series is focused on educating people on general health topics. The information shared has been reviewed by third-party medical professionals.