Why Is Sugar So Bad?

Updated on May 5, 2017

What Is Sugar and Why Is it Bad for Us?

Sugar itself is a carbohydrate that’s a natural part of our metabolism. It’s what our bodies use to produce energy. The problem is that what started out as flavor enhancement has now become a leading ingredient in so many foods. Worse yet, Dr. Lustig from UCSF points out how sugar is “as addictive as cocaine.

Sugar: The Bitter Truth - Dr Lustig of UCSF

Did you know that Americans actually consume over 150 pounds of sugar per year?

That’s literally a whole person's weight in sugar we're consuming!

See results

What Is Refined Sugar and Why Is it Bad?

For the most part what we call “sugar” is actually refined sugar, which is the powdered white sugar from the syrup extract of sugarcane or sugar beets. It is also known as sucrose, which is a combination of fructose and glucose.

Refined sugars come in a variety of processed forms such as granulated white sugar, brown sugar, dextrose, high fructose corn syrup and malt syrup. Meanwhile, fructose are the natural sugars found in fruit, and lactose in dairy products like milk and cheese.

Processed foods with these refined sugars lack nutrients but have plenty of what we call “empty calories,” while promoting tooth decay and other problems we’ll discuss in a moment. Fruits and milk products on the other hand have vitamins and nutrients, while making us feel full with fiber, or protein in the case of dairy.

Basics of Metabolism

How Does Sugar Affect Metabolism

Normally, the body burns carbohydrates as a part of the process of producing energy.

With fruits and dairy we have a balance of chemical reactions and hormones within our bodies that supports living and growing healthy tissue. But when we throw in refined sugars this starts getting out of whack. Insulin and blood sugar levels spike signalling our body to store fat, yet we still feel hungry and tend to want to eat more.

The result is that we overwork our liver causing a condition that affects 90 million Americans and leads to pre-diabetes obesity, ultimately resulting in Type 2 diabetes. While the “recommended daily consumption” is 30 g, we actually consume about 95 g per day! Part of the problem is 80% of what we eat (especially processed foods) now have added sugars.

To Add Insult to Injury

Obesity has been linked with certain cancers such as breast, prostate, uterine, colorectal and pancreatic.

And while we believed for years that saturated fats led to heart disease - still the #1 killer - it turns out that high consumption of fructose can raise LDL (also known as the bad cholesterol) and triglycerides.

There is also evidence of the harmful effects of candida, which consuming refined sugar exasperates.

Candida and Sugar Cravings

Over recent years there has been more awareness about the importance of gut health. Within our stomachs there is a constant battle between healthy bacteria and a yeast called candida. When these are out of balance, many problems can result even beyond your digestive and immune systems.

Sugar feeds candida, and candida overgrowth can result in sugar cravings. Without the healthy bacteria keeping this yeast in check, we're more likely to get stomach illnesses. Often these are treated with antibiotics which is more likely to only more the situation worse by killing off more of our healthy bacteria. And thus this creates a dangerous vicious cycle.

Sugar Rush - Jamie Oliver

If Sugar Is Bad, Why Do We Crave It?

The basic problem is that our cravings are a signal of what our bodies want. However, this signal has been short circuited by these toxic mimics of what we really need.

'We are programmed to enjoy eating fatty and sugary substances, and our brains tell us to seek them out,” says psychologist Dr Leigh Gibson, Reader in Biopsychology at Roehampton University.

"First, there is dopamine, a brain chemical that is involved in learning and concentration. When we see or experience something new, dopamine is released in the brain.

"This works in tandem with other brain chemicals called opioids, which give us feelings of enjoyment and pleasure. The combination of these two factors mean that the brain associates certain activities with pleasure, and it teaches us to do them again and again.”

This creates in essence a habit loop - something MIT researchers discovered while experimenting with rats running mazes. They found that the cerebral cortex of the rats' brains were highly active in during initial maze runs but after repeated runs required less and less.

In other words, once we find something pleasurable our brains devote less and less time to thinking about it. We literally go into autopilot with our choices whether it’s junk food or drugs.

The Habit Loop

Example of a habit loop
Example of a habit loop | Source

Natural Sugars from Fruits

Source

So What Can We Do?

Of course, it turns out that it goes back to basic nutrition principles.Eating fruit provides the nutrients our bodies need and antioxidants to fight cancer. Meanwhile, the fiber curbs our appetite and helps to prevent overeating and gaining weight.

Read food labels, and be aware of how much added sugar there is in your foods. In Sugar Rush celebrity chef Jamie Oliver was surprised and couldn’t believe how much sugar was in a bottle of sauce he used for an otherwise healthy meal of stir-fry vegetables. Educating ourselves is critical because the current FDA requirements still do not require any warnings about the dangers of consuming sugar.

Consider some natural sugar substitutes. We'll talk more about which sugar substitutes are healthy and which are not. One alternative you may consider is a plant based natural supplement called stevia. Here's more on stevia vs sugar

Stevia vs Sugar

 
Stevia
Sugar
Fat
0
0
Carbohydrates (g)
0
18
Sugars (grams)
0
18
Calories
0
60

Summary of Why Is Sugar So Bad

  • Refined sugars is found in almost every food item these days
  • These feed into our body's urges and creates cravings
  • Unless we educate ourselves and are aware, this leading cause of obesity only gets worse
  • While it's not too late, this is not easy and requires constant awareness and action
  • Healthier alternatives include fruits and other whole foods, plus some natural sugar substitutes

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • profile image

      JT 

      19 months ago

      I really like this article. It makes a lot of sense why there are so many obeys in our country and the world because they don't know sugar is so harmful to our body and can cause so many different diseases and cancer as well.

      Hay people, it's time to wake up. If you want to be healthy and live painless good and long life, you should stop using sugar immediately and start to use the real healthy sweet replacement such as real good quality pure Stevioside (not fake one). I found one from www.emperorsherbologist.com sometime ago and I experience the health benefits by using the product from this site. You'll appreciate the author of this article to give you such good information.

      Live healthy!

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, caloriebee.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://caloriebee.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)