The harm of sugar to the human body: the consequences, the rate per day and how to reduce consumption


Posted on Jun 26, 2022      78


Is sugar harmful to the body? Very few people are indifferent to sweets. But for most people cakes, cakes are a real hormone of happiness, which makes life bright and colorful.

Alas, all is not as harmless as it seems at first glance. The basis of all sweets contains sugar, a simple carbohydrate that is one of the ten most harmful products for the human body.

If we use its natural analogues, which are present in large quantities in fruits and vegetables, then we will not harm our health. But the refined sugar, which is part of favorite treats, harms teeth, spoils the figure, increases the risk of diabetes.

And this is not all the negative properties of this product. In this article, you will learn about the harm of sugar on the human body.

How sugar affects the human brain

It is very difficult to refuse delicious rolls, ice cream, donuts, chocolates. The brain gives a signal, salivation begins abundantly, and the hand reaches for these junk foods. Why does this happen and how sugar affects the human brain?

Sugar is an entire term to describe a class of molecules called carbohydrates. They can be found in many foods and drinks. Glucose, fructose, sucrose, and maltose are also sugar. It is found almost everywhere. So it’s important to understand the effect it has on the brain.

When you eat a product that contains sugar, you will want more. For example, chew some cereal or a piece of milk chocolate. The taste buds on your tongue are activated and signal the brain stem and then too many parts of the forebrain. One of these is the cortex, which is specifically responsible for recognizing different tastes: bitter, salty, spicy.

What happens next is the reward system, which comprises chemical and electrical currents. It is this system that guides your “I want more”. The next candy or piece of cake is no longer a conscious decision. If the reward system is overactive, loss of control is guaranteed, as Tracy Mann, director of the University of Minnesota Nutrition Laboratory, wrote.

However, the candy bar is sent on its journey through the intestines. Logically, it has a hard fate ahead of it. But there are sweet receptors in the intestines, too. They, too, signal the brain, such as that you are full or need more insulin to digest the sugar.

The neurotransmitter dopamine plays an important role in this encouragement process. A person cannot get rid of bad habits for years precisely because of its increased activity. Alcohol consumption, smoking, drugs and sugar (with less intensity), excite this neurotransmitter and therefore constantly want more.

Ordinary food is also a stimulant of dopamine, but its levels are kept within normal limits. If you eat familiar foods daily and only occasionally allow yourself something sweet after the main meal, your brain will not react so strongly to it.

What happens if you eat a lot of sweets

Consuming sugar regularly threatens that your levels of this neurotransmitter (mentioned in the previous paragraph) will become elevated. You will feel good repeatedly, the reward process will kick in, and it will be harder to stop. It’s like a looped domino effect. But at some point, break the chain and limit your intake of sweets.

An unpleasant fact that scientists at Columbia University have found is that sugar can trigger Alzheimer’s disease. Elevated insulin negatively affects the parts of the brain responsible for cognitive functions. First type 2 diabetes develops and then Alzheimer’s disease.

People who consumed 30-40 grams of sugar per day had a 35% greater risk of developing brain dysfunction than those who got sugar from normal food (5-7 grams per day).

The harm of sugar to the human body

Why is sugar bad for health? Above we have already touched on this topic, but it is significantly broader, so we will continue in this paragraph.

Sugar addiction

After sugar is digested, the body produces dopamine and serotonin (pleasure hormones). After their positive effect ends, the person seeks to resume their action.

Another simple carbohydrate causes an increase in insulin, which causes the blood glucose level to rise quickly and also rapidly decrease. As a result, after eating a sweet, we feel satiety, but it lasts for an hour or two, after which we want to eat again. It is logical that frequent snacking on sweets can lead to excess weight gain.

The harm of sugar on the stomach

If your body “catches” an excess of sugar, the process of natural breakdown of food will be disrupted. As a result, the gastrointestinal tract (GIT) will malfunction. In addition, under the influence of simple carbohydrates, liver cells will divide much faster than necessary, and tissues will be replaced by fat. In combination with low activity, constant work on the computer, this will cause the development of atherosclerosis.

Another negative moment is the development of diarrhea because of the sped up movement of food caused by the large amount of sugar that comes with the products into the digestive tract.

Excessive consumption of sweets, as well as soda, causes dysbacteriosis, which negatively affects both the gastrointestinal tract and the entire body. And elevated levels of insulin, which we mentioned above, can cause the formation of malignant tumors.

As for obesity, it is also possible when a person abuses products containing sugar. Because of the large number of calories that enter the body, along with simple carbohydrate, fatty tissue rapidly accumulates, which leads to the rapid accumulation of extra pounds.

Negative effects on the brain

Most hormonal and metabolic malfunctions in the body appear from excessive consumption of sugar. They are caused by sudden fluctuations in the levels of adrenaline, serotonin, insulin and dopamine, surges of which adversely affect the nervous system and the brain.

The effect of the “happiness hormone” that we get along with the sweets we eat does not last long. And after its effect ends, the person becomes lethargic, sad, anxious, depressed, and apathetic.

Orexin cells, which handle a person’s energy and alertness, are suppressed when we consume large amounts of sugar. If these cells are not working properly, we want to sleep all the time because of chronic fatigue. This feeling often occurs after a sugary snack.

According to studies, sugar addiction causes impaired attention and memory. Think that’s it? You may also get:

  • Anxiety;
  • depression;
  • frequent headaches;
  • trouble sleeping;
  • Increased irritability.

Increased risk of tooth decay, periodontal disease, rickets, osteoporosis

If a person regularly and in large quantities consumes sugar, the ratio of phosphorus and calcium in the body changes - the level of the first element decreases, and the second - increases. This condition lasts for 48 hours after consuming various sweets.

And if you eat sugar-containing products all the time, this disorder is observed continuously. Because of this, calcium is no longer properly absorbed and is deposited in the soft tissues.

The consequences of improper absorption of the element are quite deplorable. The body has nowhere to take calcium for metabolism, sugar oxidation, and it begins to “borrow” it from the bone tissue. Subsequently, there is a risk of rickets and osteoporosis.

Bone damage and sugar addiction are the causes of periodontal disease. It has the following symptoms: discoloration of enamel and abrasion of teeth, unpleasant odor, excessive sensitivity, destruction of tooth enamel, loss of teeth.

Sugar harmful to the skin

How does sugar affect the skin? It can provoke acne and blackheads. Why does this happen? Sugar causes the sebaceous glands to increase their productivity, resulting in the production of sebum in excessive quantities. Pores become clogged and rashes are expected.

Sugarians also age faster. Sugar damages cells and slows down collagen synthesis, which handles skin elasticity. As a result, the skin becomes stiff, loses firmness and elasticity, and early wrinkles form.

Impaired vision

Vision deteriorates not only because of constant contact with computers and smartphones but also because of excessive consumption of sugar. Surges in sugar and insulin levels in the body contribute to the deterioration of capillaries and their fragility. The consequences are decreased vision, the development of diseases such as cataracts and myopia.

Because sugar addiction provokes the appearance of diabetes and diabetic retinopathy, damage to the eyeball is accompanied by hemorrhages. Such processes can lead to glaucoma, macular edema, and retinal detachment.

How much sugar can be consumed per day without harming your health

What do the experts of the World Health Organization advise? The daily intake of sugar should not exceed 10% of the total calorie intake of an adult. For example, if a person consumes 2000 kcal per day, the norm of sugar - up to 50 grams or 12 teaspoons (50 grams of sugar contains 200 kcal).

According to the Russian Union of Sugar Producers, the average resident of our vast country exceeds the norm by about two times.

I would like to note that the norms described above are recommended for healthy people. Patients with diabetes, having metabolic syndrome, prone to fullness, should give up this delicacy.

The main myth: sugar does not improve mood

The myth, loved by all sweet-tooth people, that sweet and sugar in them improves our mood, has strongly caught on in society. We’re sorry to disappoint all fans of sweets.

Sugar does not improve mood, as previously thought, and can worsen it. This is the conclusion reached by scientists from the University of Warwick, Humboldt and Lancaster. They studied the results of 30 studies involving about 1,300 people.

It turned out that sugar has no positive effect on emotional state. The findings showed carbohydrates decrease a person’s subjective feeling of alertness and increase fatigue for 30-60 minutes after consuming them. Perhaps you are a very suggestible person and the placebo effect gives you the energy and mood you need.

The pep you feel after a sweet meal is a short-term burst of energy. This happens because the blood glucose level rises. After 30-60 minutes, the opposite effect occurs. Remember this when you eat cakes for depression or are just in a bad mood? Not only that, it will not help you in any way, but also such self-medication can lead to diabetes and obesity.

From this point, it is worth excluding high-quality bitter chocolate (high in cocoa). Such a product contains little sugar and can really improve your mood and reduce the risk of depression.

Are sweeteners harmful?

It is with an excess of sugar in the diet associated with an increase in obesity, cardiovascular disease and even cancer. Knowing this, many people switch from sugar to sweeteners, sugar substitutes, including pseudo-diet sweetened “0 calorie” drinks. But it turns out that sugar substitutes don’t save you from potential health problems.

They can cause metabolic changes and impair the body’s ability to regulate glucose levels. And while it used to be thought that sweeteners had no effect on the release of insulin, it turns out they don’t. It happens, though not as significantly. Insulin is there, but glucose is not.

Subsequently, this leads to the development of insulin resistance and, paradoxically, diabetes. Still, the body cannot be fooled. In addition, sweeteners are much sweeter than sugar and can change the perception of the sweetness of food, upsetting the balance between sweetness and energy content, which increases the amount of food consumed.

From the above data, we can conclude: if there is no diabetes, there is no need to switch to sweeteners. It is wiser to control the consumption of added (hidden in prepared foods and drinks) sugar. The World Health Organization calls for reducing it to six teaspoons a day.

How to Cut Sugar Intake to a Minimum

Having learned how sugar affects the human brain, let’s figure out how to reduce sugar intake. Sugar is the enemy. However, you should not be frightened.

You can not erase it from your life - it is contained in almost any product. What you need to do first:

  • Replace the usual sweets with natural products - honey, marmalade, marshmallows, brown sugar;
  • give up sodas and store-bought juices;
  • refuse sweets (chocolate, ice cream, candy, etc.) and non-fat products, because they add a simple carbohydrate;
  • ditch the refined sugar;
  • To stabilize blood glucose levels, eat non-starchy vegetables. These include tomatoes, carrots, eggplant, peppers and several other vegetables;
  • use stevia or agave to sweeten tea or food;
  • Get enough sleep; lack of sleep causes the body to crave high-calorie, carbohydrate-rich foods;
  • Replace sweets with fruits and dried fruits;
  • Carefully study the composition on the package.

These steps will gradually help get rid of the addiction and level out your dopamine levels. You may also allow yourself a cookie or a bagel once a week, but you will not get the same pleasure from them.

Weaning can last two weeks, or even a month. The main thing is to listen to your body and be patient. What happens if you stop eating sugar for a week? The answer is in the video.


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