BY STEVE BORN
Research has shown that the average American consumes a whopping 19.5 teaspoons (82 grams) of sugar every day, an amount much higher than the American Heart Association's recommended limit of 6 teaspoons (25 grams) of added sugar per day for women and 9 teaspoons (38 grams) for men.
Thanks to the work of well-known and highly-respected nutritional scientist, Robert H. Lustig, MD, MSL, we have a greater understanding of the damage that sugar inflicts on various parts of the body. In order to achieve better health, along with better athletic performance, it's absolutely crucial to drastically decrease your daily consumption of sugar.
Here, in no particular order, are eight ways that sugar negatively affects your body:
1. The learning and memory parts of the brain suffer
Research has shown that a diet containing high amounts of sugar - primarily fructose, especially high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) - may negatively impact the ability to learn and remember.
2. You still want to eat
The brain doesn't recognize high-fructose corn syrup foods as regular food. As a result, the brain's production of NPY - a chemical that decreases metabolism and increases appetite - is greatly diminished, basically signaling your body to continue eating.
3. Accelerated skin aging
Via a process known as glycation, excess sugar molecules attach themselves to collagen fibers (protein and fat as well), and ultimately cause these fibers to lose their strength and flexibility.
4. Excess sugar is stored as fat
Though the sugar industry heavily promoted saturated fat as the culprit for cardiovascular disease, sugar and sugary drinks are the primary risk factors. According to Dr. Lustig, excess fructose is converted into fat in the liver. That causes weight gain and increases the potential for obesity, leading to a higher risk for type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
5. Your cells take a beating
Oxidation is a normal function in the process of producing energy. However, according to Dr. Lustig, fructose accelerates this process in our cells, which can cause damage to proteins, tissues, and organs. This increases the risk of numerous health conditions, such as liver disease, kidney failure, and more.
6. You become addicted
Eating sugar contributes to the release of dopamine, a neurotransmitter that helps control the brain's reward and pleasure centers. "As dopamine receptor neurons get overstimulated, Dr. Lustig explains, the number of receptors to bind to decreases, so you'll need a bigger hit of dopamine to get the same rush.
7. Eating to alleviate stress promotes more stress
Sugar can temporarily decrease levels of cortisol, often referred to as the stress hormone, which is why it's easy for many people to go on a sugar binge. Overconsumption of sugar, however, increases the risk of insulin resistance, which, among other things, increases stress within the body.
8. Flash-and-crash energy
Simple sugars rapidly elevate glucose in the bloodstream, giving you a surge of energy. Unfortunately, that energy is very short-lived and is followed by a dramatic and precipitous drop in blood glucose levels, leaving you feeling lethargic, and even sleepy.
These eight harmful effects of sugar just scratch the surface; there are many other health issues associated with the intake of excess sugar. In fact, Nancy Appleton PhD lists 146 reasons why sugar ruins your health. See Article