Many healthful food products, such as dairy products, vegetables, and fruit, naturally contain sugars. The sugar in these foods gives them a sweet taste. It is important for people to include these foods in their diet, as they come with a range of other nutrients that provide valuable health benefits.

However, manufacturers tend to add sugar to foods such as cereals and cake and some drinks. It is these added sugars, or free sugars, that cause health problems. Unlike foods and drinks that naturally contain sugar, those with added sugar provide no nutritional value. They are also a poor energy source, as the body digests added sugar very quickly. Consuming too much may cause health problems over time.

The average American Consumes 19.5 teaspoons of sugar every day. This translates into about 66 pounds of added sugar consumed each year, per person.

6 Reasons Added Sugars are Bad for Your Health

  • Inflammation (body and brain)
    1. Damages gut lining which leads to leaky gut – bacteria, toxins and undigested food particles can move out of the gut and into the bloodstream (80% of the immune system is in the GUT)
    2. Causes serious health problems such as heart disease, diabetes, obesity, fatigue, skin issues, aches and pains, hardening of arteries, depression, allergies, pain, cancer, digestive issues, hormonal imbalances, etc.
  • Interferes with vitamin and mineral absorption
    1. Depletes the body of:
      • Vitamin D
        • A high intake of sugar, particularly fructose, increases the production of a devious enzyme which degrades stores of vitamin D. A shortage of Vitamin D can lead to a suppressed immune system and numerous health problems, including certain cancers.
      • Calcium
        • Everyone knows calcium is vital for strong bones among other health benefits. However, because calcium absorption is tied to vitamin D levels, sugar’s adverse effects on vitamin D will negatively impact calcium’s absorption as well. To make matters worse, excess sugar intake also increases calcium excretion.
      • Magnesium
        • The high blood sugar and elevated insulin levels associated with excess sugar intake decrease magnesium absorption and cause the kidneys to excrete magnesium faster. Since magnesium is key in stabilizing blood sugar, a vicious cycle commences. As blood sugar regulation is impaired even more magnesium is excreted. Cutting the sugar helps ensure that magnesium, critical for many bodily functions, is absorbed and maintained.
      • Chromium
        • Chromium, like magnesium, is involved in blood sugar regulation. Depletion of chromium contributes to decreased glucose tolerance, a precursor to diabetes. As with magnesium and calcium, high sugar consumption promotes chromium excretion, putting you on a fast-track to deficiency. In fact, one study published in the journal Metabolism: Clinical and Experimental data showed that consuming a diet consisting of 35% simple sugars increased natural mineral excretion rates by 300%!
      • Vitamin C
        • Unlike most mammals, humans are unable to synthesize their own vitamin C so we must obtain it from outside sources. High glucose levels inhibit vitamin C from entering our cells, decreasing absorption rates. Further research has shown that individuals who reduce their sugar intake experience significant improvement in vitamin C levels and its benefits.

A large study involving more than 75,000 women found that those who consumed a diet high in refined carbohydrates and sugar had up to a 98% greater risk of heart disease, compared to women with the lowest intake of refined carbs & sugars.

  • Hormonal disruption
    • Insulin resistance: Insulin is highly affected by diet because of the many different signals going on throughout the body as a result of the glucose, and the resulting energy that is produced from carbohydrate intake. Once insulin resistance develops, the muscles, fat, and liver cells don’t respond to it properly, leading to a chain reaction in the body.
      1. Causes PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome) which disrupts reproductive hormones
        1. Acne, weight gain, difficulty losing weight, excess hair on the face and body, irregular periods, fertility problems and depression.
  • Sleep disorders
    • Sugar is linked to trouble falling asleep as well as restless and disrupted sleep.
  • Irritability & mood changes
    • Sudden peaks and drops in blood sugar levels can cause you to experience symptoms like irritability, mood swings, brain fog and fatigue.
    • Sugar-rich and carb-laden foods can also interfere with the neurotransmitters that help keep our moods stable. Consuming sugar stimulates the release of the mood-boosting neurotransmitter serotonin. Constantly over-activating these serotonin pathways can deplete our limited supplies of the neurotransmitter, which can contribute to symptoms of depression.
  • Cognitive decline, memory loss, learning skills & dementia
    • Damages synaptic activity in the brain, meaning communication among brain cells is impaired.
    • Insulin resistance – impairs function of brain cells.

Approximately 80% of packaged foods contain added sweeteners.

How to handle it

  • Recognize it’s an addiction
  • Take it slow
    • Combine craving foods with healthful ones (almonds and dark chocolate chips)
  • Eat regularly
    • Waiting too long between meals might set you up to choose sugary and fatty foods
  • Eat more bitter foods & nutritious foods
    • Choose protein, fat & fiber rich foods – legumes, yogurt, dates, nuts, prunes, eggs, fermented foods, whole grains, sweet potatoes, meat/poultry/fish, butter, avocados, salad with olive oil.
    • Fruits (make a smoothie!)
      • Mangoes, bananas and grapes are HIGHER in sugar
      • Berries are LOW in sugar and HIGH in fiber
    • Incorporate more bitter foods into your diet like arugula, dandelion greens, endive, green tea
  • Skip artificial sweeteners
    • They don’t lessen sugar cravings and they contribute to weight gain
  • Proper supplementation
    • Making sure your body is absorbing the nutrients it needs so you do not crave added sugars
    • Personalized supplementation programs with Nutrition Response Testing
  • Drink enough water (1/2 your weight in ounces per day)
  • Get proper sleep
  • Avoid extra stress and triggers