What does sugar do to our bodies and why is it bad?

In recent years we have started to sit up and listen to those who have been telling us sugar is bad for our health but sometimes even though we know it isn’t good for us we still eat it in excess anyway. Hopefully these reasons will change your mind and change your diet forever.

First let me describe the two different types of sugar, the first is Glucose, it is in every living thing and if we don’t get it from our diet, our bodies will produce it. The second is fructose, it is not produced by our bodies in any large amount and psychologically there is no need for it.

Added sugar is high in fructose, which can overload our livers if consumed in excess. Infact excess sugar intake has a similar toxic effect on the the liver as excess alcohol consumption. It is fine if we eat a little bit, for example from fruit, as it will be stored as glycogen and stored in our liver until we need it. If our livers are already full of glycogen (which is quite common), then overloading the liver with fructose will force it to turn the fructose into fat. This in turn can cause non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, which is an increasing problem in people with Western diets with high carb and high sugar intake.

Added sugar can also cause insulin resistance. Insulin is an incredibly important hormone in our bodies, it allows glucose to enter cells from the blood stream and makes the cells burn glucose instead of fat. If you have too much glucose in the blood it can be highly toxic and can cause serious effects for people suffering from diabetes, for example blindness. Interestingly it isn’t fat but sugar that can raise cholesterol and give you heart disease. Sugar can affect the pumping mechanism of the heart and increase the risk of heart failure. Insulin resistance is believed to be a huge factor in lots of diseases like cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes.

Sugar can also be addictive to many people and this is because sugar releases dopamine in the reward area of the brain. Many junk foods and sweet treats can cause a huge dopamine release, much larger than we could ever get from natural food, that some people can find addictive, therefore spurring people to consume more and more sugar which can lead to serious health risks.

Sugar can also affect your risk of cancer and cancer survival. A 2013 study has found that sugar in the intestine triggers the creation of a hormone called GIP (controlled by a protein called β-catenin that is totally dependant on sugar levels) that increases insulin released by the pancreas. β-catenin may affect the cells susceptibility to cancer formation and other studies have found negative associations between high sugar intake and survival rates in both breast and colon cancer patients.

It is tough to cut down or completely cut out added sugar as it is hidden in a lot of food you wouldn’t expect it to be in, for example tomato sauce. Many shop bought savoury foods are high in sugar even though they don’t taste sweet but the best way to cut your sugar intake is to cook