Is sugar the source of all evil?
Most of us know that sugar plays a significant role in maintaining a healthy diet and lifestyle. Many people still underestimate the devastating effects of sugar despite countless warnings. Moreover, even those who have already developed certain health issues due to excessive sugar tend to continue and consume too much of it.
So how can we tell when we consume too much sugar? As a general rule, the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that we consume no more than 10% of our daily caloric intake from sugar. As part of a 2015 update to its guidelines, they lowered the recommendation to 5%, which is equivalent to about 25 grams of sugar a day (about 6 teaspoons)!
You probably think that there's nothing to be worried about since you definitely don't consume 6 teaspoons of sugar a day right? - unfortunately, you are wrong. We can exceed the recommended amount even by eating a couple of fruits, a banana for instance contains about 12g of sugar and an apple about 10g. This is of course without considering all the industrial food and drinks that we buy at the supermarket. So by default, most of us consume double and triple the amount of sugar recommended by the WHO- meaning that most of us take the risk of getting serious diseases that can be caused by excessive sugar consumption, and no diabetes is not among the most terrifying ones!
Over the past decade, several groundbreaking studies have revealed a link between sugar and cancer, and the scientific community now has plenty of evidence to back up these claims. According to a study published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation, sugar is not only a fuel source for existing cancers, but also a primary factor that initiates cancerous characteristics in healthy cells.
The study shows that the activation of sugar-based metabolism (the process by which your body converts what you eat and drink into energy) in a cell driven by high sugar quantities on the cell membrane (separates the interior of the cell from the outside environment ) causes cancer to form. In another study, the National Center for Biotechnology Information found that eating a diet high in sugar consumption - glycemic load (GL) - increased the risk of prostate cancer by 30%, rectal cancer by 44%, and pancreatic Cancer by 41%.
Heart disease is a leading cause of death worldwide, and once again our excessive sugar consumption is the biggest contributor to increases in rates of these diseases.
When we eat high amounts of sugar, our bodies release insulin to get glucose out of the bloodstream and into our cells. The higher the level of glucose in our blood, the higher the amount of insulin released. While this is a perfectly natural response to sugar in our bloodstream, when insulin is chronically high (which it is for most people on our Western society, due to diet high in sugars and processed foods) it causes inflammation and damages the lining of our blood vessels leading to Cardiovascular Diseases such as: Heart Attack, Stroke, Heart failure and Arrhythmia.
Perhaps the least common health issue on our list is fatty liver disease. This particular disease is caused by our body's least favorite sugar – fructose. Liver cells are the only ones that can break down fructose, they turn sugar into fat in a process called lipogenesis. Over time, if we consume too much fructose, fat droplets start to accumulate in the liver cells, which ultimately results in non-alcoholic liver disease - so called because the effect is similar to the one that alcohol has on the liver. As with alcohol damage, if left untreated the liver becomes scarred, leading to irreversible cirrhosis and irreparable damage.
Overweight and obesity
Obesity is a complex problem with multiple causes. But among the likely suspects, sugar is high on the list. As sugar consumption has increased, so too has our waistline. Overweight and obesity are defined as abnormal or excessive fat accumulation that presents a risk to health. A body mass index (BMI) over 25 is considered overweight, and over 30 is obese.
The issue has grown to epidemic proportions, with over 4 million people dying each year as a result of being overweight or obese in 2017 according to the global burden of disease. Once considered a problem only in high-income countries, overweight and obesity are now dramatically on the rise in low- and middle-income countries, particularly in urban settings. The vast majority of overweight or obese children live in developing countries, where the rate of increase has been more than 30% higher than that of developed countries. Besides the fact that obesity makes daily activities such as walking, sitting down, dressing and taking a shower much more difficult, it has direct consequences such as chronic pain (neck, back, leg and knee), difficulty in breathing, heart as well as other diseases.
If you think that the only damage that sugar can do to your mouth is caris, unfortunately you are wrong, high sugar intake can lead to gum disease in the mouth. Once gum disease starts, it may advance if untreated. Gum disease can advance to periodontitis - severe gum infection that can lead to tooth loss and other serious health complications. The bacteria associated with periodontitis can travel throughout the body, invading joints, connective tissue, and organs such as the kidneys, liver, and lungs. Gum disease can lead to coronary artery disease and Bacteria that accumulates from periodontitis can cause blood clots that clog arteries.
Probably the most anticipated on the list, but still although the vast majority of us know about this risk, we still choose to ignore it and continue to consume much more sugar than we should. Over 33 million people in the EU suffer from diabetes and the average age is decreasing from year to year. Type 2 diabetes is an impairment in the way the body regulates and uses sugar (glucose) as a fuel. This long-term (chronic) condition results in too much sugar circulating in the bloodstream. Eventually, high blood sugar levels can lead to disorders of the circulatory, nervous and immune systems including foot or leg amputation.
In type 2 diabetes, there are primarily two interrelated problems at work. Your pancreas does not produce enough insulin - a hormone that regulates the movement of sugar into your cells - and cells respond poorly to insulin and take in less sugar.
Type 2 diabetes used to be known as adult-onset diabetes, but both type 1 and type 2 diabetes can begin during childhood and adulthood. Type 2 is more common in older adults, but the increase in the number of children with obesity has led to more cases of type 2 diabetes in younger people.
There's no cure for type 2 diabetes, but consuming less sugar, losing weight, eating well and exercising can help you manage the disease. If diet and exercise aren't enough to manage your blood sugar, you may also need diabetes medications or insulin therapy.
you do not have to give away sugar completely, the body uses sugars and starches from carbohydrates to supply glucose to the brain and provide energy to cells around the body, but the main issue is that nowadays food and drink products contain more that enough sugar by Default: from milk to yoghourt, pasta and many others. A good solution would be to consume sugar-free products whenever possible, the difference in taste is not noticeable and it is much better for your health system!