It’s clear in 2021 that a high-sugar diet is bad for your health. Chronic diseases, weight gain, and tooth decay are all a danger, and too much added sugar is one of the leading predictors of cardiovascular disease.
When it comes to health, sugar has had a mixed reputation. Sugar is found in all carbohydrates-containing foods, such as fruits and vegetables, grains, and dairy. It’s fine to eat complete meals that include natural sugar but people who consume a lot of refined sugar may be putting themselves at risk for chronic inflammation.
Inflammatory markers in the blood are thought to drop when people eat and drink less sugar, according to research. Soft drinks, fruit drinks, flavored yogurts, cereals, cookies, cakes, sweets, and most processed foods are the leading sources in the American diet. However, added sugar can be found in foods you might not expect to be sweetened, such as soups, bread, cured meats, and ketchup.
We consume far too much additional sugar as a result of this. According to the National Cancer Institute, adult men consume an average of 24 teaspoons of added sugar every day. This is the equivalent of 384 calories.
Sugar and Cardiovascular Disease
The impact of too much sugar on obesity and diabetes is well recognized, but many may be surprised to learn that their sweet tooth might have a negative influence on their heart health.
A 2014 study published in JAMA Internal Medicine identified a link between a high-sugar diet and a higher risk of heart disease death. People who consumed 17 percent to 21 percent of their calories from added sugar had a 38 percent higher risk of dying from cardiovascular disease over the course of the 15-year trial than those who consumed only 8% of their calories from added sugar.
Sugar produces inflammation through a variety of mechanisms. The most crucial is that eating simple carbohydrates causes a surge in blood glucose, which is especially dangerous if you are diabetic or pre-diabetic. Your sympathetic nervous system is engaged when this happens, plunging your body into a state of fight or flight.
The more sugar you consume, the more your body’s inflammatory reaction is triggered. When you eat simple sugars, pro-inflammatory cytokines are generated throughout your body, in addition to boosting your blood pressure and heart rate. The body then creates insulin, which is a pro-inflammatory hormone that encourages the synthesis of arachidonic acid, a precursor to pro-inflammatory cytokines.
Sugar promotes the liver’s synthesis of free fatty acids. The liver is overworked when sugar levels are high. Sugar is metabolized by your liver in the same manner as alcohol is, and dietary carbs are converted to fat. This can lead to an increase in fat storage over time, which can lead to fatty liver disease, which is linked to diabetes and increases your risk of heart disease. When these free fatty acids are digested by the body, the resultant chemicals might cause inflammation.
Excessive added sugar consumption can raise blood pressure and chronic inflammation, both of which are pathological routes to heart disease. Several research have associated consuming more dietary sugar — notably from sugary drinks — with chronic inflammation, according to a systematic review published in 2018. People who eat a high-sugar diet have greater levels of inflammatory markers in their blood, such as C-reactive protein.
According to a 2014 study, participants who cut back on sugary drinks had lower levels of inflammation markers in their blood. These results back up the idea that sugar consumption causes inflammation. Excess sugar consumption, particularly in sugary beverages, promotes to weight gain by deceiving your body’s appetite-control mechanism into turning off since liquid calories are not as fulfilling as solid meal calories. This is why sugary beverages make it easier for people to add extra calories to their usual diet.
How Added Sugar Affects Your Body
Sugar has been studied to see how it produces inflammation. Although the exact mechanism through which sugar impacts heart function is unknown, it appears to have multiple indirect links. Excess added sugar and processed carbs trigger various physiological changes in the body, which may explain why a sugar-rich diet can lead to persistent, low-grade inflammation.
Sugar is quickly absorbed into your bloodstream when it is broken down in your small intestine. Insulin is created in the pancreas and is responsible for removing sugar from the bloodstream and storing it in the cells. Sugar is acidic, in contrast to the alkaline nature of many fruits and vegetables.
The more sugar you ingest, the more your pH will deviate from its normal range. When your body is too acidic, it puts a strain on important organs, impairs your immune system, and causes joint inflammation. Soft tissue, facet joints, sacroiliac joints, and vertebrae in your back can become inflamed, resulting in persistent pain.
It’s vital to remember that sugar is unlikely to produce inflammation on its own. Inflammation can also be caused by other factors such as stress, medicine, smoking, and a high fat diet.
What are the effects of chronic inflammation on the body?
According to research, diet has a substantial impact on inflammation in the body, with some foods increasing inflammation and others decreasing it. A high-sugar diet could be a major contributor to chronic inflammation.
Excess sugar consumption can activate the immune system of the body, causing damage to healthy cells. Obesity, smoking, and a sedentary lifestyle can all contribute to inflammation, which can lead to a variety of ailments. Heart disease, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, and Alzheimer’s disease are among them.
Chronic inflammation can cause the following signs and symptoms in people:
- Anxiety, depression, and other mood disorders
- bodily aches, exhaustion, and sleeplessness
- digestive disorders such as constipation, diarrhea, acid reflux, and others
- gaining weight
- becoming sick frequently
- Chronic inflammation in older people has been linked to an increased risk of death.
How to Reduce Chronic Inflammation in the Body
Doctors are attempting to find a way to alleviate chronic inflammation.
Get enough sleep. Improved sleep, a better night’s sleep and stress management may reduce the risk of chronic inflammation.
Quite smoking. Many chronic disorders, including chronic inflammation, are linked to smoking.
Follow an anti-inflammatory diet.
Maintain a healthy weight. Obesity is another condition that contributes to chronic inflammation. Inflammatory variables may be increased by excess fat tissue. Weight loss is the most effective technique for lowering chronic inflammation.
Anti-inflammatory supplements can be helpful.
Sex hormones. The production of inflammatory factors can be slowed by estrogen and testosterone. Testing and treating hormone abnormalities may help some people minimize chronic inflammation.
How to Cut Back Your Sugar Intake
Lowering sugar consumption has been found in studies to reduce inflammation, thus people should try to minimize their sugar intake. A maximum sugar intake of less than 10% of daily energy intake is strongly recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO).
Reducing your intake of sweets can help break the cycle of inflammation. This amount of dedication and willpower is sometimes easier said than done. We’re taste-bud-equipped humans! This is complicated further by the fact that sugar isn’t only contained in sweet foods like desserts, soda, and candy. It’s present in a variety of foods on supermarket shelves. It’s in a lot of sauces, dressings, functional beverages, yogurts, and even ostensibly nutritious snack bars and cereal.
Sugar can be found in almost any processed or packaged food – especially diet foods. In this situation, they remove all of the flavors and must replace them with something else. This is done with sugar. If there is 1/2 g or less sugar per serving, the FDA allows items to be marketed as “sugar free” or “no sugar.”
Read the Food Labels
Learning to read food labels is a simple way to start reducing or eliminating sugar. Reading food labels is one of the most effective ways to keep track of your sugar intake. Knowing the 61 popular names for sugar and where to find them on the label is a good rule of thumb when checking for sugar content on food labels. High fructose corn syrup or various -ose endings are frequently used. Look for sugars, syrups, and nectars as well. Avoid products with one or more of these substances in the first three ingredients.
The total sugar content, which includes added sugar, is frequently expressed in grams. Take note of the overall number of servings as well as the number of grams of sugar per serving.
Also, keep track of how much sugar you put in your food or drinks. Beverages, such as coffee and tea, account for around half of all added sugar. According to a research published in the May 2017 issue of Public Health, two-thirds of coffee drinkers and one-third of tea drinkers use sugar or sweet flavorings in their beverages. The researchers also discovered that added sugar accounted for more than 60% of the calories in their beverages.
How Much Sugar is Acceptable?
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has established a revised Nutrition Facts label that now includes a line item for added sugars. As part of a balanced diet, we should limit our intake of added sugars to less than 10% of our total daily calories, according to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans (2015-2020).
Men should take no more than 150 calories (approximately 9 teaspoons or 36 grams) of added sugar per day, according to the American Heart Association. That’s about the same quantity as a 12-ounce drink can.
According to the WHO, ingesting only 5% of daily calories from sugar may have additional health benefits. Sugar would account for 100 to 200 calories per day for someone eating 2,000 calories per day.
When you have the necessary tools, you can avoid added sugars more easily. Try substituting sugar with a natural sweetener like Swerve or Stevia. This way, if you get a sweet tooth, you’ll have an item on hand that won’t leave your palate feeling deprived.
Limiting your sugar intake can be the healthiest nutritional option you make, given the increased pain caused by excess sugar in the body. It could mean the difference between enjoying a long and healthy life and avoiding expensive and frequent healthcare visits.