Sweet Poison: The negative effects of sugar on our health

There is no way around it, food plays one of the biggest roles in our daily lives. In most cases, the food we consume as well as the amount can have a major effect on our minds and bodies. There is always an ongoing debate around the topic of food. Is natural fat bad for you? Is a glass of red wine in the evening good for you? Is veganism a healthy option? What are the effects of too much red meat? The list goes on and on…

Guest Post by Claudio Caldeira


All we know for sure is this. When it comes to sugar I think all of us can agree like with all other things in life – too much of a good thing is a bad thing. And unfortunately, in this case, can be a fatal thing. 


Although sugar is one of life’s greatest pleasures, it comes with some negative consequences. Let’s take a look at some of them. 


Sugar causes weight gain

The most obvious one of all. In most cases, sugary foods and drinks are extremely high in calories. Consuming too many calories leads to weight gain, even with regular exercise. Our bodies digest sugary foods a lot quicker, and as a result, they do not offset hunger for very long. Oftentimes this leads to eating more frequently throughout the day and a higher calorie intake overall. 


Sugar increases the risk of obesity, heart disease and diabetes

Although we all love to enjoy a little bit of sugar once a while, sugary food affects our blood sugar quickly. This contributes to greater possibility in the three above-mentioned health risks. Added sugar is known as “empty calories”.Although glucose is an important fuel for the body, there is no physiological need for added sugars.


Sugar accelerates ageing 

After we turn 25, our bodies lose more collagen than we produce. A lack of collagen in our skin causes us to age rapidly. We hate to be the bearer of bad news but according to the ultimate guide to collagen, sugar breaks down collagen. So if it weren’t enough that our bodies produce less collagen as the time goes by, we need to cut back on sugar at the same rate to stay youthful.


Sugar increases stress

Yep, contrary to popular belief, sugar can actually make you stress even more. When we stress, our bodies immediately react in either fight or flight mode, releasing large amounts of hormones. Our bodies have the same chemical response when blood sugar is low. Right after you eat sugar or sugary foods and drinks that contain sugar, stress hormones begin to compensate for the crash by raising your blood sugar. And the result of this? Unexplained anxiousness, irritability, stress and even shakiness. So next time you are a bit stressed, don’t grab the first cupcake you see. Sugar triggers endorphins, however, they are very short-lived. 


Sugar has a negative effect on the brain

Sugar can have a negative effect on focus according to a recent UCLA study. They have found that sugar forms free radicals in the brain’s membrane, compromising our nerve cells’ ability to communicate. As a result, we tend to feel “foggy” or “out of it”. The study drew strong connections between sugar intake and a diminishment in how well we remember instructions and process ideas. Sugar also affects our moods. Studies have shown that sugar causes the vicious cycles of binge-eating, dopamine spikes, a physical and emotional crash and then more craving and withdrawal. As a result, we have shorter tempers, lower patience and even depressed feelings.


These are the top 5 negative effects that sugar can have on our health. The debate around sugar is neverending. There are lots of sugar myths out there and we want to bust them all so you don’t have to go your whole life believing chocolate causes acne (which it doesn’t). So here are some common myths – busted.


Myth #1 – Natural sweeteners are a lot healthier than plain sugar.

Eert! Wrong! According to Nestle, all sugars – even agave, honey, and maple syrup have the same effect on our bodies as white sugar or high-fructose corn syrup. Recent research has linked fructose (the sugar found in fruit), in particular, to hormonal changes that lead you to overeat, thus setting you up for weight gain and related health issues. Artificial sweeteners have been intensely scrutinized for many many years. Critics believe that Artificial sweeteners cause a variety of health problems such as cancer.  This conclusion is based on studies that linked the artificial sweetener saccharin to bladder cancer in laboratory rats.


Myth #2 – Fruit juice is better than other sugary drinks

Fruit juice is widely perceived as being a healthy drink since the word fruit is in it. The truth, unfortunately, is that fruit-juice is loaded with sugar. According to Nestle “Sugars are sugars and glucose and fructose are processed by the same metabolic pathways no matter where they come from. Fruit juices have lots of sugars, which is why they should be consumed in small amounts — even though the sugars are accompanied by vitamins, minerals, and some fibre.” So when you drink fruit juice, remember that even though it has more nutritional properties than other soft drinks, it is still extremely high in sugar. Take a look at the comparison below between a 350ml can of coke and 350ml Apple juice: 

  • Coca Cola: 586kj and 40 grams of sugar (10 teaspoons)
  • Apple juice: 691kj and 39 grams of sugar (9.8 teaspoons)


Myth #3 – If it doesn’t taste sweet, it must not have a lot of sugar

You should be a lot less concerned about the added sugar you know you’re eating, like sweets, versus the sugar that’s sneaking into your diet in other forms like beverages, cereal, pasta sauce, and salad dressings (just to name a few). That’s why it’s so important to check food labels and to make sure you read the ingredients carefully. Common savoury culprits, like sauces and dips, are just as susceptible to food processing, so check labels before purchasing.


Myth #4 – If the label doesn’t say “sugar” it must not have too much of it. 

Whoops, we’re about to drop a truth bomb on you! You need to be aware of the hidden sugar-filled ingredients. When reading the back label lookout for anything that ends with the words sugar (like coconut sugar), sweetener, or syrup, as well as words ending in “-ose” (like dextrose), agave, honey, malt, molasses, evaporated cane juice, and fruit juice concentrate. These are all hidden sugar bombs. 


So there you have it, folks. All the negative effects and the common myths busted. We’re not saying cut out sugar from your diet completely, but maybe try to be a lot more mindful of what you put in your body.

Mark Munroe is the Creator and EIC of ADDICTED. He's ADDICTED to great travel, amazing food, better grooming & probably a whole lot more!