Updated: Mar 1
Sugar is that sweet-tooth satisfier found in snacks, fruit, cake, ice cream, bread, soda, dressings, sauces...you get the picture. It’s EVERYWHERE! With so many high-sugar foods, most would agree that at least consuming sugar from "natural" sources (like a fresh apple or dried cherries) would be much better than chugging your favorite soft drink. Regardless, it's still important to be aware of sugar’s impact on the human body, and mindful of the amount of sugar you and your family consume to maintain optimal health.
Why Are We So Drawn to Sugar?
There’s a reason we’re drawn to the deliciousness of sugar - in fact, some scientists say that sugar is addictive. Although the theory has yet to be conclusively proven, there is no doubt that sugar certainly generates a strong reaction in the human body. Sugar surges dopamine receptors in our brain, meaning our bodies have a chemical reaction to this sweet substance. Once your taste receptors get that hit of sugar, it immediately sends a reaction up to your cerebral cortex that processes the sweet taste. It then activates the brain’s rewards system, which prompts you to want, you guessed it, more sugar. Over-activating this rewards system can lead to loss of control, over-eating, and increased tolerance of sugar, and that is where the vicious cycle begins.
When you rarely eat sugar or eat a minimal amount at a time, it doesn’t trigger the dopamine receptors as rapidly. The saying “moderation is key,” can come into play in many facets of life, and sugar is no exception.
Cheers To A Healthy Heart
Your brain is not the only body part negatively affected by sugar. A 2014 JAMA INTERNAL MEDICINE study showed that people with a high sugar diet had a greater risk of dying from heart disease. The 15-year study determined that those who got 17-21% of their calories from added sugar had a 38% higher risk of dying from cardiovascular disease, compared to people who consumed 8% of their calories as added sugar. Too much sugar can increase blood pressure and chronic inflammation, which is directly connected to heart disease. In addition, excess sugar can lead to weight gain which can ultimately cause diabetes and other chronic illnesses. No thanks.