World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends that only 10% of a day’s calories must be from sugar.
This would translate to about six teaspoons of sugar per day. Let’s take a look at what sugar does to the body:
#1 Extra weight
Indulging in extra sweets tend to contribute to fat storage and sending mixed signals to hormones like leptin that tells the brain – it still needs more food! Research has proven that though sweets and other foods rich in sugar are laden with calories, they do not do much in getting rid of hunger. The body will still want more food, as the sugar only dulls the brain by reducing the activity in anorexigenic oxytocin system.
#2 Insulin resistance and diabetes
Sweets increase the body’s requirement of insulin – which converts sugar into energy. When sugar levels are high for long periods of duration, the body loses its sensitivity to the hormone, allowing glucose to build up in the blood. This is known as insulin resistance. Symptoms of insulin resistance include tiredness, hunger and high blood pressure. Over time, it reduces the amount of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), a chemical that is often low in pre-diabetics and diabetics.
Sugar is an enemy to teeth. Studies suggest the correlation between high-sugar diet and tooth decay. Bacteria in the teeth lining attack sugar, creating acids that destroy the enamel.
#4 High blood pressure and heart disease
Like with salt, high amount of sugar in the body can cause hypertension. Sugar-dense foods spike sugar blood pressure in a matter of hours. They also increase the risk of developing heart disease.
#5 Sugar addiction
Sugar dependency is a reality and there are studies that prove the same. Sugar has shown to mimic the effects of opiate in the brain, causing binge-ing, longing and withdrawal when levels begin to fall.
#6 Toxic effect on liver
In 2012, a study published in Nature concluded that excess sugar in the body can create toxic effects on the liver, just like alcohol. It further went on to state that high amounts of sugar could increase the risk of certain chronic conditions that are common consequences of alcohol addiction.
Image: By San Sharma from London, United Kingdom (Chum Chums Uploaded by Diádoco) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
“Sugar is as dangerous as alcohol and tobacco, warn health experts,” The Telegraph, Sarah Knapton, January 9, 2014, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/healthnews/10559671/Sugar-is-as-dangerous-as-alcohol-and-tobacco-warn-health-experts.html
“Sweet poison: why sugar is ruining our health,” The Telegraph, Victoria Lambert, January 9, 2014, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/foodanddrink/healthyeating/9987825/Sweet-poison-why-sugar-is-ruining-our-health.html
“What Eating Too Much Sugar Does to Your Brain,” Forbes.com, David Disalvo, April 1, 2012, https://www.forbes.com/sites/daviddisalvo/2012/04/01/what-eating-too-much-sugar-does-to-your-brain/
“10 Things You Don’t Know About Sugar (And What You Don’t Know Could Hurt You)” HuffingtonPost.com, Kristin Kirkpatrick, July 30, 2013, https://www.huffingtonpost.com/kristin-kirkpatrick-ms-rd-ld/dangers-of-sugar_b_3658061.html