You've likely heard how bad a high-sugar diet is for your body. Everywhere you look in the grocery store or convenience store, you see items that are listed "sugar-free" or "reduced sugar". The media has made it clear to us that we need to avoid sugar as much as we can, but why exactly is that?
We're going to take a look at the reasons why you should avoid sugar and artificial sweeteners. You're going to see the impact that sugar and artificial sweeteners have on your body.
How Sugar Impacts Your Body
Let's take a look at how some different sugars are broken down by your body.
Glucose and Fructose
When glucose, a type of sugar, is first consumed, it's absorbed from the gastrointestinal tract and into the blood. Glucose in the blood triggers the pancreas to release insulin. The insulin release will turn off fat burning and instead promote glucose burning as the body's source of energy.
Any glucose that does not get burned wings up being stored as either glycogen in the muscles or lipid in the fat tissue. A buildup of lipids can cause fat deposits in your artery walls, increasing your risk for heart disease.
Fructose, another type of sugar, is also taken from the gut and into the blood, but the liver acts as a processing organ for the fructose. The liver can release fructose into the blood as one of two things: glucose or fat. The liver can also store it all as glycogen or fat depots, which can lead to fatty liver disease and increase your risk for cardiovascular disease and type-2 diabetes.
Sugar's Affect on Your Brain
Do you know that craving you get for a bowl of ice cream at 10:30 p.m.? That's because sugar causes your brain to release dopamine, a good-feeling chemical, in your brain. The foods you should be eating, like fruits and vegetables, don't cause the brain to release dopamine as sugar does, which causes your brain to crave that sugar, that dopamine feeling, more and more.
Sugar's Affect on Your Heart
As we mentioned earlier, glucose triggers the release of insulin. The additional insulin in your body can weigh heavily on your arteries. The extra insulin can cause your artery walls to be inflamed and grow thicker and stiffer than normal. This reaction can put stress on your heart and will cause damage over time. This damage can lead to things such as heart disease, heart failure, heart attacks, and strokes.
Eating less sugar has shown to help lower your blood pressure, which is a major factor for causing heart disease.
Sugar's Affect on Your Skin
A high sugar diet can also show cause side effects on your skin, specifically aging your skin faster. Excess sugar creates harmful molecules called advanced glycation end products (AGEs). AGEs damage collagen and elastin in your skin, which keep your skin firm. This results in wrinkly, saggy skin.
Sugar's Affect on Your Joints
Another bad side effect of sugar is that it can cause inflammation. Inflammation will worsen joint pain in the body. Other studies have shown that increased sugar consumption can cause a greater risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis.
Sugar's Affect on Your Teeth
You heard it from your mom and dentist all throughout your childhood, but unlike the tooth fairy, this wasn't a lie. Cavities are caused by bacteria eating the sugar that remains in your mouth.
Sugar's Affect on Your Mood
As your mother has likely complained about, sugar can give you a quick burst of energy, otherwise known as a sugar rush. This occurs because sugar quickly raises your blood sugar. Sugar rushes go hand-in-hand with sugar crashes. Crashes happen when your blood sugar levels drop back down as your cells absorb the sugar ingested. This crash may leave you feeling anxious or jittery.
On a more serious note, a high-sugar diet can lead to much worse than a sugar crash. Studies have shown that a high-sugar diet can lead adults to a greater risk of depression.
Sugar's Affect on Your Pancreas
Again, we've talked about insulin. The insulin in your body is pumped out by your pancreas. If you're eating too much sugar, your body will stop properly responding to the insulin it's creating. Your pancreas will eventually be overworked and break down. This will cause your blood sugar levels to rise, which greatly increases your risk for type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
Sugar's Affect on Your Kidneys
One of the many roles of the kidneys is to help filter your blood. Your kidneys will start releasing sugar into your urine once the sugar level in your blood reaches a certain level. If this sugar to your urine is uncontrolled, people with diabetes can damage their kidneys. This damage will prevent the kidneys from filtering out waste in your blood, which can lead to kidney failure.
Sugar's Affect on Your Body Weight
As you are likely well aware, the more sugar you eat, the more you are going to weigh. Studies have proven that those who drink sugary sodas and energy drinks tend to weigh more and are much more at risk for type 2 diabetes than those that don't drink those sodas and energy drinks.
A high-sugar diet can inflame your fat cells, which will cause them to release chemicals that will increase your weight.
As you can see by all of this, you should watch the amount of sugar you are eating, but we aren't done yet. Next up, we're going to discuss what artificial sugars can do to your body.
Dangers of Sucralose
Despite being around since the 1990s, there has not been a ton of human research done on the effects of sucralose. There have been sucralose studies conducted on rats showing damage to good gut bacteria. The rats that were fed sucralose saw a 50% decrease in beneficial gut bacteria while also experiencing a rise in their intestinal pH and heightened enzyme levels. The heightened enzyme levels could impede their ability to absorb nutrients.
Glucose and insulin issues
Sucralose has also been found to increase blood glucose levels and insulin levels while decreasing sensitivity, which could negatively impact people with diabetes who are consuming sucralose to manage blood glucose levels.
Sucralose is made by attaching chlorine molecules to normal white sugar. These chlorine molecules much harder for you to digest, which leads to you not being able to metabolize the sweetener. Sucralose passes through your body undigested and builds up in your fat cells.
Dangers of Acesulfame Potassium (Ace-k)
One of the major issues surrounding Ace-K is that it contains the carcinogen methylene chloride. According to studies, headaches, depression, nausea, mental confusion, liver effects, kidney effects, visual disturbances, and cancer can all result from long-term exposure to methylene chloride.
Ace-K reportedly can disrupt metabolic processes and interfere with appetite regulation, blood sugar control, and body weight.
Additionally, studies have shown that Ace-K can affect the early development of babies during pregnancy. Studies also show that a high daily intake of artificially sweetened drinks can cause premature births.
Through several studies (1, 2, 3, 4), researchers have determined that there is a link between the consumption of drinks with Ace-K and the development of obesity, type 2 diabetes, and metabolic syndrome.
Test tube studies have shown that Ace-K has been confirmed to increase the amount of sugar absorbed by cells from the gut.
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