Sugar, in all forms, is a simple Carbohydrate that Your Body converts into glucose and uses for energy. But the effect on Your Body and your overall Health depends on the type of Sugar you’re eating, either Natural or Refined.
Natural Sugars are found in fruit as fructose and in dairy products, such as milk and cheese, as lactose. Foods with Natural Sugar have an important role in the diet of cancer patients and anyone trying to prevent cancer because they provide essential nutrients that keep You Body Healthy and help prevent disease.
Refined Sugar comes from Sugar cane or Sugar beets, which are processed to extract the Sugar. We use white and brown Sugars to sweeten cakes and cookies, coffee, cereal and even fruit. Food manufacturers add chemically produced sugar, typically high-fructose corn syrup, to foods and beverages, including crackers, flavored yogurt, tomato sauce and salad dressing. Low-fat foods are the worst offenders, as manufacturers use Sugar to add flavor.
Most of the processed foods we eat add calories and Sugar with little nutritional value. In contrast, fruit and unsweetened milk have vitamins and minerals. Milk also has protein and fruit has fiber, both of which keep you feeling full longer.
How the body metabolizes the sugar in fruit and milk differs from how it metabolizes the refined sugar added to processed foods. The body breaks down refined sugar rapidly, causing insulin and blood sugar levels to skyrocket. Because refined sugar is digested quickly, you don’t feel full after you’re done eating, no matter how many calories you consumed. The fiber in fruit slows down metabolism, as fruit in the gut expands to make you feel full.
But there’s a caveat. Once the sugar passes through the stomach and reaches the small intestine, it doesn’t matter if it came from an apple or a soft drink.
How much sugar is already in your blood will determine how the body uses the sugar,. If you already have a lot of sugar in your system, then what you just digested will form either fat or glycogen, the storage form of glucose that’s used for quick energy. It doesn’t matter if it’s junk food or fruit.
We eat more refined sugar today than our parents and grandparents did three decades ago, which has resulted in increasing obesity rates among adults and children. Obesity has been associated with certain cancers, including breast, prostate, uterine, colorectal and pancreatic. On the flip side, fruits high in antioxidants—blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, strawberries and apples—may reduce your cancer risk. The fiber in fruit, found mainly in its skin, suppresses your appetite to prevent overeating and weight gain.
The big picture is being a Healthy weight and making healthy food choices. It’s about eating a diet with whole foods, lean proteins, complex carbohydrates like quinoa rather than white bread, and non-starchy vegetables. Focus on making good food choices every day on a consistent basis, not on the one piece of cake you had as a treat.
Eating sugar gives your brain a huge surge of a feel-good chemical called dopamine, which explains why you’re more likely to crave a candy bar at 3 p.m. than an apple or a carrot. Because whole foods like fruits and veggies don’t cause the brain to release as much dopamine, your brain starts to need more and more sugar to get that same feeling of pleasure. This causes those “gotta-have-it” feelings for your after-dinner ice cream that are so hard to tame.
The occasional candy or cookie can give you a quick burst of energy (or “sugar high”) by raising your blood sugar levels fast. When your levels drop as your cells absorb the sugar, you may feel jittery and anxious (a.k.a. the dreaded “sugar crash”). But if you’re reaching into the candy jar too often, sugar starts to have an effect on your mood beyond that 3 p.m. slump: Studies have linked a high sugar intake to a greater risk of depression in adults.
Another side effect of inflammation – it may make your skin age faster. Excess sugar attaches to proteins in your bloodstream and creates harmful molecules called “AGEs”. These molecules do exactly what they sound like they do: age your skin. They have been shown to damage collagen and elasticity in your skin — Protein fibers that keep your skin firm and youthful. The result? Wrinkles and Saggy skin.
If you have joint pain, here’s more reason to lay off the candy. Eating lots of Sugars has been shown to worsen joint pain because of the inflammation they cause in the body. Plus, studies show that Sugar consumption can increase your risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis.
Your Body Weight
This probably isn’t news to you, but the more Sugar you eat, the more you’ll weigh. Research shows that people who drink sugar-sweetened beverages tend to weigh more — and be at higher risk for type 2 diabetes — than those who don’t. One study even found that people who increased their sugar intake gained about 1.7 pounds in less than 2 months. Excess amounts of sugar can inflame fat cells causing them to release chemicals that increase weight.
Your Sexual Health
You may want to skip the dessert on date night. Sugar may impact the chain of events needed for an erection.
“One common side effect of chronically high levels of sugar in the bloodstream is that it can make men impotent”. This is because it affects your circulatory system, which controls the blood flow throughout your body and needs to be working properly to get and keep an erection.
How to Reduce Your Sugar Intake
Excessive added sugar has many negative health effects.
Although consuming small amounts now and then is perfectly healthy, you should try to cut back on sugar whenever possible.
Fortunately, simply focusing on eating whole, unprocessed foods automatically decreases the amount of sugar in your diet.
Here are some tips on how to reduce your intake of added sugars:
- Swap sodas, energy drinks, juices and sweetened teas for water or unsweetened seltzer.
- Drink your coffee black or use Stevia for a zero-calorie, natural sweetener.
- Sweeten plain yogurt with fresh or frozen berries instead of buying flavored, sugar-loaded yogurt.
- Consume whole fruits instead of sugar-sweetened fruit smoothies.
- Replace candy with a homemade trail mix of fruit, nuts and a few dark chocolate chips.
- Use olive oil and vinegar in place of sweet salad dressings like honey mustard.
- Choose marinades, nut butters, ketchup and marinara sauce with zero added sugars.
- Look for cereals, granolas and granola bars with under 4 grams of sugar per serving.
- Swap your morning cereal for a bowl of rolled oats topped with nut butter and fresh berries, or an omelet made with fresh greens.
- Instead of jelly, slice fresh bananas onto your peanut butter sandwich.
- Use natural nut butters in place of sweet spreads like Nutella.
- Avoid alcoholic beverages that are sweetened with soda, juice, honey, sugar or agave.
- Shop the perimeter of the grocery store, focusing on fresh, whole ingredients.
In addition, keeping a food diary is an excellent way of becoming more aware of the main sources of sugar in your diet.
The best way to limit your added sugar intake is to prepare your own healthy meals at home and avoid buying foods and drinks that are high in added sugar.
Focusing on preparing healthy meals and limiting your intake of foods that contain added sweeteners can help you cut back on the amount of sugar in your diet.
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