Sugar is basically a carbohydrate that tastes sweet! Fruits come naturally prepacked with it, whereas processed one is extracted from fruits and then used to sweeten other food items. It’s found and consumed so commonly that we don’t even realize how many extra calories we consume just by having a few teaspoons of it.
Although it is being dubbed as the root of all evil things these days; I feel we should take a step back and analyze the situation is some depth. As they say, the devil is in the detail and the phenomenon of “sugar is evil” is still under research and evolution.
Types of Sugar
Most of us are familiar with just two types; The white crystalline structures added in coffee and tea. And the type found in fruits that make them such a treat to eat! But it has a few other types as well:
Fructose and Glucose:
It’s found in fruit, honey, and some of the root vegetables.
Commonly called table sugar, its extracted from sugar cane. Sucrose is also naturally found in fruits and vegetables as it is made of fructose and glucose.
Lactose is found in milk and other dairy products.
Maltose is found in barley, malted drinks, and beer.
How much Sugar is OK?
Sugar can sneak into our body without us even realizing it. Sweetened food tastes yummy and it’s hard to resist. Soon a scoop of ice-cream or a candy bar becomes two and we end up consuming large amounts of it without meaning to.
The recommended amount of added sugar for consumption is quite limited though. AHA recommends consuming only 6 teaspoons of it if you’re a female, and 9 teaspoons if you’re a man. That amount is not big since a can of coke alone contains 10 teaspoons of sugar!
Effects of Sugar
I’m quite certain that you already are aware of some of its harmful effects on our body. Apart from obesity, it is also considered guilty of causing diabetes, blood pressure, and heart problems, among other ailments. Some of its effects are:
1. Causes Weight Gain
Consuming sugar means consuming calories. And since it doesn’t have any nutritional value, you end up eating a lot of sweet food without feeling full. That is why eating sweetened food is termed as eating empty calories that can lead to excessive weight gain and obesity.
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2. It’s Addictive
I used to be skeptic about this one, but later I learned that drinking alcohol and eating sugar stimulates the same area in our brain – which means it really is addictive! It gives you a “high” which makes you want to have more of it. But this feeling of high crashes down when our body makes insulin.
This makes us reach for sweetened food to feel good again and it soon becomes a vicious cycle.
3. Drains Energy
Although consuming sugar gives you a sudden burst of energy or a spike in energy level, it is naturally followed by a drop. This sudden drop is known as a sugar crash as the energy levels drop suddenly. These fluctuations cause our energy to drain and leave us feeling fatigued, moody, and tired.
4. Compromises Immune System
Glucose is particularly harmful to our immune system because bacteria and yeast are found to feed on it, which means infection causing bacterial multiplies and gets strong! A few studies have shown sugar to suppress the immune system as well.
5. Increases Risk of Heart Diseases
Heart diseases are the number one cause of death around the world. A diet that is abundant in sugar puts you at the risk of obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, and high triglyceride. All of which increase the risk of heart diseases.
How to limit Sugar intake?
Limiting sugar is all about control. And while that’s easier said than done, here are ways that you can limit your intake:
Soft Drinks: Perhaps the number one reason for sugar overdose; soft drinks contain large quantities of it and they should be eliminated completely from the diet.
Fruit Juice: While drinking juice may seem like a healthier choice, prepacked fruit juices contain the same amount of sugar as soft drinks. You should always opt to eat fresh fruit over drinking fruit juice.
Candies: Who doesn’t love eating a chocolate bar or some marshmallows. But these should be avoided as much as possible.
Bakery Items: Cakes and cookies contain a large amount of sugar as well as refined carbohydrates. You’re not doing yourself any favors by consuming them.
Sugar is so commonly found around us that we end up eating a large quantity of it without even realizing so. To stay fit and strong, its consumption should be limited and controlled.
Apart from weight gain, it can lead to serious repercussions such as heart diseases. Try eating fruits when you crave something sweet and start living healthy!
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