Our bodies need sugar to function and it’s the fuel that we need to run efficiently. So why is it so bad for us? The answer lies in the added, hidden, and excess sugars we eat daily that can cause a host of chronic conditions associated with aging.
Why is excess sugar bad?
Too much sugar upsets the balance of insulin and other hormones critical in maintaining our health. It triggers inflammation throughout our bodies and causes us to gain excess weight and increases our chances of developing chronic diseases such as diabetes, fatty liver disease, and heart disease.
Thanks to hidden and added sugar, we consume too much on a daily basis. To put it in perspective, every day you might be unknowingly consuming just over ½ a cup of sugar that’s pumped directly into your blood, causing inflammation throughout your body. This article will look into some of the health problems caused by added sugars.
If you are interested in what other factors cause early aging, read: The Three Factors That Cause Premature Aging
What types of sugar are there?
Research has identified that “added” sugar and excess sugar of any type can have adverse effects on our bodies. These are some of the different types of sugars we may find in the food we eat every day.
Alcohol is a form of sugar, also known as ethanol, that’s made from fermenting sugar with yeast. Eighty percent of ethanol is processed in the liver that converts it to sugar. This means when alcohol is consumed in excess, there’s an increased risk of developing a fatty liver, as the excess sugar is converted to fats.
This is the preferred source of energy for our bodies. It’s converted into energy by insulin. The excess glucose is then stored as triglycerides in fat cells.
This is a form of sugar found in cane sugar. The sugar we use for our morning coffee or tea. It contains 50% fructose and 50% glucose.
This is a major sugar found in fruits and cereals like corn. Usually, when we eat a whole piece of fruit, the natural fibers slow down how quickly this sugar enters our bloodstream. The danger comes in when there are no natural fibers. For example, drinking fruit juice, using fructose as a sweetener, and eating products made from High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS).
High fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is sugar processed from corn. Compared to white sugar, HFCS is cheaper and sweeter. It’s an ingredient in a variety of processed products from soda to mayonnaise and even baby formula.
However, this sugar doesn’t cause an insulin spike like other sugars. It’s easily absorbed by the body and processed in the liver. The liver can get overloaded and turn the fructose into fat which builds up around the liver and can eventually cause non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD).
Apart from building up fat in the liver, excess fructose can react with protein and cause glycation which is a predisposing factor to cataracts and kidney failure.
Another danger to this sugar is that it also doesn’t stimulate leptin. This is the hormone that signals to your brain that you’re full. It’s a natural signal that tells you to stop eating and that you’ve had enough. When this signal doesn’t work, you end up eating more than you actually need which can result in you gaining weight and eventually becoming obese.
How can excess sugar lead to a fatty liver?
A fatty liver is a liver that has too much fat around and in it. If we are healthy, we will have a tiny amount of fat in the liver. But too much can become a major health problem because it causes inflammation in the liver that can eventually damage the liver to such an extent that you experience liver failure. Scientists and medical professionals have identified four stages of NAFLD.
“ It’s estimated that 1 in every 3 people in the UK has early stages of NAFLD.” - NHS
Stage 1 - Simple fatty liver or steatosis
As mentioned, excess sugar and in particular fructose can cause a build-up of fat in and around the liver. This is the first stage of NAFLD and it’s mostly harmless. But, if left unchecked, it can progress to the second stage which is more serious.
Stage 2 - Non-alcoholic steatohepatitis
During this stage, the fat around and in the liver causes inflammation (hepatitis). If this state of inflammation persists over years, it can develop the third and serious stage.
Stage 3 - Fibrosis
Fibrosis means “scar tissue” and that’s what happens in the liver. The ongoing inflammation causes scar tissue to form in the liver and the nearby blood vessels. Although serious, the liver continues to function normally but does begin to deteriorate over time.
Stage 4 - Cirrhosis
This is a very serious condition and can lead to death. The ongoing inflammation and build-up of scar tissue cause long-term damage to the liver that can’t be healed. The liver shrinks and becomes deformed. This can eventually lead to liver failure or liver cancer.
This can be frightening to read, but the good news is that NAFLD can be prevented through lifestyle changes and monitoring how much sugar you consume. You can also take a supplement containing Berberine that will help regulate blood sugar levels and boost your metabolism.
Our product Releaf is a rich source of Berberine and Silymarin that has been shown to boost cardiometabolic health.
For more information, read Berberine the Super-Antioxidant
Why is sugar bad for your health?
Here are more ways that sugar can have a negative effect on your health.
How sugar affects the brain: Sugar reduces the production of a brain chemical known as the brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF. The brain uses this chemical for enhancing our memory capacity i.e., forming new memories or even learning new things. Low levels of BDNF contribute to insulin resistance which is a predisposing factor to Type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome. Research has also found a connection between low BDNF and contracting Alzheimer’s, depression, and dementia.One interesting research found out that sugar has a similar chemical structure to cocaine. Sugar alters the brain reward system; dopamine and opiates. It causes a surge in these pathways that are also associated with addiction. And to add to Santa’s naughty list, sugar is so addictive that sugar addicts and drug addicts have similar withdrawal symptoms.
How sugar affects the skin: The sugar in the soda increases glucose levels in the bloodstream, that over time, causes insulin resistance. Insulin resistance releases a payload of inflammation throughout the body.The inflammation then produces enzymes that break down collagen and elastin responsible for firm and sag-free skin. The sugar binds to collagen in a process called glycation.
Glycation is attributed to high levels of fructose and glucose in the body. You can lower these levels by monitoring your sugar intake. You can also take supplements, like Releaf, that have berberine which has been shown to lower blood sugar levels.Sugar also suppresses white blood cells which are the body’s guards against infection. The body is left defenseless to acne-causing bacteria in your skin, and as a result, you can experience a bout of acne. Inflammation also causes your body to produce the stress hormone cortisol. This hormone is associated with excessive oil (sebum) secretion giving you oily skin. This gives bacteria fertile grounds to flourish and create havoc on your skin. Supplements that have powerful antioxidants such as Preservage can inhibit oxidative stress in body tissues and organs caused by inflammation. To find out more about these antioxidants, read Why Polyphenols are Good for You.
Excess sugar causes weight gain: Insulin is required to convert glucose in the blood and store it in fat cells. Diets high in carbohydrates or sugars result in insulin resistance. This is where cells don’t respond well to insulin causing high blood sugar and insulin levels.Although the cells don’t respond to the role of insulin in blood sugar uptake, they remain active in storing fat and don’t convert fat cells back into energy. If you are insulin resistant you will most likely put on weight easily and struggle to lose it. Insulin resistance is the precursor to diabetes and also prevents one from losing weight. To keep your sugar levels in check, monitor your sugar intake and take a supplement like Releaf that contains berberine. Sugar also disrupts the body’s hormones and, in particular, the hormone leptin. Leptin tells your body that you’ve had enough to eat and that you’re full. If leptin doesn’t respond, you end up eating more than you need which results in weight gain. This is why you can sometimes overeat on sweetened foods versus the exact same food that has not been sweetened such as milk chocolate versus bitter chocolate. Sugar can also affect our inhibitory neurons involved in decision-making, delayed gratification, and impulse control. If you’ve ever overeaten on a dessert that you find particularly delicious, this is the reason.
Sugar can drain your energy: The processed sugary products lacking in other nutrients like proteins and fiber give a brief energy boost followed by a rapid drop — defined as a crash. And this is the beginning of a shift in energy levels.
The energy-draining cycle can be curbed by choosing sugar sources that are low in added sugar and rich in fiber. Also combining sugars with protein or fat helps in maintaining optimal energy levels.
And if you need to boost your energy levels, use healthy options like NMN over sugary treats. NMN boosts NAD which gives us energy without the insulin issues. You can read more in: What is NMN and Are There Any Side Effects?
How can you reduce your sugar consumption?
You can reduce your consumption of excess sugar by monitoring what you eat, this includes reading ingredients lists for hidden sugars such as corn syrup. Here are a few tips to help you:
Avoid simple carbohydrates
It’s best to avoid simple carbohydrates as they’re quickly broken down into glucose and cause insulin spikes. These foods are saturated fats and pro-inflammatory foods like candy, white bread, ice cream, pasta, jam, pizza, and sodas.
It’s also best to avoid drinks like fruit juice because, although they might have vitamins, it’s pure fructose but without the added fiber from the fruit that slows down the release of sugar into our bloodstream and liver.
Aim for complex carbohydrates
Complex carbohydrates, on the other hand, break down the glucose at a slower rate reducing the chances of an insulin spike. These foods include fibrous foods, low-glycemic foods like nuts and whole grains and antioxidants like berries for healthy glowing skin. Eat fruit whole so that you get the fiber, the vitamins, and the minerals.
Supplement with Releaf - an anti-aging product that regulates blood sugar levels
Our supplement Releaf is a great source of berberine and it’s easy to take. This product is a highly-effective AMPK activator which is one of the longevity pathways that slows down aging, it helps metabolism, and also regulates blood sugar levels.
As you can see, sugar in excess is really bad for you. It triggers inflammation throughout your body and is a leading factor for many of the chronic lifestyle diseases that come with aging. But with simple lifestyle changes such as moderating your sugar intake, exercising, and supplementing wisely, you can prevent and slow down the deterioration that comes with aging.
The content of this article is for informational purposes only. It’s not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or health provider before starting a new health regime or program. Do not ignore medical advice or delay seeking it because of something you’ve read on this site or any Youth & Earth product.